The Straits Times revamps Life! Theatre Awards to engage readers

After more than a decade, the format of the Life! Theatre Awards ceremony is being revamped to engage readers and connect them to the magic of theatre.

There will be a lively debate between members of the theatre community prior to the awards ceremony.

The introduction of a new awards category, the Readers' Choice Award, also gives readers and theatre lovers a chance to vote online for their favourite production of 2012. The results will be unveiled at the ceremony.

The theatre production with the most nominations - six in all - is Company, a big-hearted take on the Stephen Sondheim musical of the same name by Dream World Productions.

The large-scale Lao Jiu: The Musical (The Theatre Practice) and La Cage Aux Folles (Wild Rice) follow close behind with four nominations each.

Smaller black box productions such as Patricia Toh's Pretty Things, an exploration of lost innocence, which was staged as part of The Substation's Open Call, and Oliver Chong's touching family history tale, Roots (The Finger Players), also made it to the Production of the Year shortlist. (See full list of nominees in the attachment below).

Ms Helen Chia, editor of The Straits Times Life!, said: "We started the Life! Theatre Awards 13 years ago to recognize and celebrate the best achievements in theatre.

"The theatre scene has come a long way since the awards were first given out - more practitioners have become professionals and can make a living from the arts, and the quantity and quality of shows have grown. The audience has also grown and become more discerning."

She added: "As the main newspaper which gives serious coverage to the arts and which reaches out to 1.4 million readers, we have decided that the ceremony should go beyond celebrating the practitioners. We want to include our readers and engage them.

"Hence we have introduced the live debate and will be asking our readers to join in the celebration. We want to make the Life! Theatre Awards part of The Straits Times' programme to engage our readers."

Mr Stephane Fabregoul, general manager of W Singapore - Sentosa Cove, said: "W Singapore is honoured to be the official venue partner for this prestigious event. We look forward to putting on a fantastic awards ceremony and welcoming the luminaries of the local theatre world to our hotel."

The awards were judged by a seven-member panel, comprising theatre academic Edith Podesta; theatre reviewers Helmi Yusof, Chew Boon Leong and Corrie Tan from The Business Times, Lianhe Zaobao and The Straits Times respectively; co-editors Kenneth Kwok and Matthew Lyon of online arts journal The Flying Inkpot; and former Life! arts correspondent Adeline Chia, now an editor at the online culture magazine Artinfo.

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