This week Sydney played host to the Helpmann Awards – the annual awards for live performance in Australia. Think the Tony Awards or the Oliviers, but local and reaching out to include dance, opera, ballet, music festivals, comedy, and classical music. You can find all of this year’s winners here.
The Helpmanns are fraught for a number of reasons – the fact that it’s difficult to have a national awards program when voters are scattered across the country (work that has been seen in more than one city tends to win just because it has been more visible); that few women and people of colour are nominated for prominent awards; and that long-dead costume designers can secure a nod over and above our local talent.
So to address those problems, we’re awarding some gongs of our own. We’ll keep the hometown advantage, because Sydney’s arts scene is vibrant and deserving of recognition by its own city-based media (and that’s where we do most of our theatre-going), but we’re going to reach out and pick some winners that might never get their work celebrated in a flashy ceremony at the Capitol Theatre, on the set of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert the Musical.
BEST MUSICAL TO CAST LATINX PERFORMERS IN LATINX ROLES, FOR ONCE
In the Heights, Hayes Theatre.
BEST ACTORS SHARING A LEADING ROLE
Michala Banas, Natalie Bassingthwaighte, Casey Donovan, Virginia Gay, Verity Hunt-Ballard, Dami Im, Maggie McKenna, Zahra Newman, Caroline O’Connor, Queenie van de Zandt, Megan Washington and Trevor Ashley, Funny Girl the Musical in Concert, Sydney Symphony Orchestra.
BEST SHORT PERFORMANCE, GENRE-DEFYING CATEGORY
Omar Musa in Since Ali Died, Batch Festival.
BEST ONSTAGE ROMANCE
Muriel (Maggie McKenna) and Rhonda (Madeleine Jones), Muriel’s the Wedding the Musical.
BEST ONSTAGE FLOORING
The mirror floor in Assassins, Hayes Theatre/Sydney Opera House.
BEST REPRESENTATION OF THE FEELING OF MOVING TO SYDNEY, WHERE YOUR SMALL TOWN DREAMS FINALLY FEEL WITHIN REACH
‘Sydney’, Muriel’s Wedding the Musical.
MOST COURAGEOUS PERFORMANCE
Christie Whelan-Browne in her life.
BEST ENSEMBLE IN A MUSICAL
Calamity Jane, Hayes Theatre Co/on tour.
BEST ENSEMBLE IN A PLAY
Mr Burns: A Post-Electric Play, Belvoir.
THEATRE SEASON THAT FELT THE MOST CONNECTED TO THE CURRENT TIMES
Kings Cross Theatre’s independent season, 2017.
BEST USE OF A TINA ARENA TRACK
‘Chains’ karaoke, Single Asian Female, La Boite Theatre Company/Belvoir.
THE ‘FINALLY’ AWARD FOR FIRST MAINSTAGE AUSTRALIAN WORK TO EVER FEATURE A CAST OF ASIAN-AUSTRALIAN LEADS
Single Asian Female.
BEST DINNER PARTY SCENE
Top Girls, Sydney Theatre Co.
BEST ONSTAGE VOMITING
Heather Mitchell as Pope Joan in Top Girls.
MOST EXCITING NEW PLAY
Blackie Blackie Brown by Nakkiah Lui, Sydney Theatre Company/Malthouse.
MOST EXCITING NEW PLAY – WITH SONGS
Barbara and the Camp Dogs by Alana Valentine and Ursula Yovich, Belvoir.
BEST FEMINIST REVISIONIST HISTORY – SERVED WITH BOOZE
Mother’s Ruin: A Cabaret about Gin, Sydney Festival, Sydney Opera House.
BEST FAMILY DRAMA
Hir by Taylor Mac, Belvoir.
PLAY THAT MOST THREATENED RIGHT-WING COMMENTATORS AND WAS THEREFORE OBVIOUSLY AWESOME
Kill Climate Deniers, Griffin Theatre Co.
BEST USE OF SYDNEY ICONOGRAPHY ONSTAGE
Hayden Tee’s ‘Eternity’ and ‘Coca-Cola’ Dresses (designed by Emma Vine), Only Heaven Knows, Hayes Theatre Co.
JUST SOME AWARDS FOR INCREDIBLE WOMEN DIRECTORS WHO DESERVE TO BE CELEBRATED AS MUCH AS THEIR MALE COHORT FOR ONCE
Imara Savage, Mr Burns: A Post-Electric Play, Saint Joan
Leticia Caceres, Barbara and the Camp Dogs, Going Down
Anthea Williams, Hir
Lee Lewis, Darlinghurst Nights, Kill Climate Deniers.
Need more theatre in your diet? Check out our hit-list of the best plays, musicals and opera in Sydney this month. Or head to a gallery for one of these killer exhibitions.