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First 2019 Helpmann Award winners announced

First 2019 Helpmann Award winners announced
July 14, 2019

The first night of the 2019 Helpmann Awards has seen 20 industry winners presented in categories including the best creative, designer and supporting roles, as well as the Awards for Best Presentation for Children and Young People, Best Regional Touring Production and Best Special Event.

Being presented in Melbourne for the first time, the 2019 Helpmann Awards Act I presentations were made at an intimate, industry-only cocktail hour event.

In addition, the 2019 Sue Nattrass Award for outstanding service to the live performance industry was presented to Liz Jones AO, long serving Artistic Director of Melbourne’s La Mama Theatre.

Hosted by performer, writer and artistic director, Robyn Archer AO, the evening’s performances included The Jack Earle Jazz Trio, Rhonda Burchmore and Rob Mills of Swing on This.

Counting and Cracking, the epic, new play by S. Shakthidharan, produced by Belvoir and Co-Curious, was the big winner of the evening with four awards.

The play, which moves between 1956 and 2004, premiered at the 2019 Sydney Festival and then moved to the Adelaide Festival. Eamon Flack and S. Shakthidharan took home the Helpmann Award for Best Direction of a Play. Vaishnavi Suryaprakash was named Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role in a Play, Dale Ferguson won Best Scenic Design, and Stefan Gregory won Best Sound Design.

Best Direction of an Opera went to Barrie Kosky and Suzanne Andrade for their production of The Magic Flute for Komische Oper Berlin, which came to the 2019 Perth and Adelaide Festivals. The visually stunning production used a kaleidoscopic design of exquisite hand-drawn animation by Paul Barritt from British theatre company 1927, ingeniously related to the music. Tom Erik Lee, who played Papageno, also won Best Male Performer in a Supporting Role in an Opera.

Taryn Fiebig won Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role in an Opera for her portrayal of Gregor Samsa’s Mother in Opera Australia’s revival of Brian Howard’s opera Metamorphosis. Best Direction of a Musical went to Francesca Zambello for her direction of Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour: West Side Story, also produced by Opera Australia. Erin Helyard took home the award for Best Music Direction for Pinchgut Opera’s production of Hasse’s Artaserse – another accolade for the production which won Best Rediscovered Work at this year’s International Opera Awards.

In a moving moment, Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role in a Play was posthumously won by Paul Blackwell, who died in February, for his performance in Faith Healer, a Belvoir production presented by State Theatre Company of South Australia.

Elaine Crombie was named Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical for her performance in Barbara and the Camp Dogs, produced by Belvoir in association with Vicki Gordon Music Productions Pty Ltd. Barbara and the Camp Dogs also won Best Original Score for the songs by Ursula Yovich, Alana Valentine and Adm Ventoura, which ranged from rock to funk to soul to ballads. Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical went to Tony Sheldon for the John Frost production of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory The New Musical.

Best Presentation for Children and Young People was won by Arena Theatre Company’s Robot Song, Best Regional Touring Production was presented to Bangarra Dance Theatre’s Bennelong, while Best Special Event went to Dark Mofo 2018, produced by the Museum of Old and New Art (Mona).

In the dance categories, Antony Hamilton was awarded Best Choreography in a Ballet, Dance or Physical Theatre Production for his new work Forever & Ever created for Sydney Dance Company, while Malik Le Nost and Mitchell Woodcock won Best Choreography in a Musical for Saturday Night Fever, produced by John Frost in association with Robert Stigwood.

Gabriela Tylesova was awarded Best Costume Design for Melbourne Theatre Company’s Twelfth Night, directed by Simon Phillips, while Neil Austin won Best Lighting Design for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Parts One and Two) produced by Sonia Friedman Productions, Colin Callender, Harry Potter Theatrical Productions, and Australian Executive Producer, Michael Cassel.

The remaining 23 awards will be presented at The Helpmann Awards Act II tomorrow evening at the State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne.

The ceremony will be broadcast live on ABC Comedy at 8pm, with highlights from Act I included in the broadcast.

Images: Bangarra Dance Theatre’s Bennelong was named Best Regional Touring Production (top) and Neil Austin won Best Lighting Design for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (below) at the 2019 Helpmann Awards.

Related Articles

11th July 2019 - Arts Centre Melbourne ready to host 19th Annual Helpmann Awards

12th June 2019 - Nominations announced for 19th Annual Helpmann Awards

7th June 2019 - Kev Carmody awarded for outstanding contribution to the Australian live entertainment industry

29th April 2019 - La Mama Artistic Director Liz Jones to receive Sue Nattrass Award

17th July 2018 - Sydney Theatre Company wins in 10 categories at 2018 Helpmann Awards

16th July 2018 - Bangarra Dance Theatre and Muriel’s Wedding The Musical the early winners at 2018 Helpmann Awards

10th July 2018 - Final performers, hosts and presenters announced for 18th Annual Helpmann Awards

22nd May 2018 - Melbourne snatches future Helpmann Awards ceremonies from Sydney

16th November 2017 - Live Performance Australia passes 100 year operational landmark

2nd August 2017 - Bangarra relocates to temporary Barangaroo home

14th July 2015 - Australia’s top live entertainment names join Helpmann Awards line up

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