On 27thJuly, bejeweled actresses, sharp comedians and mysterious magicians, among others, braved the bitter winter chill to waltz the red carpet of the 2015 Helpmann Awards. For some, it was an exciting first and others a veteran walk, yet regardless of their experience with the Awards night, it was all agreed upon that this night was a prestigious honour and a significant night for the Australian live performing Arts Industry.
The Helpmann Awards is an annual award presented in honour of Sir Robert Helpmann to commemorate his memory and achievements. It recognises distinguished artistic achievement and excellence in the many disciplines of Australia’s live performance sectors. Nominees came from categories such as physical theatre, dance, theatre, classical music, opera, cabaret, comedy, contemporary music and musical theatre. This year, the red carpet was graced by the best of Australian performance art with celebrities such as Cosentino, Rhonda Burchmore, David Campbell, Kate Miller Heidke, Cate Blanchett and awards host Todd McKenney.
Les Miserables cast, photographer Anthony Smallwood
Les Miserables, which has performed over 400 shows this season alone, won five awards including Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role. Kerrie Anne Greenland’s performance of Eponine in Les Miserables is one that had much of her audience in tears. When asked about what advice she would give to up and coming amateur musical actors, she said, “keep doing it if it makes you happy. That’s the thing that’s always driven me- it’s something that makes me really, really happy, so I’ve been doing it for over 20 years now and this is my first professional show.”
It seemed that all the celebrities on the red carpet shared the same passion for the Arts in whatever field they were in. The Australian performing arts industry has such a wealth of talent that is both supported and celebrated by vibrant hubs in every state, local communities and authorities. No matter how excellent the ballet is, it’s hardly supported if it isn’t embraced by the venue and local community and so to recognise these aspects, there are awards in Best Touring Regional Production (Festival of Circa) and Destination NSW and the Sydney Opera House won Best Contemporary Music Festival.
Nominee Matt Okine commented on the local scene for comedians, “The Sydney scene for comedians has been incredible for me… it’s a great place to get paid. People say that some of the other cities are more supportive of the ‘scene’ I guess, but you can make a living in Sydney as a comic, and not just a comic that’s on TV, but also as a comic that no-one knows about, who works hard and does clubs. I think Sydney’s got a great arts scene. It gets a battering a lot, but it’s there and it’s supportive.”
For young and old Australians alike, it’s important to celebrate homegrown talents, to give hope to future generations who are interested in becoming a part of the performing arts community, as well as making Australia a destination for creative talent. Sydney came into the spotlight with the Helpmann Awards being hosted at The Capitol and having many of the winning acts from Sydney venues. For instance The Glass Menagerie performed at the Belvoir took Best Female Actor in a Play (Pamela Rabe) as well as Best Play, while the Sydney Theatre Company won Best Direction of a Play (Kip Williams, Suddenly Last Summer), Best Female Actor In A Supporting Role In A Play (Helen Thomson, After Dinner) and Best Make Actor in a Play (Hugo Weaving, Endgame).
“We’ve got such amazing talent,” said Margaret Pomeranz. “Hollywood picks over everything that gets its head above the surface and we just keep on producing more. It’s hard combatting the huge American publicity machine and I think it’s a major challenge letting Australians know that these films are out there-then they have a chance to see them. I think that people want to support our industry. Awards nights like this really help.”
For a list of full list of winners visit: http://www.helpmannawards.com.au/2015/nominees-and-winners