The only thing that has superseded Melissa Yockney’s delight at winning a top Otago Southland Theatre Award is the surprise that came with it.
She was named winner of the outstanding individual achievement award at the awards, presented at a glitzy ceremony at Toitu Otago Settlers Museum in Dunedin last Saturday night.
The award recognises the efforts of an individual who has made an outstanding contribution during the 2016 calendar year.
In Yockney’s case, that was for directing Musical Theatre Oamaru’s dinner theatre production Time Warp, where the two major characters find themselves on the brink of a mid-1990s political scandal and take a journey through time to try to stop it from happening.
The action is set to music hits from the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s.
“I didn’t even know I’d been nominated. The sneaky Musical Theatre Oamaru committee did that behind my back,” she said.
“It was a surprise, but I was very excited.”
In a citation read out at the awards, she was praised for stepping in when a local director could not be found.
“Melissa, with no directorial experience, put her hand up and her neck out to take on the show,” the citation read.
“She was staring down the barrel of producing a show in just six weeks, a show that was still in draft form. With amazing energy, she tweaked song requirements to suit her cast with outstanding success. She encouraged younger members of the cast and gave each of them an opportunity to shine and challenged them as performers.
“As a society, we are always very proud of the achievements of our membership. However, what Melissa did for Musical Theatre Oamaru in 2016 was in our opinion above and beyond the call of duty. The show was a financial success, our cast, crew and band had a positive performance and production experience, and the Oamaru community responded very favourably to the show.”
Yockney, who worked in the prop and wardrobe departments during previous productions, said she thoroughly enjoyed her directorial debut and did not rule out another stint in the director’s chair.
“In the future, I would certainly be up for it. It was a fun experience, but a very big learning curve.”
The award gives $500 for travel and accommodation to attend Musical Theatre New Zealand’s annual conference.