LOCAL talent took centre stage at the 45th annual City of Newcastle Drama Association (CONDA) awards, affectionately known as 'theatre Christmas'.
A panel of six judges went to 61 productions throughout the year at venues across Maitland to Speers Point and Newcastle CBD to pick the winners in 27 categories.
The calibre of theatre produced in Newcastle this year was exceptional, CONDA head judge Karen Birrell said.
"This year, the CONDA winners hailed from 12 different local theatre companies, reflecting a broad distribution of achievements in design, technical achievement, performance, direction and writing across the region," she said.
The most prestigious award, recognising Outstanding Achievement and Contribution to Theatre, went to Mercia Buck OAM, founder of Opera Hunter and influential in the establishment of the Warners Bay Theatre, for her decades of involvement and advocacy for the industry.
CONDA president Dr Shane Bransdon said it was great to see so many different companies winning awards this year.
"Some years there are particular shows that dominate and take home quite a few awards, but this year, there was a great spread, demonstrating there is quality work being produced everywhere," he said.
"The awards would not have been possible without the generous support of CONDA's highly valued sponsors, including Out of the Square, in its tenth year as major sponsor."
The coveted award for Best Musical Production went to Heathers the Musical, produced by Chookas Entertainment, while the Best Play accolade was awarded to Knock and Run Theatre for their production of Ideation.
The CONDA Legacy Awards acknowledge the ongoing efforts of some of the unsung heroes in the industry.
This year's recipients included Vivien Jones for decades of work as an arts administrator at Young People's Theatre and Newcastle Theatre Company, Nola Wallace for her lifelong dedication as an educator and actress and John Zeder for his dedication to technical services.