19th Annual Helpmann Award Nominations Announced

OA West Side Story - photo by Keith SaundersThe countdown to the 19th Annual Helpmann Awards is on, following last night’s announcement of the 2019 Helpmann Award Nominees.

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

“It has been a remarkable year for live performance in Australia and this year’s Nominees reflect the breadth and vibrancy of the sector. I congratulate all the 2019 Helpmann Awards Nominees and wish them the best of luck,” said Victoria’s Minister for Creative Industries, Martin Foley.

Live Performance Australia (LPA) last night (Tuesday 11 June) announced the Nominees in the 42 categories of the Helpmann Awards at simultaneous events in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.

Opera Australia leads the pack with 23 nominations across the musicals, industry and opera categories – including Best Female Actor in a Musical to Tina Arena (EVITA); and Best Musical for Handa Opera on the Harbour: West Side Story – which received seven nominations including Best Direction of a Musical to Francesca Zambello.

Not to be outdone, Sydney Theatre Company received 18 nominations including eight for the Harp in the South: Part One and Part Two; and four each for The Long Forgotten Dream and Blackie Blackie Brown: The Traditional Owner of Death – a co-production with the Malthouse Theatre.

Currently playing at Melbourne’s Princess Theatre, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and Belvoir’s Sydney Festival production, Counting & Cracking, each received eight nominations including Best Production of a Play.

Also announced on the night was the Best Special Event, which will be presented to MONA for Dark Mofo 2018. This especially bestowed award recognizes outstanding live performance production or presentations that has a unique or exceptional character.

Hobart’s Dark Mofo is a midwinter festival that celebrates art, music and culture by exploring the links between ancient and contemporary mythology, humans and nature, religious and secular traditions, darkness and light and birth, death and renewal. Established in 2013, Dark Mofo has quickly developed iconic status and is a popular and challenging multi-arts festival like no other in Australia.

“We are delighted to be presenting the 42 Helpmann Awards over two nights for the very first time in Melbourne, said LPA Chief Executive Evelyn Richardson. “Over the past eighteen years the Helpmann Awards have had 12,000 entries and announced over 2,900 Nominees which highlight the artistry and excellence in Australia’s dynamic live performance industry which is enjoyed by over 18 million people each year.”

The 19th Annual Helpmann Awards will be presented in Melbourne for the very first time on Sunday 14 and Monday 15 July at the Victorian home of the performing arts, Arts Centre Melbourne.

2019 Helpmann Awards Act I – Sunday 14 July – Arts Centre Melbourne
Act I will see the gravitas of Australia’s most prestigious live theatre and entertainment awards meet the atmosphere of a sophisticated jazz lounge, for an up close, upbeat, exclusive industry-only night to remember. Hosted by the legendary performer, writer, artistic director and national treasure Robyn Archer AO, this special evening will recognise artistic excellence and achievements on stage as well as the creative and technical genies behind the scenes. The 2019 Sue Nattrass Award for exceptional service to the live performance industry will be presented to long standing Artistic Director of La Mama Theatre, Liz Jones AO. The evening’s performances will include The Jack Earle Jazz Trio, the dazzling Rhonda Burchmore OAM and the musical theatre stars of Swing on This.

2019 Helpmann Awards Act II – Monday 15 July – Arts Centre Melbourne
Act II is a black-tie gala event, saluting artistic excellence and achievement on Australian stages over the past year including musicals, contemporary music, comedy, opera, classical music, theatre, ballet, dance, physical theatre and cabaret. Hosted by the fabulous dynamic duo of comedian, writer and actor Susie Youssef and actor, singer, writer and director Mitchell Butel. This year’s special guest presenters include Kate Miller-Heidke, Keir Nuttall, Paul Kelly AO, Greta Bradman and James Egglestone. The 2019 JC Williamson Award for outstanding contribution to, and for changing our industry for the better will be presented to the legendary singer songwriter Kev Carmody.

Acclaimed performances will include Victorian Opera with their new work Lorelei featuring Ali McGregor, Dimity Shepherd and Danielle Calder; The Australian Ballet with a new piece from Aurum by choreographer Alice Topp; Bangarra dancers Beau Dean Riley Smith, Rikki Mason, Tyrel Dulvarie, Ryan Pearson, Baden Hitchcock and Bradley Smith in an excerpt from the Helpmann Award winning production Bennelong; a special performance from mesmerizing electronic soul pop duo Electric Fields; much loved musical theatre performer Silvie Paladino; and bringing the show home will be Brent Hill and the extraordinary kids from the hit musical School of Rock. Once again, The Helpmann Awards Orchestra will be led by musical director Vanessa Scammell.

For more information, including Award Nominees, visit: www.helpmannawards.com.au for details.

Image: Opera Australia’s Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour: West Side Story – photo by Keith Saunders