Oh dear, the Helpmann Awards have come round again. The winners were announced in Sydney’s Capitol Theatre, a most appropriate setting. The Live Performance industry body is to be commended for running them, but some would beg to differ.
Christopher Hitchens said awards exist “to reward sponsors, to pacify egos, to generate sales, and to puff reputations”. I spent decades selling tickets to culturally enriching events, so “generating sales” seems worthwhile to me, and “rewarding sponsors” is harmless. But there must have been some unpacified egos after this year’s awards. Nothing against The King and I, but compared with the courage and commitment needed to mount a new, wonderful version of Strictly Ballroom, wheeling out a stately existing production of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic doesn’t seem entirely award worthy to me.
Complaining about the judges’ decisions is half the fun, yet no one would begrudge best actress in a play going to Cate Blanchett in The Maids, or best supporting actress to Robyn Nevin in Angels in America, or best actor to Richard Roxburgh in Waiting for Godot. One makes these assertions without even seeing the competing performances, which may be unfair, but illustrates how fortunate we are to have our own stage actors of this calibre.
The irresistible Heather Mitchell won best supporting actress in a musical in Strictly Ballroom, that production’s only win from 6 nominations. Oh well!
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