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Helpmann Awards recognise Book of Mormon as best musical, Nick Cave and Patti Smith as top concerts
Broadway hit The Book Of Mormon has swept aside Dame Julie Andrews' production of My Fair Lady to win best musical at this year's Helpmann Awards.
Presented overnight at Sydney's Capitol Theatre in Sydney, the Book of Mormon took out best musical and best direction of a musical at the 17th edition of Live Performance Australia's annual awards.
The Tony Award-winning musical comedy's tale about two young Mormon missionaries who are sent on a mission from the US state of Utah to Uganda was recognised by has proved a hit with audiences around the globe.
Created by the writers behind cult TV animated comedy South Park, it received eight Helpmann nominations, just one short of the nine that went to My Fair Lady, whose leading lady Anna O'Byrne took out the best female actor in a musical.
Directed by Dame Julie, who made her Broadway debut as Eliza Doolittle 60 years ago, the musical's Robyn Nevin also picked up a gong for best female actor in a supporting role.
Acclaimed Australian actress Leah Purcell's adaptation of Henry Lawson's tale The Drover's Wife collected a string of theatrical awards, including Best Play, Best New Work, Best Direction of a Play, and Best Male Actor in a Play.
George Frideric Handel's musical masterpiece Saul picked up the most overall awards, taking out six categories including Best Opera.
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds also won Best Australian Contemporary Concert for their emotionally-charged tour in support of the album Skeleton Tree at the start of this year while Patti Smith won the Best International Contemporary Concert category.
The Helpmann Awards are held annually to recognise distinguished artistic achievement and excellence in Australian live performance.
Live Performance Australia Chief Executive Evelyn Richardson sees that the Helpmann Awards continue to grow in stature as the nation’s pre-eminent honours in the performing arts.
Richardson explained “every year the issue comes up of recognising international works as local, and it’s always challenging because we have so many co-productions now and ways in which shows are being put together and put on stage.
“Things aren’t linear any more, in that sense. Companies work together to put shows on, and they have an international and an Australian component.”
Special achievement awards went to the Australian Chamber Orchestra’s artistic director Richard Tognetti, arts administrator Rob Brookman, and Ross Cunningham, the longstanding chairman of the Helpmann Awards administration committee.
2017 Helpmann Awards notable winners:
Best Musical: The Book of Mormon
Best Play: Drover's Wife
Best Ballet: Ballet Preljocaj's Snow White
Best Dance: Attractor
Best Australian Contemporary Concert: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Best International Contemporary Concert: Patti Smith
Best Comedy Performer: Hannah Gadsby
Outstanding Contribution to the Live Performance Industry: Ross Cunningham
Click here to view full results on The Helpmann Awards website.
Images: The Book of Mormon (top) and Ross Cunningham (below).
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