Theatre’s night of nights

Up for 10 Helpmann Awards: Opera Australia’s The King and I. Photo: The King and I/Facebook

 

BY EDOARDO MESITI

The 14th Annual Helpmann Awards, Australia’s live entertainment industry’s night of nights, is upon us once again. This year’s nominations were announced simultaneously across six major Australian cities, and Opera Australia’s The King and I and The Melbourne Ring Cycle have topped the nominations list with ten nods each. The cream of the Aussie theatre crop were on hand at the nomination events with Lisa McCune, Todd Mckenny, John Wood, Nancye Hayes, Simon Gleeson, Li Cunixn, Greta Scacchi and Jonathan Biggins making the announcements.

Celebrating the best in theatre, concerts and festivals, the Helpmanns are Australia’s equivalent of the Tony Awards for Broadway in New York, and the Olivier’s in London’s West End. The accolade is handed out by Live Performance Australia, the live entertainment industry workplace relations body. CEO Evelyn Richardson said, live productions in Australia attract 16 million people annually, with revenues up to $1.2 billion.

The King and I, which is currently running in Melbourne’s Princess Theatre, stars real life couple Lisa McCune and Teddy Tahu Rhodes (who will star in the Sydney production) as Anna and the King, respectively. The show has been nominated for Best Musical, Best choreography, Best Direction of a Musical and Best Lead Actress in a Musical (for McCune), amongst others. Ring Cycle is currently showing at Art Centre Melbourne, and comprises four operas. Directed by acclaimed theatre director (and 9 time Helpmann Award winner) Neil Armfield, the production has received nominations for Best Opera, Best Direction of an Opera for Armfield, Best Lead Actor, and Best Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress.

Australian production Strictly Ballroom, based on the original film directed by Baz Luhrmann, has gained seven nominations. Luhrmann has gained a nod for Best Direction of a Musical, and his wife Catherine Martin, who won two Academy Awards this year for her work on The Great Gatsby (also directed by her husband), earning a nomination for Best Costume Design. Surprisingly, Ballroom was outdone by independent production Sweet Charity. The show had its run earlier this year at the 110-seat Hayes Theatre in Potts Point, and has garnered eight nominations. It’s also interesting to note that being a critically acclaimed show doesn’t guarantee multiple nominations, with Sydney’s The Lion King gaining two and Melbourne’s Wicked only getting one.
 

Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom, The Musical. Photo: Strictly Ballroom the Musical/Facebook

 
Sydney productions have dominated the “plays” field of the awards, with The Shadow King and Waiting for Godot earning four nominations each, both being nominated for Best Play and Best Direction of a Play. Angels in America and Maids, also Sydney based, have gained two. Cate Blanchett, who stars in the latter production, has received her fifth career nomination for Best Lead Actress in a Play, having previously won three times. After multiple award wins (including an Oscar) this year for her role in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, will Blanchett continue her prize collecting spree with a Helpmann at this years’ ceremony?

And speaking of the ceremony, which is hosted by actor Jonathan Biggins (his fifth time compering the awards), it will feature a performance of the brand new production of Les Misérables, which is currently showing in Melbourne. A performance by the cast of Strictly Ballroom and a medley from The King I will also feature at this years’ show. Other performers include Mark Vincent, The Chooky Dancers, The Zephyr Quartet and the Wharf Review.

A brand new lifetime achievement award will be handed out at the 14th Helpmann Awards, alongside the long-standing JC Williamson Award (which was presented to theatre producer John Frost OAM). The “Sue Nattrass Award”, named in honour of Live Performance Australia president Sue Nattrass, is given to someone who isn’t high-profile, but has made a large contribution to Australia’s live entertainment industry. The inaugural recipient will be ticketing consultant Patricia Boggs, who began her career in the theatre industry in the 1960′s, and has since worked with over 150 productions in Australia and abroad. Destination NSW received a special award for Vivid Sydney 2013, which has become part of Sydney’s calendar of annual events, and attracted close to 1 million visitors for the 3 week, winter art extravaganza. Russell Ger has won the Brian Stacey Award for emerging conductors, and an $8000 cash prize that comes with it.

The 14th Helpmann Awards ceremony will be presented in Sydney at the Capitol Theatre on August 18 and broadcast live on Foxtel’s Arena channel.

Helpmann Award nominations 2014:

Best musical
Strictly Ballroom the Musical, Global Creatures
Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show, Howard Panter for Ambassador Theatre Group & John Frost
Sweet Charity, Luckiest Productions & Neil Gooding Productions in association with Hayes Theatre Co.
The King & I, Opera Australia & John Frost

Best opera
The Turk in Italy, Opera Australia
The Melbourne Ring Cycle, Opera Australia
La Traviata, State Opera of South Australia, New Zealand Opera, Opera Queensland
Nixon in China, Victorian Opera

Best play
Roman Tragedies, Adelaide Festival
Angels in America, Belvoir
Waiting For Godot, Sydney Theatre Company
The Shadow King, Malthouse Theatre and Melbourne Festival in association with the Confederation of Australian International Arts Festivals.

Best new Australian work
Jason De Santis & Eamon Flack, Wulamanayuwi & the Seven Pamanui, Darwin Festival and Performing Lines
Tom E Lewis and Michael Kantor, The Shadow King, Malthouse Theatre in association with the Confederation of Australian International Arts Festivals.
Tom Wright, Black Diggers, Queensland Theatre Company and Sydney Festival in association with the Confederation of Australian International Arts Festivals.
Rosemary Myers, Pinocchio, Windmill Theatre & State Theatre Company of South Australia

Best costume design
Catherine Martin, Strictly Ballroom the Musical
Gabriela Tylesova, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, Sydney Theatre Company
Gabriela Tylesova, the Turk in Italy, Opera Australia
Roger Kirk, The King & I, Opera Australia & John Frost

Best lighting design
Geoff Cobham, Pinocchio, Windmill Theatre and State Theatre Company of South Australia
Matt Scott, Nixon in China, Victorian Opera
Nick Schlieper, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, Sydney Theatre Company
Nigel Levings, The King & I, Opera Australia and John Frost

Best music direction
Andrew Worboys, Sweet Charity, Luckiest Productions & Neil Gooding Productions in association with Hayes Theatre Co.
Fabian Russell, Nixon in China, Victorian Opera
Nicolette Fraillon, Cinderella, The Australian Ballet
Pietari Inkinen, The Melbourne Ring Cycle, Opera Australia

Best original score
David Chisholm, The Bloody Chamber, Malthouse Theatre
David Page and Paul Mac, Blak, Bangarra Dance Theatre
Iain Grandage, When Time Stops, Expressions Dance Company and Queensland Performing Arts Centre
Jethro Woodward, Pinocchio, Windmill Theatre & State Theatre Company of South Australia
Nick Wales, AM I, Shaun Parker & Company in association with the Confederation of Australian International Arts Festivals.

Best scenic design
Brian Thomson, The King & I, Opera Australia & John Frost
Gabriela Tylesova, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, Sydney Theatre Company
Jonathan Oxlade, Pinocchio, Windmill Theatre & State Theatre Company of South Australia
Robert Cousins, The Melbourne Ring Cycle, Opera Australia

Best sound design
Jessica James-Moody, Sweet Charity, Luckiest Productions & Neil Gooding Productions in association with Hayes Theatre Co.
Jethro Woodward, The Bloody Chamber, Malthouse Theatre
Michael Waters, The King & I, Opera Australia and John Frost
Tony David Cray, Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour Madama Butterfly, Opera Australia

Best Australian contemporary concert
Tame Impala
Australian Chamber Orchestra featuring The Presets
Hunters & Collectors
Flume – Infinity Prism Tour

Best contemporary music festival
Bluesfest Byron Bay 2014
Vivid LIVE
Laneway Festival 2014
The Falls Music & Arts Festival

Best international contemporary concert
The Mrs Carter Show World Tour starring Beyonce
Eddie Vedder
Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band 2014
The Truth About Love Tour

Best direction of an opera
Chas Rader-Sheiber, Orlando, Hobart Baroque
Neil Armfield, The Melbourne Ring Cycle, Opera Australia
Roger Hodgmann, Nixon In China, Victorian Opera
Simon Phillips, The Turk In Italy, Opera Australia

Best female performer in a supporting role in an opera
Eva Jinhee Kong, Nixon In China, Victorian Opera
Jacqueline Dark, The Melbourne Ring Cycle, Opera Australia
Miriam Gordon-Stewart, The Melbourne Ring Cycle, Opera Australia

Best female performer in an opera
Christine Goerke, Elektra, Sydney Symphony Orchestra
Emma Matthews, The Turk In Italy, Opera Australia
Jessica Pratt, La Traviata, Victorian Opera
Kathryn Lewek, Orlando, Hobart Baroque

Best male performer in a supporting role in an opera
Andrew Collis, Cinderella, Opera Queensland
Daniel Sumegi, The Melbourne Ring Cycle, Opera Australia
Mario Bellanova, La Traviata, State Opera of South Australia, New Zealand Opera, Opera Queensland
Warwick Fyfe, The Melbourne Ring Cycle, Opera Australia

Best male performer in an opera
Barry Ryan, Nixon In China, Victorian Opera
Riccardo Massi, La Forza del Destino, Opera Australia
Stefan Vinke, The Melbourne Ring Cycle, Opera Australia
Terje Stensvold, The Melbourne Ring Cycle, Opera Australia
Yonghoon Lee, Tosca, Opera Australia

Best chamber and/or instrumental ensemble concert
The Jerusalem Project, Melbourne Recital Centre and Sydney Opera House
Tokyo String Quartet, Musica Viva Australia
Akademie fur Alte Musik Berlin, Sydney Festival
Murray Perahia in Recital, Sydney Symphony Orchestra

Best symphony orchestra concert
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra; Arts Centre Melbourne, Perth Concert Hall, Queensland Performing Arts Centre and Sydney Opera House
Bach Christmas Oratorio, Australian Chamber Orchestra
War Requiem, Sydney Symphony Orchestra
Asher Fisch Conducts and Plays Mozart, West Australian Symphony Orchestra

Best individual classical music performance
Andreas Scholl, Andreas Scholl sings Vivaldi, Australian Chamber Orchestra
Julia Lezhneva, Julia Lezhneva with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, Hobart Baroque
Mariss Jansons, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra; Arts Centre Melbourne, Perth Concert Hall, Queensland Performing Arts Centre and Sydney Opera House
Murray Perahia, Melbourne Recital Centre in association with Sydney Symphony Orchestra

Best comedy performer
Ronny Chieng
Sam Simmons
The Boy With Tape On His Face
Tom Gleeson

Best cabaret performer
Jerick Hoffer (as Jinkx Monsoon)
The Vaudevillians starring Jinkx Monsoon, Strut & Fret Production House
Lady Rizo, presented by Adelaide Cabaret Festival and Sydney Festival
Sarah Ward
Yana Alana Between The Cracks, Ebony Bott at fortyfivedownstairs
Tommy Bradson: REG, Adelaide Cabaret Festival

Best ballet or dance work
Sadeh21, Adelaide Festival & Perth International Arts Festival
Bolshoi Ballet – The Bright Stream, Queensland Performing Arts Centre
Chroma, The Australian Ballet
Ballet At The Quarry: Radio and Juliet, West Australian Ballet

Best choreography in a dance or physical theatre production
Daniel Jaber, Nought, Australian Dance Theatre
Garry Stewart, Monument, The Australian Ballet
Natalie Weir, When Time Stops, Expressions Dance Company and Queensland Performing Arts Centre
Rafael Bonachela, Les Illuminations, Sydney Dance Company and Sydney Opera House
Stephanie Lake, A Small Prometheus, Melbourne Festival, Arts House and Insite Arts

Best female dancer in a dance or physical theatre production
Charmene Yap, 2 in D Minor as part of Interplay, Sydney Dance Company
Dalisa Pigram, Gudirr Gudirr, Marrugeku. Presented by Sydney Festival
Fiona Evans, Onegin, West Australian Ballet
Lucinda Dunn, Manon, The Australian Ballet

Best male dancer in a dance or physical theatre production
Andre Santos, Russell Kerr’s Peter Pan, West Australian Ballet
Daniel Gaudiello, Cinderella, The Australian Ballet
James Vu Anh Pham, 247 Days, Chunky Move
Kimball Wong, Nought, Australian Dance Theatre

Best visual or physical theatre production
Opus, Circa.
Whelping Box, Branch Nebula, Matt Prest & Clare Britton, produced by Intimate Spectacle & Performing Lines, presented by Performance Space & Arts House
A Midsummer Night’s Dream (As You Like It), Perth International Arts Festival
Circus Under My Bed, Sydney Opera House, Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Arts Centre Melbourne, The Flying Fruit Fly Circus

Best regional touring production
G, Australian Dance Theatre
Jack Charles vs The Crown, Ilbijerri Theatre Company
Djuki Mala, Chooky Dancers
Happy As Larry, Shaun Parker & Company

Best presentation for children
Miss Ophelia, Arts Centre Melbourne and Sydney Opera House
Storm Boy, Barking Gecko Theatre Company & Sydney Theatre Company
Wulamanayuwi & the Seven Pamanui, Darwin Festival & Performing Lines
The House Where Winter Lives, Perth International Arts Festival
Pinocchio, Windmill Theatre & State Theatre Company of South Australia

Best direction of a play
Andrew Upton, Waiting For Godot, Sydney Theatre Company
Ivo Van Hove, Roman Tragedies, Adelaide Festival
Michael Kantor, The Shadow King, Malthouse Theatre in association with the Confederation of Australian International Arts Festivals.
Sam Strong, The Floating World, Griffin Theatre Company

Best female actor in a supporting role in a play
Elizabeth Debicki, The Maids, Sydney Theatre Company
Robyn Nevin, Angels In America, Belvoir
Susan Prior, Small and Tired, Belvoir
Zahra Newman, The Government Inspector, Belvoir & Malthouse Theatre

Best female actor in a play
Alison Whyte, The Bloody Chamber, Malthouse Theatre
Cate Blanchett, The Maids, Sydney Theatre Company
Ursula Yovich, Mother Courage and Her Children, Queensland Theatre Company and Queensland Performing Arts Centre
Zahra Newman, The Mountaintop, Melbourne Theatre Company

Best male actor in a supporting role in a play
Ewen Leslie, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Sydney Theatre Company
Jimi Bani, The Shadow King, Malthouse Theatre in association with the Confederation of Australian International Arts Festivals
Luke Mullins, Waiting for Godot, Sydney Theatre Company
Tom Budge, The Beast, Melbourne Theatre Company

Best male actor in a play
Denis O’Hare, An Iliad, Adelaide Festival and Perth International Arts Festival
Luke Carroll, The Cake Man, Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company and Belvoir
Paul Blackwell, Vere (Faith), State Theatre Company of South Australia & Sydney Theatre Company
Richard Roxburgh, Waiting For Godot, Sydney Theatre Company

Best choreography in a musical
Andrew Hallsworth, Sweet Charity, Luckiest Productions & Neil Gooding Productions in association with Hayes Theatre Co.
David Atkins & Dein Perry, Hot Shoe Shuffle, David Atkins Enterprises
John O’Connell, Strictly Ballroom The Musical, Global Creatures
Susan Kikuchi, The King & I, Opera Australia & John Frost

Best direction of a musical
Baz Luhrmann, Strictly Ballroom The Musical, Global Creatures
Christopher Renshaw, The King & I, Opera Australia & John Frost
Dean Bryant, Sweet Charity, Luckiest Productions & Neil Gooding Productions in association with Hayes Theatre Co.
Rosemary Myers, Pinocchio, Windmill Theatre and State Theatre Company of South Australia

Best female actor in a supporting role in a musical
Debora Krizak, Sweet Charity
Heather Mitchell, Strictly Ballroom The Musical, Global Creatures
Lucy Maunder, Grease, John Frost
Shu-Cheen Yu, The King & I, Opera Australia & John Frost

Best female actor in a musical
Caroline O’Connor, Gypsy: A Musical Fable, The Production Company
Lisa McCune, The King & I, Opera Australia & John Frost
Phoebe Panaretos, Strictly Ballroom The Musical
Verity Hunt-Ballard, Sweet Charity, Luckiest Productions & Neil Gooding Productions in association with Hayes Theatre Co.

Best male actor in a supporting role in a musical
Drew Forsythe, Strictly Ballroom, Global Creatures
Marty Rhone, The King & I, Opera Australia & John Frost
Reg Livermore, Wicked, Marc Platt, David Stone, Universal Pictures, The Araca Group, Jon B. Platt, John Frost
Russell Dykstra, The Lion King, Disney Theatrical Productions

Best male actor in a musical
Craig McLachlan, Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show, Howard Panter for Ambassador Theatre Group & John Frost
Josh Quong Tart, The Lion King, Disney Theatrical Productions
Martin Crewes, Sweet Charity, Luckiest Productions & Neil Gooding Productions in association with Hayes Theatre Co.
Matt Hetherington, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, James Anthony Productions

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