The show Covid-19 alert level 2 couldn't stop was the star of this year's Regional Theatre Awards.
At a glitzy and at times boisterous night last Friday at the Conference & Function Centre in Palmerston North, the audience chose Act Three Productions' Sister Act as the 2020 people's choice production of the year.
Act Three Productions also received a special award for outstanding innovative and creative initiative to ensure the show must go on.
Sister Act was originally scheduled for last April but postponed due to Covid-19. It was then to be performed in August but due to changes in alert levels, it was once again postponed.
Act Three Productions worked with Regent on Broadway staff to come up with an innovative way for the show to go on despite the level 2 restrictions.
The theatre was divided into four sections to keep patrons socially distanced and with a maximum of 100 people in each section. Each section had its own exits and entrances, and toilet facilities.
The show was eventually performed in late August and early September.
"What we managed to do was something no one else in the world has been able to do," Act Three Productions president Merryn Osborne said when receiving the people's choice award.
Mayor Grant Smith said it was an understatement to say 2020 was a difficult year, but especially so for the performing arts. One word captures the essence of 2020 – perseverance, he said. Eighteen productions across the wider regions still managed to be staged last year.
The evening started on a reflective note with a waiata tangi to acknowledge the deaths of Henare Green, father of actress Carrie Green, and theatre luminary Pat Snoxell, who died earlier this month.
Cr Rachel Bowen also acknowledged the death of Snoxell, noting he cast her in the Sound of Music as an understudy nun.
"Pat would have loved this and we loved him and this is special to think about him tonight."
She described Sister Act as the show that kept on going, the show Covid couldn't stop.
Sister Act's haul of awards included direction in a musical (Andrea Maxwell), male supporting actor in a musical (Shannan Jacobs), female supporting actor in a musical (Jo Sale) and male actor in a musical (Chris Thompson).