Helpmann awards 2019: Belvoir sweeps stage industry accolades over two nights

Published by The Guardian Australia
16 July

Dark Mofo festival and Hannah Gadsby’s comedy show Douglas among other winners, though not much love for Harry Potter

The 2019 Helpmann awards weren’t entirely about the theatre company that calls Sydney’s Belvoir Street home, but it sure felt like it.

Belvoir took home 13 of the 43 accolades on offer at Australia’s annual live performance awards, held in Melbourne on Sunday and Monday nights. The event typically includes awards for theatre, musicals, opera, dance, circus, touring and more.

The epic production of Shakthidharan’s Counting and Cracking, in collaboration with Co-Curious, was a clear standout. The 16-actor play with a story spanning four generations from Sri Lanka to Australia won a total of seven awards over the two nights including best production, best new Australian work and best direction by Shakthidharan and Belvoir’s artistic director Eamon Flack. Prakash Belawadi won the award for best male actor in a play, while Vaishnavi Suryaprakash won best supporting female actor.

Members of Counting and Cracking’s creative team, Dale Ferguson and Stefan Gregory, received awards for best scenic design and best sound design respectively.

A revitalised production of Barbara and the Camp Dogs, Ursula Yovich and Alana Valentine’s road story rock show, was Belvoir’s other big hitter, awarded best musical and best original score. Yovich’s “boisterous” alter-ego Barbara won her best female actor in a musical, while her co-star Elaine Crombie picked up the companion award for best female actor in a supporting role in a musical.

Kate Mulvany was awarded best female actor in a play for her performance in Belvoir’s Every Brilliant Thing, while Paul Blackwell won best male actor in a supporting role in a play for Faith Healer, a co-production with State Theatre Company South Australia.

Elsewhere, Barrie Kosky and Suzanne Andrade’s short-run Komische Oper Berlin production of The Magic Flute won awards for best opera, best direction and best male performer in a supporting role for Tom Erik Lie.

Hannah Gadsby won best comedy performer for her much-anticipated Nanette follow-up show, Douglas. 

Melbourne’s much-hyped Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Parts One and Two) took home only one award, for Neil Austin’s lighting design.

2018’s Dark Mofo festival, run by Tasmania’s Museum of Old and New Art (Mona), received the discretionary award for best special event – the only category that does not take nominations. Its summer festival, Mona Foma, won best contemporary music festival.