These guidelines are used in assessing the strengths of elements of productions. They are not used as a definitive checklist – depending on the requirements of individual productions, some criteria will be more important than others, some may not be relevant, and other aspects not listed here may be taken into account.

Best Set Designer

  • Aesthetic appeal
  • Supports the director’s vision for the production
  • Complements other elements of the production such as lights, costumes, props, choreography
  • Suggests the style and tone of the production and creates mood and atmosphere appropriate to the production
  • Suggests the period and location of the play or musical
  • Offers creative opportunities for movement and grouping of the actors
  • Internal balance within the components of the set (for example doors, windows, furniture etc. are in appropriate proportion with each other)
  • Appropriate for other aspects of production for example  size of cast, size of stage, size of venue
  • Authentic to a particular period or location, where appropriate
  • Overcomes any problems of the venue (small stage, lack of wing space, low ceiling, problems with sight lines etc)
  • Overcomes any special challenges of the production (for example lots of scene changes, large cast, technical challenges, orchestra on stage, etc)
  • Well constructed, with good quality painting and decoration, and attention to detail

Best Costume designer

  • Aesthetic appeal
  • Supports the director’s vision for the production
  • Complements other elements of the production such as set dsign, lights, choreography
  • Reinforces the style and tone of the production and helps create the mood and atmosphere appropriate to the production
  • Suggests the period and location of the play or musical
  • Supports performers’ characterisations
  • Distinguishes between major and minor characters
  • Suggests relationships between characters and groups of characters
  • Suggests changes in character development and age
  • Authentic to the period and location of the play or musical, where appropriate
  • Good use of colour with appropriate balance between colours and use of contrasting colours for effect
  • Effective use of textures
  • Appropriate for different body sizes
  • Overcomes any special challenges of the production (for example lots of costume changes, large cast, lots of movement)
  • Allows free movement, especially for dancers
  • Good sewing techniques with good quality materials and attention to detail.

Best Lighting Designer

  • Visual impact
  • Supports the director’s vision for the production
  • Complements other elements of the production such as set, costumes, technical effects, sound
  • Reinforces the style and tone of the production and helps create the mood and atmosphere appropriate to the production
  • Indicates time of day and location
  • Defines acting areas and provides focus to the action
  • Colour balance, appropriate to desired effect
  • Even stage coverage with no inappropriate dark patches or over-lit areas
  • Realistinc represention of on-stage light sources such as on-stage lamps, fireplaces, windows etc
  • Realistic special lighting effects such as flickering of fireplaces, daybreak, sunset, lightning
  • Smooth and well-rehearsed operation

Technical Achievement

This can refer to multimedia, sound design, special make-up effects, prosthetics, pyrotechnics, special effects (for example pools of blood appearing on the floor), scenic painting, props, musical arrangements.

  • Supports the director’s vision for the production
  • Innovative
  • Audience impact
  • Complements other elements of the production such as set and lights
  • Reinforces the style and tone of the production and helps create the mood and atmosphere appropriate to the production
  • Technically challenging
  • Well-rehearsed

Magic Moment of Theatre

Very difficult to define. Think of it as a ‘gasp’ moment of a show. It is usually business or an effect that is not scripted, though not exclusively. It may be a scripted moment that is particularly effective in its realisation. Note that it is a moment, not an entire song or scene.

Best Original Work

Can be

  • words and/or music
  • complete work
  • lyrics only
  • complete musical score or incidental music
  • a new adaptation or translation of an existing work
  • a segment of a variety show or even the linking dialogue in a revue.

Judges look for the extent to which the authors have created sophisticated, innovative, interesting and challenging material, with strong stylistic, structural and thematic elements that effectively engage the target audience.

They also look for how complete the work is (that is, whether it appears to be still under development needing a lot more work, or whether it appears to have undergone a period of workshopping and editing).

Best Ensemble (in a Play or Musical)

An ensemble means a group of performers working together closely as a group, where it is the group itself that is important, rather than the individual members of the group. The size of the group doesn’t matter – it can range from a group of two up to the entire cast. A nomination in an Ensemble category will usually preclude the individuals involved from being nominated in individual categories for roles within the ensemble.

In both plays and musicals there needs to be a real sense of togetherness, trust and mutual respect evident among the performers.

Patricia Kelson Encouragement

Can be actors or actresses, musicians, technicians or production crew of any age who are new to the stage or in their first major on stage or off-stage role, and who show promise and skill. It is intended to encourage them to do more in the theatre, recognising their outstanding potential.

Best Performance in a Variety Show (Individual or Ensemble)

‘Variety’ includes:

  • revues
  • concerts
  • burlesque shows
  • non-scripted cabaret
  • theatre restaurant shows
  • productions consisting of several short plays
  • anything else that doesn’t fit neatly into ‘play’ or ‘musical’

Performances nominated can be a single song, scene or act with any number of participants. Criteria are similar to the Best Actor/Actress and Ensemble categories.

Best Orchestra

Not to be confused with Best Musical Director. This award can be for either a band or an orchestra. It focuses on the quality of the band or orchestra and not on vocals or other aspects of the music. For example, balance between pit and stage is the responsibility of the musical director and is not considered in this category.

  • Tuning
  • Quality and accuracy of the orchestral playing
  • Good balance between sections of the orchestra

Best Actor/Actress in a Play (Featured or Leading Role)

  • Ability to create a believable character within a role
  • Ability to feel the right emotions within the role, and communicate them to audience
  • Communication with, and reaction to other actors
  • Ability to hold attention of the audience and other actors
  • Ability to sustain a role through an entire performance; to sustain momentum, mood, atmosphere, rhythm and pace.
  • Effective use of space and positioning in relation to other actors and the audience
  • Effective physical movement, and use of props or set
  • Effective vocal technique which supports the characterisation, including projection, articulation, variety, intonation, accents

Best Actor/Actress in a Musical (Featured or Leading Role)

Same as for a Play but judges also look at the quality of the voice and singing:

  • Suitability of the voice for the role
  • Musicianship
  • Vocal quality including tone, accuracy, dynamics, diction, evenness across vocal range
  • Ability to ‘sell’ a song even if lacking in vocal resources.

Best Choreographer

  • Originality
  • Supports the director’s vision, so that all elements of movement and dance work as part of the larger picture
  • Suits the style of the music and matches the genre or period
  • Suits the abilities of the performers and caters effectively for different skill levels
  • Variety across musical numbers
  • Variety within routines, for example using different rhythms, spacing, intensity, climaxes
  • Overcomes any special challenges, for example limitations of stage space, costumes
  • Creative use of performance space
  • Evidence of effective rehearsal techniques

Best Musical Director

  • An emotionally satisfying and engaging interpretation of all aspects of the music that supports the director’s vision for the production
  • Stylistic suitability for genre or period
  • Quality of the vocals in terms of quality, accuracy and diction
  • Quality, accuracy and sensitivity of the orchestra
  • Good balance between  orchestra and singers, soloists and chorus, vocal sections, orchestral sections
  • Appropriate tempi
  • Appropriate casting of soloists
  • Evidence of making the best use of limited resources; for example adapting style to the talents of the singers, rescoring orchestra parts for small band

Best Director

  • Evidence of an overarching vision for the production that has been effectively communicated to everyone involved
  • Integration of all aspects of the production (such as design, technical effects, sound, choreography, background music)
  • Evidence of background research (for example into the history, customs, culture and style of the period) and of this having been passed on to the cast.
  • Effective blocking that allows for purposeful movements, makes use of the performance space, creates visual variety, creates focus for the audience
  • Believable characterisations
  • Clear relationships between characters
  • Generation and maintenance of audience interest and excitement throughout, including during scene changes
  • Variation in pace and rhythm to maintain energy and interest
  • Interesting business that supports the action (but doesn’t intrude)
  •   Cast discipline; for example:
    • performers not ad-libbing unnecessarily or making up business as they go along
    • performers working together as a team and not upstaging each other
    • children staying in character and maintaining focus
  • Appropriate casting
  • Effective solutions to any special challenges of the production (for example lots of scene and costume changes, large cast, technical challenges, different historical periods in the one work, etc)
  • Effective solutions to any special challenges arising from the venue (for example stage size and shape, lack of technical facilities)
  • Evidence of effective rehearsal.

Best Production

Judges look for the production that:

  • achieves the director’s vision to the highest extent
  • rates highly across all categories
  • has no significant weak areas
  • has the highest level of overall audience enjoyment and engagement