Musical Sweet Charity has beaten out Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom at the 2014 Helpmann Awards for live entertainment.
Richard Wagner’s Ring of the Nibelung, presented by Opera Australia, was the biggest winner in the opera categories, winning Best Opera, Best Male Performer for Warwick Fyfe and Best Music Direction for Finnish conductor Pietari Inkinen.
Sweet Charity, which played at Sydney’s Hayes Theatre also won three awards. In a Samson and Delilah turn of events, Sweet Charity beat out the high-profile Strictly Ballroom, which faced poor reviews in its run at the Lyric Theatre. Sweet Charity picked up Best Female Actor in a Musical for Verity Hunt-Ballard, as well as Best Choreography and Best Direction, leaving Strictly Ballroom to win a single award for Best Female Supporting Actor in a Musical for Heather Mitchell’s performance.
Best Musical went to The King and I, another big win for Opera Australia and co-producer John Frost. Frost was also recognized for his lifetime contribution to the industry with the JC Williamson Awards.
In the acting categories, Cate Blanchett was awarded Best Female Actor in a Play for The Maids, currently playing in New York. Best Actor in a Play went to Richard Roxburgh’s Waiting for Godot, whose co-star Luke Mullins was named Best Supporting Male Actor.
The Australian Ballet’s Chroma won Best Dance Work, with Best Male Dancer going to James Vu Anh Pham in 247 Days and Best Female Dancer to Charmene Yap in Interplay’s 2 in D Minor. Best Regional Touring Production went to Jack Charles v the Crown which explored the indefatigable actor’s years of life experience.
The ceremony took place at Sydney’s Capitol Theatre, on the set of previous Helpmann winners The Lion King. Highlights from the show, along with a musical number from the new Australian production of Les Miserables, were performed. Attendees included Geoffrey Rush, Sarah Murdoch, Simon Burke, Ita Buttrose and Danielle McCormack.
In a recent Sydney Morning Herald article, several critics accused the Helpmann Awards of a lack of support for independent theatre and the concentration of nominations given to Sydney and Melbourne shows.
Photographed by Whitney Duan.