Belvoir and Co-Curious’ epic production of Counting and Cracking, which played as part of last year’s Sydney Festival and told the story of four generations of a Sri Lankan family, was awarded Best Mainstage Production at tonight’s 2019 Sydney Theatre Awards. Staged at Sydney Town Hall and performed to sold out audiences, it was also awarded Best New Australian Work for S. Shakthidharan and Best Original Score of a Mainstage Production for Stefan Gregory. These honours follow its considerable seven Helpmann Awards in July of last year.

Vaishnavi Suryaprakash and Sukania Venugopal in Counting and Cracking. Photograph © Brett Boardman

Best Independent Production was awarded to Outhouse Theatre Co and Seymour Centre’s John, a 2015 play by Annie Baker set in a bed and breakfast. Directed by Craig Baldwin, Limelight described it as a “precise, perfectly paced production” that draws the audience into “the strange, fascinating world on stage.”

Sydney Theatre Company’s season closer The Beauty Queen of Leenane picked up four awards in total – Best Direction of a Mainstage Production for Paige Rattray, Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role for Hamish Michael, Best Stage Design of a Mainstage Production for Renée Mulder, and Best Lighting Design of a Mainstage Production for Paul Jackson. White Pearl, a co-production between STC and Riverside’s National Theatre of Parramatta, meanwhile received Best Ensemble for its cast of seven: Deborah An, Mayu Iwasaki, Matthew Pearce, Vaishnavi Suryaprakash, Merlynn Tong, Catherine Văn-Davies and Shirong Wu.

Yael Stone and Noni Hazlehurst in The Beauty Queen of Leenane. Photograph © Brett Boardman

Best Direction of an Independent Production went to Dino Dimitriadis for Apocalypse Theatre Company and Red Line Productions’ Angels in America, which also received awards for Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role and Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role for Catherine Văn Davies and Joseph Althouse respectively.

Taking home nine awards, the evening’s big winner was musical American Psycho. Presented by BB Arts Entertainment and Two Doors Productions in association with Hayes Theatre Co, it received Best Production of an Independent Musical, Best Direction of a Musical for Alexander Berlage, the Judith Johnson Award for Best Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical for Ben Gerrard, and Best Musical Direction for Andrew Worboys. It also received Best Choreography in a Musical for Yvette Lee, Best Stage Design of an Independent Production for Isabel Hudson, Best Costume Design of an Independent Production for Mason Browne, Best Lighting Design of an Independent Production for Paul Jackson, and Best Sound Design of an Independent Production for Nicholas Walker.

Ben Gerrard. Photograph © Clare Hawley

Performing gongs also went to Elenoa Rokobaro, who won the Judith Johnson Award for Best Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical for Caroline, or Change. Sheridan Harbridge and Meyne Wyatt were named Best Female Actor and Best Male Actor in a Leading Role in a Mainstage Production for Griffin Theatre Company’s Prima Facie and Griffin and Queensland Theatre’s City of Gold respectively, with City of Gold’s Shari Sebbens was also named Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role. Chika Ikogwe was meanwhile named Best Newcomer in recognition of her work in The Wolves and Fangirls, both of which played at Belvoir St.

In the independent sector, Janine Watson took home Best Female Actor in a Leading Role for Little Ones Theatre’s The Happy Prince, while Justin Amankwah was named Best Male Actor in a Leading Role for Green Door Theatre’s Good Dog.

For her turn in Muriel’s Wedding, Stefanie Jones was awarded Best Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical, with Thomas Campbell receiving Best Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical for HMS Pinafore.

Best Cabaret Production went to Nancye Hayes for Hayes @ The Hayes.

Maggie Blinco

The Sydney Theatre Award for Lifetime Achievement was presented to actor Maggie Blinco. Her nearly five-decade career has seen her work with Nimrod Theatre Company, Playbox, ATYP, Griffin Theatre Company, Sydney Theatre Company, Melbourne Theatre Company and many independent companies, as well as appear in television series and feature films. In 2019, Blinco performed in Apocalypse Theatre Co and Green Door Theatre’s Omar and Dawn as well as Outhouse Theatre Co and Seymour Centre’s John for which she won a nomination at this year’s awards.


FULL LIST OF WINNERS

BEST MAINSTAGE PRODUCTION
Counting and Cracking (Belvoir and Co-Curious)

BEST INDEPENDENT PRODUCTION
John (Outhouse Theatre Co and Seymour Centre)

BEST DIRECTION OF A MAINSTAGE PRODUCTION
Paige Rattray (The Beauty Queen of Leenane)

BEST DIRECTION OF AN INDEPENDENT PRODUCTION
Dino Dimitriadis (Angels in America)

BEST FEMALE ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE IN A MAINSTAGE PRODUCTION
Sheridan Harbridge (Prima Facie)

BEST MALE ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE IN A MAINSTAGE PRODUCTION
Meyne Wyatt (City of Gold)

BEST FEMALE ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE IN AN INDEPENDENT PRODUCTION
Janine Watson (The Happy Prince)

BEST MALE ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE IN AN INDEPENDENT PRODUCTION
Justin Amankwah (Good Dog)

BEST FEMALE ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A MAINSTAGE PRODUCTION
Shari Sebbens (City of Gold)

BEST MALE ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A MAINSTAGE PRODUCTION
Hamish Michael (The Beauty Queen of Leenane)

BEST FEMALE ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN AN INDEPENDENT PRODUCTION
Catherine Văn-Davies (Angels in America)

BEST MALE ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN AN INDEPENDENT PRODUCTION
Joseph Althouse (Angels in America)

BEST STAGE DESIGN OF A MAINSTAGE PRODUCTION
Renée Mulder (The Beauty Queen of Leenane)

BEST STAGE DESIGN OF AN INDEPENDENT PRODUCTION
Isabel Hudson (American Psycho)

BEST COSTUME DESIGN OF A MAINSTAGE PRODUCTION
Mel Page (Mary Stuart)

BEST COSTUME DESIGN OF AN INDEPENDENT PRODUCTION
Mason Browne (American Psycho)

BEST LIGHTING DESIGN OF A MAINSTAGE PRODUCTION
Paul Jackson (The Beauty Queen of Leenane)

BEST LIGHTING DESIGN OF AN INDEPENDENT PRODUCTION
Alexander Berlage (American Psycho)

BEST SOUND DESIGN OF A MAINSTAGE PRODUCTION
Max Lyandvert (Titus Andronicus)

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE OF A MAINSTAGE PRODUCTION
Stefan Gregory (Counting and Cracking)

BEST SOUND DESIGN OF AN INDEPENDENT PRODUCTION
Nicholas Walker (American Psycho)

BEST NEW AUSTRALIAN WORK
Counting and Cracking (S. Shakthidharan)

BEST NEWCOMER
Chika Ikogwe (The Wolves/Fangirls)

BEST ENSEMBLE
White Pearl (Riverside’s National Theatre of Parramatta and Sydney Theatre Company)

BEST PRODUCTION OF A MAINSTAGE MUSICAL
Fangirls (Belvoir, Queensland Theatre and Brisbane Festival in association with ATYP)

BEST PRODUCTION OF AN INDEPENDENT MUSICAL
American Psycho (BB Arts Entertainment and Two Doors Productions in association with Hayes Theatre Co)

BEST DIRECTION OF A MUSICAL
Alexander Berlage (American Psycho)

JUDITH JOHNSON AWARD FOR BEST PERFORMANCE BY A FEMALE ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE IN A MUSICAL
Elenoa Rokobaro (Caroline, or Change)

JUDITH JOHNSON AWARD FOR BEST PERFORMANCE BY A MALE ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE IN A MUSICAL
Ben Gerrard (American Psycho)

BEST PERFORMANCE BY A FEMALE ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A MUSICAL
Stefanie Jones (Muriel’s Wedding)

BEST PERFORMANCE BY A MALE ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A MUSICAL
Thomas Campbell (HMS Pinafore)

BEST MUSICAL DIRECTION
Andrew Worboys (American Psycho)

BEST CHOREOGRAPHY IN A MUSICAL
Yvette Lee (American Psycho)

BEST CABARET PRODUCTION
Hayes at the Hayes (Nancye Hayes)

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Maggie Blinco