The winner of the 2018 Rob Guest Endowment Award was announced last night at the conclusion of the Grand Final Event held at Sydney’s Capitol Theatre. Competing against five other outstanding Semi-Finalists, Annie Aitken (Melba, Muriel’s Wedding) took out the prestigious award after being chosen by an expert panel of judges, which comprised Kellie Dickerson, Jason Langley, Sharon Millerchip and Guy Simpson.
Annie Aitken took home $20,000 prize money, and the runners up – Joel Granger (She Loves Me, Cry-Baby), Todd Jacobsson (The Book of Mormon), Courtney Monsma (Mamma Mia), Ashleigh Rubenach (Cry-Baby, My Fair Lady) and Lyndon Watts (Aladdin, Singin’ In The Rain) – were each awarded $1,500.
Melbourne’s East End Theatre District Artist Development Award, an initiative of Mike Walsh and the Marriner family awarding a $5,000 cash prize to a promising young music theatre talent, went to Ashleigh Rubenach. The Playbill Future Prospect Award went to Stephanie Wall. This award, generously sponsored by Playbill, is a $1,500 cash prize to a semi-finalist who didn’t make the finals but the judges wanted to encourage to return to the competition next year.
The six Finalists spent the day with the judging panel and creative team in musical, dramatic and movement sessions, allowing the judges to get to know the finalists and see how they work, better informing their decision.
Following the Presentation, a social function was held for the finalists and award winners to connect with the industry professionals in attendance, and make direct contact with people who can assist them in developing their career. This fulfils the aim of the Rob Guest Endowment to better connect young performers with industry professionals who can encourage, mentor and advise them.
Two other awards were presented recognising further excellence in other fields of musical theatre. The Rob Guest Endowment Technical Award in Honour of Sue Nattrass was awarded to Brittany Coombs and the Rob Guest Endowment Musician Award was won by Katie Robinson. Funded by the Capitol Theatre and the Sydney Lyric Theatre, both winners took home a $10,000 cash prize intended to help fund the tuition and experience needed to help them become leaders in their field.
The Rob Guest Endowment executive committee, Kellie Dickerson, Stephen Found and Bernadette Hayes, were blown away by the calibre of talent this year. For more information, visit: www.robguestendowment.com.au for details.
Image: Lyndon Watts, Joel Granger, Ashleigh Rubenach, Annie Aitken Todd Jacobsson and Courtney Monsma – photo by Brian Geach