It was a night of glitz and glamour, bold colours, and quite a few surprises. Such was the scene at the 14th Boh Cameronian Arts Awards, which was held recently in Kuala Lumpur.

Held annually, the awards (organised by Kakiseni) are devoted to recognising excellence in the Malaysian performing arts scene. For this 14th edition, however, the awards received a little bit more attention than usual, due to announcements that there would be alterations to its usual format. These changes, which involved the removal of judging categories, and a new list of “Best Of” productions for the year, took the local arts industry by surprise.

While reactions to these changes were mixed, local arts practitioners turned up in full support. Also present during the awards were National Culture And Arts Department director-general Tan Sri Norliza Rofli, and representatives from about 30 corporate institutions, or “corporate champions”, as Kakiseni president Low Ngai Yuen called them.

The Cameronian have been repackaged not just to acknowledge the talent, but also to serve as a bridge between them and corporate investors.

This year’s event, hosted by actor Edwin Sumun, saw 12 awards being presented, as compared to 42 last year. While many of the winners came from the “Best Of” 2016 list, there were also many shows that still managed to take home accolades.

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Singers Dina (left) and Elvira performing And I Am Telling You I Am Not Going from the musical Dreamgirls at the opening of the 14th Boh Cameronian Arts Awards.

For Music, Checkmate Creative picked up the Best Production Values award for its production Carpe Diem, while Fung Chern Wei won the Best Instrumental Solo Performance for his Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto.

For Dance, the Asia Duo Dance Company picked up the Best Dance Group Performance award for its Cansur performance in Axiomatic, while Ng Chor Guan won Best Sound and Music Design for 2020: I’m From 2020. Choreographers Anthony Meh and Aman Yap won the Best Choreography In a Production award for Black And White@Variation Rerun 2016.

“It’s a big encouragement for us to keep trying for the future,” says Meh.

For Theatre, PH Production Management’s The Language Archive took home two awards: set designer Raja Malek for Best Set Design and Best Actor in a Supporting Role went to Sukania Venugopal.

Dr Deric Gan took home the Best Director award for his Mandarin take on Shakespeare’s classic tragedy Richard III (presented by The Actors Studio Seni Teater Rakyat and Muka Space Productions).

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Performer Shanel Shanty performing Arena Cahaya, one of the theme songs from the movie Ola Bola.

“This has a very deep meaning for me, to see Chinese theatre being recognised like this,” says Gan, who had also won the same award last year for his play The Dawns Here Are Quiet.

For Musical Theatre, Pan Productions’ Into The Woods nabbed the Best Overall Production award.

Elsewhere, Liver and Lung Productions walked away with the Innovation in Musical Theatre award for Mahsuri And Other Peculiar Tales, a musical on Malaysian folktales adapted in a cafe setting.

Two Malaysian-born artistes, and a homegrown collective, were also honoured as “Game Changers” at the recent Cammies. They were Rani Moorthy, a Manchester, England-based theatre producer/filmmaker and, Rendra Zawawi, a Los Angeles-based music producer/singer-songwriter.

The honorary list was completed with the Muar, Johor-based Kun Seng Keng Lion And Dragon Dance Association, the 11-time title holder of the Genting World Lion Dance Championship.

For more information, head to kakiseni.com.

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Sukania Venugopal (right) of The Language Archive receives the Best Actor in a Supporting Role award from Tan Chong Hing, of the Kun Seng Keng Lion and Dance Dragon Association.