Paarl actress shines at theatre awards

NORMAN MCFARLANE

The who’s who of Western Cape theatre gathered at the Baxter Theatre on Sunday evening, March 20, for the 51st Fleur du Cap Annual Theatre Awards, and Paarl resident Lynelle Kenned – who hosted the event with radio personality Africa Melane – scooped the prize for Best Actress in a Musical, for her portrayal of Maria, in The Fugard Theatre’s production of West Side Story.

In her thank you speech, Lynelle dedicated the award to her late mother, Christine, who passed away in May last year after a long battle with cancer.

Fighting back tears, she held the award aloft and said: “This is for you, Mom.”

Turning to the significance of the award for her, she said: “Winning the Fleur du Cap is about more than recognition for hard work and excellence.

“To me, it is foremost a testimony of my parents’ sacrifice and love and support. Then, it is a culmination of every teacher and coach and lecturer that pushed me beyond what I thought I was capable of, every director that trusted me with the work.

“Every friend and family member that encouraged me to do what makes me happy. If it takes a village to raise a child, then it certainly takes a community to raise an artist. I am humbled and honoured to be celebrating that.

“Winning the award means there is now a certain expectation to always deliver quality work, which is a nice responsibility. And hopefully, more opportunities to create, collaborate and perform. The hard work starts now, and I’ve never been more excited for what’s to come.”

Lynelle has a diversity of roles under her belt including the role of Mattie Allen in David Kramer’s Orpheus in Africa, and the role of Cherubino in Cape Town Opera’s sumptuous production of the Marriage of Figaro at the Artscape Opera House last year.

Awards were conferred in a total of 18 categories, and Dr John Kani received a Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to theatre, in a career spanning decades.

A total of 86 productions were eligible for awards in 2015, and 66 student performances were also adjudicated, in search of nominees for the Most Promising Student Award.

Category award winners received a cash prize of R15 000 and a newly designed silver medallion.

Guests attending the “Oscars of Cape Town theatre” were sumptuously entertained during the event by wide array of performers, and after the event, an array of eats, each paired with a Fleur du Cap wine, were on offer.

The judges for the 2015 productions were Africa Melane, Dr Beverley Brommert, Christine Moritz, Eugene Yiga, Gillian Mitchell, Herman van der Westhuizen, Johan van Lill, Marina Griebenow, Peter Tromp, Steyn du Toit and Tracey Saunders.

The panel, made up largely of local critics, journalists, writers and drama educators, was chaired by non-voting Melanie Burke.

Voting is by secret ballot and all processes are strictly overseen and audited by the legal firm Cluver Markotter Inc.