This year, for the very first time, 43 Helpmann Awards are being presented across two nights and two events at Arts Centre Melbourne. On Sunday 14 July, the first 20 Helpmann Awards were presented at the 2019 Helpmann Awards Act I – an intimate, industry-only cocktail hour event.
Hosted by the legendary performer, writer, artistic director and national treasure, Robyn Archer AO, the evening’s presenters included industry favourites Annie Aitken, Casey Bennetto, Tony Briggs, Uncle Jack Charles, Ako Kondo, Matt Lee, Ali McGregor, Natalie O’Donnell, Gareth Reeves, Graeme Russell, Claire Spencer, Anne Wood and the legendary punk rock duo from Die Roten Punkte, Otto and Astrid Rot.
The evening’s performances included The Jack Earle Jazz Trio, the dazzling Rhonda Burchmore OAM, the silky soulful voice of Marcus Corowa, Australia’s most prolific Torres Strait Islander entertainer Christine Anu and the musical theatre leading men Matt Lee and Rob Mills of Swing on This.
“We are delighted this year to present the 19th Annual Helpmann Awards in Melbourne for the very first time,” said LPA Chief Executive, Evelyn Richardson said Over the past 19 years the Helpmann Awards have received nearly 12,000 entries and announced over 2,900 Nominees, which highlights the breadth and depth of the live performance industry enjoyed by 18.4 million people each year in Australia.”
The 2019 Helpmann Awards Act I winners include:
Best Costume Design:
Gabriela Tylesova – Twelfth Night – Melbourne Theatre Company
Best Lighting Design:
Neil Austin – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Parts One and Two) – Sonia Friedman Productions, Colin Callender and Harry Potter Theatrical Productions, and Australian Executive Producer, Michael Cassel
Best Music Direction:
Erin Helyard – Artaserse – Pinchgut Opera
Best Original Score:
Ursula Yovich, Alana Valentine and Adm Ventoura – Barbara and the Camp Dogs – Belvoir in association with Vicki Gordon Music Productions Pty Ltd
Best Scenic Design:
Dale Ferguson – Counting & Cracking – Belvoir & Co-Curious
Best Sound Design:
Stefan Gregory – Counting & Cracking – Belvoir & Co-Curious
Best Choreography in a Musical:
Malik Le Nost & Mitchell Woodcock – Saturday Night Fever – John Frost in Association with Robert Stigwood
Best Choreography in a Ballet, Dance or Physical Theatre Production:
Antony Hamilton – Forever & Ever – Sydney Dance Company
Best Direction of a Musical:
Francesca Zambello – Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour: West Side Story – Opera Australia
Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical:
Elaine Crombie – Barbara and the Camp Dogs – Belvoir in association with Vicki Gordon Music Productions Pty Ltd
Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical:
Tony Sheldon – Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory The New Musical – John Frost, Craig Donnell, Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures, Langley Park Productions and Neal Street Productions
Best Female Performer in a Supporting Role in an Opera:
Taryn Fiebig – Metamorphosis – Opera Australia
Best Male Performer in a Supporting Role in an Opera:
Tom Erik Lie – Komische Oper Berlin’s The Magic Flute – Adelaide Festival and Perth Festival by arrangement with Arts Projects Australia
Best Direction of a Play:
Eamon Flack and S. Shakthidharan – Counting & Cracking – Belvoir & Co-Curious
Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role in a Play:
Vaishnavi Suryaprakash – Counting & Cracking – Belvoir & Co-Curious
Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role in a Play:
Paul Blackwell – Faith Healer – A Belvoir Production presented by State Theatre Company South Australia
Best Presentation for Children and Young People:
Robot Song – Arena Theatre Company
Best Regional Touring Production:
Bennelong – Bangarra Dance Theatre
Best Special Event:
Dark Mofo 2018 – Museum of Old and New Art (Mona)
In addition, the 2019 Sue Nattrass Award for outstanding service to the live performance industry was presented to Liz Jones AO – long serving Artistic Director of Melbourne’s La Mama Theatre.
The Helpmann Awards are the premier celebration of Australia’s vibrant live performance industry and recognize 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.
The remaining 23 Awards will be presented at The Helpmann Awards Act II on Monday 15 July at the State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne. The Helpmann Awards Act II will be broadcast live on ABC Comedy on Monday 15 July at 8.00pm. Highlights from Act I will also be included in the broadcast.
For further information and a full list of nominees, visit: www.helpmannawards.com.au for details.
Image: Bangarra Dance Theatre’s Bennelong – photo by Daniel Boud