CATS Interrupted! Recognition of Excellence 2020-2021

After two successive years of disruption because of Covid where some shows managed to get on stage but most were cancelled, rescheduled or curtailed, the CAT Awards decided to mark this remarkable period in a unique way: called “CATS Interrupted!” Underlying this decision was the spirit of fairness to all. Since the beginning of 2020 our judging panel has attended fewer than fifty shows and its travel outside the Canberra region has been severely curtailed. It would be remiss of us not to acknowledge theatrical achievement, but it would be unfair for us to pretend that it’s “business as usual”. Therefore, the regular categories, along with nominations and winners, have been put to one side temporarily. Instead, the judging panel has recognised excellence on and off stage during a period of extreme and extended challenge.

Read the full list of commendations.

Reflections on 25 years of the CAT Awards

From Coralie Wood OAM

Twenty-five years ago, Kate Peters and I had a dream, that dream being that all amateur theatre actors, directors, orchestras, dancers, back stage personnel, and every theatre lover would gain recognition through the Canberra Area Theatre Awards (now officially just CAT Awards Ltd).

Everyone said “It won’t last.” but they were wrong!

From the early beginnings of six local companies to now more than 50 schools and companies from Wollongong to Orange and the Blue Mountains,  to Bega to Batemans Bay, and many in between in smaller towns like Molong, Yass, and Cooma, and of course Canberra, our dedicated judges travel many kilometres and love the fulfilment of seeing so many shows.

Looking back over the years, we have seen so many different casts in Oklahoma, Kinky Boots, Cats, Mamma Mia, Sound of Music, Hair, Jesus Christ Super Star and many more old and new musicals, whilst making many friends along the way. Dramas and comedy have played a big part in the life of the Cat Awards – from The Diary of Anne Frank, to Art, to The Woman in the Window and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and we have enjoyed every production. Large and small companies, schools and junior theatre companies have all been involved.

And so many of the actors and crew have now gone onto a career in professional theatre. When we saw a young and very shy Lorina Gore in a musical at Daramalan College we knew she would become a star, and she certainly has. We are so proud of her rise in the Australian Opera.

Damien Bermingham was also shy and being the youngest of a large musical family, we knew he had a wonderful presence and voice. He moved to Sydney and became a star in musical comedy theatre whilst his sister Lucy Bermingham found her niche as a musical director and lead pianist in professional theatre orchestras.

Billy Bourchier, at 11 years old, was noticed by the CATs team and after graduating from the Queensland Conservatorium’s Musical Theatre Bachelor program he was cast as Frederic in Harvest Rain’s Pirates of Penzance under the direction of Simon Gallaher. He has never looked back and has been touring constantly with Pirates of Penzance, then Les Miserables and until recently The Book of Mormon

These are only three of many who have made it into producing, directing, ballet, and backstage. We are so proud of our judges’ intuition and recognising these young people who have gone on to become stars. And it makes us proud to think that by recognising and acknowleding their acheivements we may have contributed in some small way to their success.


The dreaded COVID-19 has caused much angst and we are so sad it has changed our plans for the 25th gala celebrations. Our companies, our behind the scenes personnel, judges, office workers, audience members, our very special sponsors,  and all people connected with the CAT Awards are very conscious that the show must go on, so we have moved to an online “gala” awards announcement!

What happens in the rest of 2020 is still a bit uncertain and we will just have to wait and see. We hope we will be able to eventually continue seeing shows, and have a belated 25th gala next year…

Meanwhile I hope you enjoy watching the announcement of the 25th CAT Awards winners. Thanks to all judges and the Board who have shown such commitment in getting this together. Without you, and the companies there would be no CAT Awards.  See you next year!

Coralie Wood
18 April 2019


You may be aware Australia’s Chief Medical Officer advised that gatherings of 500 and more should be cancelled due to concerns about the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).  Consequently, all bookings at Llewellyn Hall have been cancelled by the ANU. The CATs Board and Judging Panel made the inevitable decision to cancel this gala.  We are disappointed to have to cancel what was to have been a very special evening to mark this milestone, but the health and safety of our performers, companies, audiences, and all those involved is paramount.

The Awards will be announced, as planned,  at 6.00pm on Saturday 18 April, but will be posted to the CAT Awards website,

Award certificates will be posted to all winners, and engraved trophies will be available for collection.

For those who have purchased tickets directly from me, a refund will be available. You also have the option to convert your ticket payments to a donation.  Please advise your preference. Note that it will take some time for Ticketek to return the money to me, so please be patient.

For those who purchased tickets via Ticketek, you will need to contact them directly on 13 28 49.

Chances are that shows will be cancelled across the board, and there might not be shows to be judged which could impact on this year’s judging.  Can you please let me know details of any shows you are cancelling.

On behalf of the CAT Awards Board and Judging Panel, I thank you for your continued support during what is an incredibly challenging time for the arts in Canberra and  south-east New South Wales.

Kind regards,


17 March 2020

2018 Nominations announcement

Come along to Theatre 3 to help us celebrate the nominations for the 2018 CAT Awards. We will be having a few drinks and nibbles, followed by a presentation and some entertainment in the theatre.
Drinks are available for purchase from the bar.
Free entry. But just for catering purposes, please RSVP to Coralie Wood: email or phone 0418 249 658

Welcome Blumers Lawyers as principal sponsor

We are absolutely delighted and very grateful to welcome Blumers Lawyers as our new principal sponsor. You never know when you’ll need a lawyer in amateur theatre so call Blumers!

Coralie Wood OAM inducted into Association of Community Theatre Hall of Fame

The CAT Awards is thrilled to announce that our very own Coralie Wood OAM, has been inducted into the Association of Community Theatre’s Hall of Fame by their Patron Nancye Hayes AM, for her outstanding service to the sector. This accolade is well deserved and it’s absolutely fabulous to see Coralie receive such recognition. On behalf of us all in the CAT ‘clowder’ we warmly salute and congratulate you Coralie!

Coralie said, modestly: “If it wasn’t for the Board and the judges and especially the companies involved, this could not have happened. Thank you to all concerned especially Bernie Ryan who made it all possible and Peter Gordon who drove me to Sydney and managed not to tell me what was going to happen”.

The Hall of Fame is awarded by the Association of Community Theatre for exceptional service to community theatre. To enter the Hall of Fame awardees need to be nominated by an ACT member and have completed at least 20 years of service. The Association is especially keen to honour those who toil behind the scenes.

The award was announced at the eleventh Conference of Community Theatre held in Sydney on the 22nd and 23rd of September 2018.

25 September 2018

2018 Mary Porter Professional Development Scholarship

Applications for the 2018 Mary Porter Professional Development Scholarship are open. Application form:
Word version
PDF version
Applications close 31 January 2018.

Congratulations to Kaitlin Nihill

Winner of the 2017 Mary Porter Professional Development Scholarship.

New patrons announced

The CAT Awards is proud to announce two new patrons: Michael Edgley and Simon Gallaher. Read more>>

Vale Jon English

The CAT family was shocked to hear the news of the passing of Jon English on 6 March. Words cannot describe how much we loved and appreciated everything he did for the CAT Awards, as well as his friendship and loyalty to everyone he touched in both his theatrical career and personally. Thank you Jon for all the support you have given everyone, we all love you dearly. See our tribute to Jon.

Welcome Jon English, NSW regional patron

Jon English

We are thrilled to announce that Jon English has agreed to be our NSW Regional Patron.

We now have 4 Patrons:

  • Mary Porter MLA
  • Toni Lamond
  • John Wood
  • Jon English

Here’s what Jon wrote on his Facebook page:

Over the past 6 years I’ve been involved in presenting at the CAT (Canberra Amateur Theatre) Awards. Last week a media release announced that the NSW Gov is going to be involved in sponsoring the awards, and this week I’m proud to say that I have been asked to be the NSW regional patron. I’m a big supporter of what the CAT Awards do in helping to foster up and coming theatre talent in the ACT and in surrounding regional NSW, and would love to see something of the same calibre grow and expand into other states. Thanks to the ever fabulous Coralie Wood who has worked tirelessly to organise these awards for 20 years!> Looking forward to attending the awards in my new role next Feb.

CAT Awards to roar again following NSW Government grant

Johm Barilaro, Coralie Wood and Troy Grant at the announcement of the grant from the NSW government

An awards scheme recognising the contribution of amateur theatre groups in Canberra and throughout regional NSW for the past two decades, will receive much needed financial assistance from the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government.

Member for Monaro John Barilaro was joined by Deputy Premier and Minister for the Arts Troy Grant to announce a $20,000 grant to help fund the Canberra Area Theatre (CAT) Awards.

Following the ACT Government’s decision to withdraw funding support for the CAT Awards, Mr Barilaro said the NSW Government was keen to ensure financial viability of the awards.

Mr Barilaro said the NSW Government is committed to supporting and developing theatre.
“Amateur theatre might not be ‘avant-garde’ enough for the ACT Government to have any interest, however it is popular for regional communities and brings people together,” Mr Barilaro said.
“This region in particular has cemented a growing reputation as a centre of cultural and artistic excellence and recognising the need to nurture artistic talent is just as important as celebrating and appreciating the work of established artists.”

Deputy Premier and Minister for the Arts Troy Grant said since the awards were founded in 1995, they have grown to become a major event in the theatrical calendar in the ACT and throughout NSW.
“The event held in Canberra showcases a variety of theatrical productions and raises the profile of home grown talent,” Mr Grant said.

“Last year 21 of the 44 CAT Award winners were from theatre companies across regional NSW demonstrating the depth of creative talent existing in regional communities.
“Many companies, performers and production personnel in the region have found the CAT Awards bring the satisfaction and enjoyment of having their talent recognised and build a higher profile for their theatre company locally.

“The NSW Liberals and Nationals Government is committed to fostering a vibrant creative arts presence in regional communities,” Mr Grant said.

Special 20th Anniversary Nominations Dinner 15 December

The 2014 nominations will be announced at a special 20th Anniversary Nominations Dinner at the Q Theatre, 253 Crawford Street Queanbeyan, on Monday evening 15 December starting at 6.30 pm.

The evening will be hosted by John Barilaro MP with special guests John Wood and Allyn Smith and some special entertainment.

Tickets $40.00 per person, which includes a two course dinner, complimentary wine on tables and then bar service, entertainment, and announcement of nominations.

BOOK NOW. Booking are essential! Numbers are limited so we suggest you book ASAP.

Mary Porter Professional Development Scholarship

Applications will open soon for the 2015 Mary Porter Professional Development Scholarship. Watch this space for details of how to apply.

Recognition for CAT judges

Our team of CAT judges is proud to have been nominated in the Teams category of the ACT Volunteer of the Year Awards for 2014. This demonstrates the contribution the judges make to recognising and encouraging community theatre in the ACT and south-eastern NSW.

Read more about the ACT Volunteer of the Year Awards>>

Welcome to new judges

A big welcome to the latest additions to our judging panel: Sophie Benassi, Andrew Snell, Peter Dark, Jordan Kelly, Paul Dion (Merimbula), Bill Jayet (Parkes), Peter Cox (Wagga Wagga) and Peter Young (Orange).

For the first time, we have expanded our panel beyond the ACT. This will give greater representation to our regional community theatre companies, and will reduce the travel load of our Canberra judges.

Read more about our panel of judges>>

2014 20th Anniversary Gala Awards Night

The 2014 Gala Awards Night will be held on Saturday 21 February 2014 at The Llewellyn Hall, ANU. Ticket prices and booking details will be available soon.

Celebrating 20 years of the CAT Awards.

CAT Awards go mobile!

If you see our CAT buzzing around town or along the highway, don’t think you’re hallucinating. It’s just our CEO Coralie Wood in her new car proudly painted with our logo, thanks to our generous sponsors at National Capital Motors.

Make sure you wave next time you see the mobile CAT out and about.

The Mobile CAT

ActewAGL new major sponsor for Canberra Area Theatre Awards

Amateur Theatre's Big night Out

From the Porter Report March 2008

Almost 900 people, many of the them from as far away as Parkes, Orange, Wagga and Merimbula, packed the Canberra Theatre for the 2007 Telstra Country Wide Canberra and Area Theatre Awards.

It was the 13th annual occasion that the awards have been presented and patron Mary Porter again thanked Telstra General Manager for Capital South East, Ian Peters, for Telstra’s ongoing support.

Three years ago it looked as if the awards would fold because their founder and driving force, Coralie Wood, could no longer afford to continue to fund the award’s presentation night and the accommodation costs of the volunteer judges who travel to regional areas to adjudicate on the shows presented by member companies.

As the area serviced by Ian Peters was similar to that of the CATs, Mary approached the Telstra GM with a proposition that his organisation become the naming rights sponsor.

Having a personal interest in amateur theatre and believing that Telstra had a role to play as a good corporate citizen, as well as looking at the commercial benefits of reaching such a large audience, Mr Peters agreed to come on board and the rest, as they say, is history.

Among the winners on the night were the Parkes Musical and Drama Society with their production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.

In his acceptance speech, Neil Westcott a farmer and the production’s Musical Director told the audience that in the dire months of one of the worst droughts the area had experienced the show kept the town’s spirits up and gave people hope that together they would get through it.

“This is the sort of community spirit that amateur theatre produces” said Mary Porter. “Of course we all love to see great shows but the really important benefit is the value of people working together and producing something worthwhile.”

Belinda Green, Ian Peters & Mary Porter MLA at the CAT Awards in 2007
Belinda Green, Ian Peters & Mary Porter MLA
at the CAT Awards in 2007

CAT Awards now a registered company

As a further step in improving its administration and ensuring its future, the CAT Awards announces that it has become a registered company under the Corporations Act 2001.
The company is limited by guarantee.
The company is a public company.
The day of commencement of registration is 8 October 2007.

Don and David Whitbread, Cathy and Joe McGrail-Bateup in Green Room CAT Awards 2007
Don and David Whitbread, Cathy and Joe McGrail-Bateup
in Green Room CAT Awards 2007