Nominations for the Sydney Theatre Awards have been announced, with new Australian musical Muriel’s Wedding breaking the record for most nominations. The musical based on the iconic Australian film has picked up nominations in 12 categories, including Best Original Score of a Mainstage Production, Best New Australian Work and Best Production of a Mainstream Musical.

Sydney Theatre Awards, Muriel's Wedding the Musical, Sydney Theatre CompanyHilary Cole, Helen Dallimore and Maggie McKenna in Muriel’s Wedding the Musical. Photo ©  Lisa Tomasetti

Maggie McKenna, making her professional theatre debut as Muriel, has picked up a nomination for Best Newcomer as well as the Judith Johnson Award for Best Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical (up against Annie Aitken in Melba, Virginia Gay in Calamity Jane and Esther Hannaford in Beautiful). Simon Phillips is up for Best Direction of a Musical (alongside Dean Bryant for Assassins, Richard Carroll for Calamity Jane and Shaun Rennie for Only Heaven Knows) while three out of four nominations in Best Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical are for Muriels Wedding.

Sydney Theatre Company’s Cloud Nine and Only Heaven Knows from Luckiest Productions and Hayes Theatre Co have also come in strong with nine nominations a piece. Calamity Jane – which was produced by One Eyed Man Productions in association with Neglected Musicals and Hayes Theatre Co – has eight nominations. The production will tour nationally in 2018. Siren Theatre Co and Seymour Centre’s The Trouble with Harry and Hayes Theatre Co’s Assassins each received seven nominations. In fact, it’s been a particularly strong year for independent musical theatre, with Calamity Jane, Assassins and Only Heaven Knows in particular taking out a swathe of nominations. Australian musicals have also done well, with Best Production of a Mainstream Musical seeing Ladies in Black and Muriels Wedding up against Beautiful and Kinky Boots.

“For me, this year was about the rise of the independent theatre scene,” said Sydney Theatre Awards panelist Elissa Blake. “The difference in quality and ambition between the funded and unfunded theatre companies in Sydney has shrunk to the point where it is becoming minimal. Our best artists and our emerging artists are now working in both spaces, smashing the gender roles, telling all kinds of new Australian stories, cracking open audiences’ hearts and minds.”

Fellow panelist and Limelight Editor agreed. “Occasionally we expand the number of nominations in a category from four to five because the quality is so high and the voting so close that it seems wrong not to recognise five nominees. This year that has happened in three categories: Best Male Actor and Best Female Actor in a Leading Role in a Mainstage Production, and Best Newcomer,” she said. “It is encouraging to note the number of women coming to the fore following a push to raise awareness of the lack of gender equity in Australian theatre. This year, three of the four nominations for both Best Direction of a Mainstage Production and Best Direction of an Independent Production have gone to women. Clearly there is more to be achieved in terms of gender parity, and a lot more to de done in terms of ethnic diversity in our theatre, though improvements are slowly being made.”

The expanded categories see Genevieve Lemon (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf), Heather Mitchell (Could Nine), Kate Mulvany (Richard III), Helen Thomson (Hir) and Ursula Yovich (Barbara and the Camp Dogs) vying for Best Female Actor in a Leading Role in a Mainstage Production, while John Bell (The Father), Mitchell Butel (The Merchant of Venice), Darren Gilshenan (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf), Pecharo Mzembe (Prize Fighter) and Steve Rodgers (Diving for Pearls) are up for Best Male Actor in a Leading Role in a Mainstage Production. The other category to include five nominations is Best Newcomer, which sees Michelle Ny, Kurt Pimblett, Zoe Terakes and Ebony Vagulans up against Maggie McKenna.

Sydney Theatre AwardsJosh McConville as Clive. Photograph © Daniel Boud

The Best Mainstage Production category has Sydney Theatre Company’s Cloud Nine up against Belvoir’s Hir and Mr Burns as well as Patricia Cornelius’ Shit, which played at the Sydney Festival, while Best Independent Production sees The Trouble with Harry vying with Red Line Productions’ A View from the Bridge, Siren Theatre Company’s The Ham Funeral and Outhouse Theatre Co and Mad March Hare’s Dry Land.

Nominations for Best Direction of a Mainstage Production include Anne-Louise Sarks for Bell Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, Imara Savage for Belvoir’s Mr Burns, Anthea Williams for Hir (also at Belvoir) and Sydney Theatre Company Artistic Director Kip Williams for Cloud Nine.

Sydney Theatre Awards, Black is the New WhiteSydney Theatre Company’s Black is the New White. Photo © Prudence Upton

Best New Australian Work pits Ursula Yovich and Alana Valentine’s Barbara and the Camp Dogs against Nakkiah Lui’s Black is the New White, Patricia Cornelius’ Shit and PJ Hogan, Kate Miller-Heidke and Keir Nuttall’s Muriel’s Wedding.

Composer and sound designer Nate Edmondson has locked up three out of four nominations in Best Sound Design of an Independent Production for The Ham Funeral, Jatinga and The Trouble With Harry, with Benjamin Freeman getting a nod for 4:48 Psychosis. Edmondson, who won Best Score or Sound Design of an Independent Production in last year’s awards, is also nominated in the Best Sound Design of a Mainstage Production category this year for his work on Cloud Nine.

This year Best Original Score of a Mainstage Production has its own category, with nominations for Kate Miller-Heidke and Keir Nuttall’s score for Muriels Wedding, Chris Williams score for Cloud Nine, The Sweats’ score for Chimerica and Alana Valentaine, Ursula Yovich and Adm Ventura’s Barbara and the Camp Dogs.

Sydney Theatre AwardsElaine Crombie and Ursula Yovich. Photo © Brett Boardman

The Sydney Theatre Awards, which celebrate the strength, quality and diversity of theatre in Sydney, are presented by a group of leading theatre critics consisting of Elissa Blake (Audrey Journal, formerly Fairfax), Jason Blake (Audrey Journal, formerly Sydney Morning Herald), Dee Jefferson (ABC, formerly Time Out), Deborah Jones (The Australian), John McCallum (The Australian), Ben Neutze (Time Out, formerly Daily Review), Diana Simmonds (Stagenoise), Cassie Tongue (Time Out, The Guardian), Suzy Wrong (Suzy Goes See) and Limelight’s Editor Jo Litson.

The Sydney Theatre Awards will be presented on Monday January 22 at 6pm at the Seymour Centre 


NOMINATIONS FOR 2017 SYDNEY THEATRE AWARDS

BEST MAINSTAGE PRODUCTION

Cloud Nine (Sydney Theatre Company)

Hir (Belvoir)

Mr Burns (Belvoir)

Shit (Sydney Festival)

BEST INDEPENDENT PRODUCTION

Dry Land (Outhouse Theatre Co and Mad March Hare)

The Ham Funeral (Siren Theatre Company)

The Trouble With Harry (Siren Theatre Co in association with Seymour Centre)

A View From the Bridge (Red Line Productions)

BEST DIRECTION OF A MAINSTAGE PRODUCTION

Anne-Louise Sarks (The Merchant of Venice)

Imara Savage (Mr Burns)

Anthea Williams (Hir)

Kip Williams (Cloud Nine)

BEST DIRECTION OF AN INDEPENDENT PRODUCTION

Claudia Barrie (Dry Land)

Kate Gaul (The Ham Funeral)

Kate Gaul (The Trouble With Harry)

Iain Sinclair (A View From the Bridge)

BEST FEMALE ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE IN A MAINSTAGE PRODUCTION

Genevieve Lemon (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf)

Heather Mitchell (Cloud Nine)

Kate Mulvany (Richard III)

Helen Thomson (Hir)

Ursula Yovich (Barbara and the Camp Dogs)

BEST MALE ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE IN A MAINSTAGE PRODUCTION

John Bell (The Father)

Mitchell Butel (The Merchant of Venice)

Darren Gilshenan (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf)

Pacharo Mzembe (Prize Fighter)

Steve Rodgers (Diving for Pearls)

BEST FEMALE ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE IN AN INDEPENDENT PRODUCTION

Belinda Giblin (Doubt)

Jodie Le Vesconte (The Trouble With Harry)

Sarah Meacham (Dry Land)

Gabrielle Scawthorn (The Village Bike)

BEST MALE ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE IN AN INDEPENDENT PRODUCTION

Tommy Bradson (Nosferatutu)

Ivan Donato (A View From the Bridge)

Tobias Manderson-Galvin (Puntila/Matti)

John O’Hare (The Night Alive)

BEST FEMALE ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A MAINSTAGE PRODUCTION

Kate Box (Cloud Nine)

Elaine Crombie (Barbara and the Camp Dogs)

Anita Hegh (The Father)

Claire Lovering (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf)

BEST MALE ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A MAINSTAGE PRODUCTION

Harry Greenwood (Cloud Nine)

Brandon McClelland (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf)

Josh McConville (Cloud Nine)

Michael Whalley (Hir)

BEST FEMALE ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN AN INDEPENDENT PRODUCTION

Antoinette Barboutis (Puntila/Matti)

Charmaine Bingwa (Doubt)

Zoe Terakes (A View From the Bridge)

Janine Watson (A View From the Bridge)

BEST MALE ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN AN INDEPENDENT PRODUCTION

Justin Stewart Cotta (This Much Is True)

Andrew Lindqvist (Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo)

Lex Marinos (Sunset Strip)

Johnny Nasser (The Ham Funeral)

BEST STAGE DESIGN OF A MAINSTAGE PRODUCTION

Dale Ferguson (Away)

Michael Hankin (Hir)

Marg Horwell (Shit)

Jonathan Oxlade (Mr Burns)

BEST STAGE DESIGN OF AN INDEPENDENT PRODUCTION

Alicia Clements (Assassins)

Isabel Hudson (Dry Land)

Alice Morgan (The Trouble With Harry)

Lauren Peters (Calamity Jane)

BEST COSTUME DESIGN OF A MAINSTAGE PRODUCTION

Elizabeth Gadsby (Cloud Nine)

Michael Hankin (Hir)

Jonathon Oxlade (Mr Burns)

Gabriela Tylesova (Muriel’s Wedding)

BEST COSTUME DESIGN OF AN INDEPENDENT PRODUCTION

Alicia Clements (Assassins)

Alice Morgan (The Trouble With Harry)

Lauren Peters (Calamity Jane)

Emma Vine (Only Heaven Knows)

BEST LIGHTING DESIGN OF A MAINSTAGE PRODUCTION

Paul Jackson (Away)

Chris Petridis (Mr Burns)

Nick Schlieper (Chimerica)

Emma Valente (The Testament of Mary)

BEST LIGHTING DESIGN OF AN INDEPENDENT PRODUCTION

Alexander Berlage (Doubt)

Alexander Berlage (4:48 Psychosis)

Matt Cox (The Trouble With Harry)

Hartley TA Kemp (The Ham Funeral)

BEST SOUND DESIGN OF A MAINSTAGE PRODUCTION

Nate Edmondson (Cloud Nine)

David Franzke (Away)

Max Lyandvert (The Testament of Mary)

The Sweats (Chimerica)

BEST SOUND DESIGN OF AN INDEPENDENT PRODUCTION

Nate Edmondson (The Ham Funeral)

Nate Edmondson (Jatinga)

Nate Edmondson (The Trouble With Harry)

Benjamin Freeman (4:48 Psychosis)

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE OF A MAINSTAGE PRODUCTION

Chris Williams (Cloud Nine)

The Sweats (Chimerica)

Alana Valentine, Ursula Yovich and Adm Ventura (Barbara and the Camp Dogs)

Kate Miller-Heidke and Keir Nuttall (Muriel’s Wedding)

BEST NEW AUSTRALIAN WORK

Barbara and the Camp Dogs (Ursula Yovich and Alana Valentine)

Black is the New White (Nakkiah Lui)

Muriel’s Wedding (PJ Hogan, Kate Miller-Heidke and Keir Nuttall)

Shit (Patricia Cornelius)

BEST NEWCOMER

Maggie McKenna (Muriel’s Wedding)

Michelle Ny (Dry Land)

Kurt Pimblett (Hir)

Zoe Terakes (A View From the Bridge)

Ebony Vagulans (Diving for Pearls)

BEST PRODUCTION OF A MAINSTREAM MUSICAL

Beautiful (Michael Cassel, Paul Blake, Sony/ATV Music Publishing and Mike Bosner)

Kinky Boots (Michael Cassel by arrangement with Daryl Roth and Hal Luftig)

Ladies in Black (Queensland Theatre, Sydney Festival and Sydney Lyric)

Muriel’s Wedding (Sydney Theatre Company and Global Creatures)

BEST PRODUCTION OF AN INDEPENDENT MUSICAL

Assassins (Hayes Theatre Co)

Calamity Jane (One Eyed Man Productions in association with Neglected Musicals and Hayes Theatre Co)

Only Heaven Knows (Luckiest Productions in association with Hayes Theatre Co)

BEST DIRECTION OF A MUSICAL

Dean Bryant (Assassins)

Richard Carroll (Calamity Jane)

Simon Phillips (Muriel’s Wedding)

Shaun Rennie (Only Heaven Knows)

JUDITH JOHNSON AWARD FOR BEST PERFORMANCE BY A FEMALE ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE IN A MUSICAL

Annie Aitken (Melba)

Virginia Gay (Calamity Jane)

Esther Hannaford (Beautiful)

Maggie McKenna (Muriel’s Wedding)

JUDITH JOHNSON AWARD FOR BEST PERFORMANCE BY A MALE ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE IN A MUSICAL

David Campbell (Assassins)

Tim Draxl (Only Heaven Knows)

Toby Francis (Kinky Boots)

Ben Hall (Only Heaven Knows)

BEST PERFORMANCE BY A FEMALE ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A MUSICAL

Blazey Best (Only Heaven Knows)

Justine Clarke (Muriel’s Wedding)

Madeleine Jones (Muriel’s Wedding)

Christie Whelan Browne (Muriel’s Wedding)

BEST PERFORMANCE BY A MALE ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A MUSICAL

Matthew Backer (Only Heaven Knows)

Rob Johnson (Calamity Jane)

Joe Kosky (High Fidelity)

Hayden Tee (Only Heaven Knows)

BEST CHOREOGRAPHY IN A MUSICAL

Andrew Hallsworth (Assassins)

Andrew Hallsworth (Muriel’s Wedding)

Cameron Mitchell (Big Fish)

Cameron Mitchell (Calamity Jane)

BEST MUSICAL DIRECTION OF A MUSICAL

Daniel Edmonds (Only Heaven Knows)

Isaac Hayward (Muriel’s Wedding)

Nigel Ubrihien (Calamity Jane)

Andrew Worboys (Assassins)

BEST CABARET PRODUCTION

Betty Grumble’s Love and Anger

Blue, the Songs of Joni Mitchell

Hot Brown Honey

Mother’s Ruin: A Cabaret About Gin

BEST PRODUCTION FOR CHILDREN

Diary of a Wombat (Monkey Baa)

Junk (Flying Fruit Fly Circus)

Kaleidoscope (Company 2 and Sydney Festival)

You and Me and the Space Between (Terrapin Puppet Theatre and Sydney Festival)

BEST PRODUCTION FOR YOUNG PEOPLE

Dignity of Risk (atyp/Shopfront Arts)

Moth (atyp)

Oedipus Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (atyp)

When The Streets Had a Name (Monkey Baa)

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

To be announced at the Awards ceremony


Limelight, Australia's Classical Music and Arts Magazine