18th Annual Helpmann Awards Nominations announced

Muriel’s Wedding the Musical - Here Comes the Bride - photo by Lisa TomasettiThe countdown to the 18th Annual Helpmann Awards is on following last night’s announcement of the Nominees in the 42 categories of the Helpmann Awards at simultaneous events in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.

The Helpmann Awards are the premier celebration of Australia’s vibrant live performance industry and recognise distinguished achievement and excellence in Australia’s live performance sectors including musical theatre, contemporary music, comedy, opera, classical music, theatre, ballet, dance and physical theatre, presentation for children, regional touring and cabaret.

Musicals continued their dominance across all categories with Sydney Theatre Company leading the charge with 27 nominations overall, thanks in part to Muriel’s Weddings’ eleven nominations, including best new Australian work, best musical, best original score for Kate Miller-Heidke & Keir Nuttall and best director for Simon Phillips (who also received a best director nomination for Dream Lover).

The co-production with Global Creatures also receive best costume design for Gabriela Tylesova, best music direction for Isaac Hayward, best sound design for Michael Waters, and best choreography for Andrew Hallsworth. On the performance side, Maggie McKenna received a nomination for best female actor in a musical, while Christie Whelan Browne and Madeleine Jones, each received a nomination for best female actor in a supporting role in a musical.

Not to be outdone, Dream Lover earned 6 nominations including best musical, best sound design for Michael Waters, best female actor in a musical for Marina Prior, best actor in a musical for David Campbell (who also received a best actor in a musical nomination for Assassins), and best male actor in a supporting role in a musical for Martin Crewes.

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical also earned 6 nominations including best musical, best direction for Marc Bruni, best choreography for Josh Prince, best female actor in a musical for Esther Hannaford, best female actor in a supporting role in a musical for Amy Lehpamer, and best male actor in a supporting role in a musical for Mat Verevis.

MAMMA MIA! The Musical earned nominations for best musical, best male actor in a musical for Ian Stenlake, best female actor in a musical for Natalie O’Donnell, while Assassins earned nominations for Dean Bryant (best direction), and Bobby Fox (best male actor in a supporting role in a musical).

David Harris and Euan Doidge each received a nomination for best female actor in a musical, and Robert Grubb received a best male actor in a supporting role in a musical for Priscilla Queen of the Desert – The Musical, and Jemma Rix received a best female actor in a supporting role in a musical for The Wizard of Oz.

In other nomination highlights, Colin Lane & Frank Woodley (Lano & Woodley – Fly), Anne Edmonds (Helen Bidou – Enter the Spinnaker Lounge), Celia Pacquola (All Talk), Zoë Coombs Marr (Bossy Bottom), Rhys Nicholson (Seminal), Julia Morris (Lift and Separate Golden Jubilee), and Urzila Carlson (Studies Have Shown) are all vying for the Best Comedy Performer Award.

Reuben Kaye (Journey to the Centre of Attention), Queenie van de Zandt (BLUE: The Songs Of Joni Mitchell), Briefs Ensemble (Briefs: Close Encounters) and Taylor Mac (A 24-Decade History of Popular Music) are up for Best Cabaret Performer.

CMC Rocks QLD 2018, WOMADelaide 2018, St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival 2018 and MONA FOMA battle it out for Best Contemporary Music Festival, while Oddysea (Sensorium Theatre and Performing Lines WA), Saltbush (Insite Arts, Compagnia TPO and Performing Lines/Blak Lines), Hello, Goodbye and Happy Birthday (Roslyn Oades and Performing Lines), and OUR land people stories (Bangarra Dance Theatre) are vying for Best Regional Touring Production.

Bangarra also snagged a number of nominations for its production of Bennelong including best dance production best new Australian work, best original score for Steve Francis, best scenic design for Jacob Nash, best lighting design for Nick Schlieper, best choreography for Stephen Page, and best male dancer for Beau Dean Riley Smith.

Victorian Opera and Malthouse Theatre’s production of Black Rider: The Casting of the Magic Bullets earned nominations for best opera, best direction for Matthew Lutton, best music direction for Phoebe Briggs, best female actor in a supporting role in an opera for Meow Meow, best female performer in an opera for Dimity Shepherd, and best male performer in an opera for Kanen Breen.

Also announced last night was the Best Special Event Award, presented to Melbourne International Arts Festival for Taylor Mac: A 24-Decade History of Popular Music. Co-commissioned by the Festival, Taylor Mac’s mission was to chart a complete social history of the United States through the music that scored its rebellions and revolution, triumphs and tragedies.

Across four six-hour marathons of staggering scale, covering one decade per hour, 150 local and international artists worked with Taylor Mac’s team to pull off this queer retelling of history, at a time when the lives of Australia’s LGBTIQ+ community were under the spotlight.

This year, the winners of the 2018 Helpmann Awards will be announced at two events over two nights. This exciting step in the development of the Helpmanns follows the same model and process adopted by many major international awards ceremonies.

Act I, on Sunday 15 July at Sydney Town Hall, will be a sit down event at cocktail hour celebrating the very best creative, designer and supporting roles. It will also include Awards for Best Presentation for Children and the Best Regional Touring Production.

This industry insider event will include sensational performances and be hosted by celebrated broadcaster, director, producer, actor, advisor and artistic director Rhoda Roberts AM and Michael Lynch CBE AO, one of Australia’s most experienced and internationally renowned Arts Administrators.

Act II, on Monday 16 July at the Capitol Theatre, will be staged on the set of Priscilla Queen of the Desert The Musical. This Black Tie event, will present all live performance Award genres along with celebrating the 2017 Centenary JC Williamson and Sue Nattrass Award recipients.

The internationally acclaimed Olivier & Tony Nominee, Helpmann Award winning performer and writer, Tony Sheldon will be one of the evenings revered hosts. Stellar performances will include the cast of Priscilla Queen of the Desert the Musical.

“We are delighted this year to present our 42 Awards over two exciting nights,” said LPA Chief Executive Evelyn Richardson. “Two shorter shows enables us to better highlight the artistry and excellence in our dynamic live performance industry.”

“Over the past 18 years the Helpmann Awards have received nearly 11,000 entries and announced over 2,750 Nominees which highlights the scale of the live performance industry enjoyed by 18.4 million people each year in Australia.”

For more information and full nominations list, visit: www.helpmannawards.com.au for details. Tickets for the 18th annual Helpmann Awards are now on sale via Ticketmaster. The ABC will screen the Awards live on Monday 16 July – the first time the event has been screened live on a free-to-air network.

Image: Muriel’s Wedding the Musical – photo by Lisa Tomasetti