One of South Africa’s most enduring entertainers, Alvon Collison, was honoured at the Naledi Theatre Awards in Johannesburg on Tuesday, 19 April, when he received a Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to the theatre.
The Naledi Theatre Awards, now in its 12th year, honours and applauds theatre excellence in a variety of fields.
Affectionately known as ‘Mr Showbiz’, Collison, who is based in Cape Town, has received several awards in his illustrious career spanning five decades, having received his first big award in 1975.
“It is great to receive recognition after being in the business for so many years,” says Collison. “We all long to be acknowledged by our peers. I am so grateful to receive this honour.”
He continues; “I think it is wonderful. We all know that this business is not exactly the most lucrative, so to receive a pat on the back, for a job well done, is fantastic. And it’s a great way to inspire new talent.”
“My first award was the Gallo Award in 1975 for my role as Pharoah in Joseph and his Technicolor Dreamcoat. I also received The Three Leaf Award in Cape Town for the same role. And in 2011 I received The Civic Honour, from The City of Cape Town.”
The ever-flamboyant Collison believes he was given a second chance in life after being rescued from the ill-fated Oceanos, which sank near Coffee Bay on the Wild Coast in August 1991, and he is making the most of it.
He says he came to the realisation early on in his career that you cannot wait for work to come your way; “‘You must create your own work. I have been blessed that I have been able to do this job for over 50 years.”
He illustrates this by quoting a line from a Sinatra song; “But now the days are short, I’m in the autumn of the years. And now I think of my life as vintage wine…from fine old kegs. I am not there yet…although I turn 75 years old on April 25th.”
Collison is still active in an industry he loves. “I still sing all over the place. I do my own shows for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Women’s Day and Christmas.”
He has featured in mega musicals such as Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita and in countless performances of his own production, Showtime. He has been a regular on TV, too, including Spotlight on Alvon Collison, Late Night Live, Open End, The Knicky Knacky Knoo Show, Something Old, Something New, Music a la Carte, and Afrikaans programmes like Revue Plus, Noot vir Noot and Lirieke Raai.
Asked how he felt about the state of South African theatre, Collison replies: “On the surface it’s seems to be healthy, if you look at all these lavish shows being staged here, but it’s the smaller shows that are struggling. I wish the smaller shows could get the same support and sponsorship as these big assembly-line shows. The smaller guys can’t afford to run very long. In many cases they never get reviewed or considered for awards. It’s sad that the former arts councils don’t produce more shows themselves, and are rather content to become hiring venues.”
For more information, visit www.naleditheatreawards.org.za and watch the 2016 promotional video here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XR3-vsl-FPc). Alternatively, you can connect with them on Facebook or on Twitter(https://twitter.com/NalediAwardsSA).
Author: Gilly Hemphill
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