Celebrating Australia’s live performance industry, the nominations for the 19th annual Helpmann Awards have been announced. With eight nominations each, two large-scale theatrical productions – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and Counting and Cracking – have received the lion’s share of nods this year.

Harry Potter and the Cursed ChildGyton Grantley, Paula Arundell, Gareth Reeves and Lucy Goleby in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Photo © Matt Murphy

Currently playing in Melbourne and now booking through 2020, the international smash-hit Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Sonia Friedman Productions, Colin Callender, Harry Potter Theatrical Productions and Michael Cassel Group) has been nominated for Best Production of a Play. Taking place 19 years after J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the play is written by Jack Thorne and based on an original tale by Rowling, Thorne and director John Tiffany. The Melbourne production has also seen its stars Paula Arundell and William McKenna, who play Hermione Granger and Scorpius Malfoy respectively, nominated for Best Female Actor and Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role. It has picked up nominations for Costume Design (Katrina Lindsay), Best Lighting Design (Neil Austin), Best Original Score (Imogen Heap), Best Scenic Design (Christine Jones) and Best Sound Design (Gareth Fry).

Vaishnavi Suryaprakash and Sukania Venugopal. Photograph © Brett Boardman

Belvoir and Co-Curious’ Counting and Cracking has also been nominated for Best Production, as well as Best New Australian Work and Best Direction of a Play. Written by S. Shakthidharan and premiering as part of this year’s Sydney Festival before a season at the Adelaide Festival, it tells the story of four generations of a Sri Lankan family. Counting and Cracking has also received nominations for Best Male Actor (Prakash Belawadi), Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role in a Play (Vaishnavi Suryaprakash), and Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role in a Play (Antonythasan Jesuthasan), Best Scenic Design (Dale Ferguson) and Best Sound Design (Stefan Gregory).

Also in theatre and not far behind with six nominations is Sydney Theatre Company’s The Harp in the South: Part One and Part Two, Kate Mulvany’s acclaimed adaptation of Ruth Park’s trilogy of novels. It’s received nods for Best New Australian Work (Mulvany), Best Direction of a Play (Kip Williams) and Best Production of a Play. Renée Mulder and Nate Edmondson have been nominated for Best Costume Design and Best Sound Design respectively, while Helen Thomson picked up a nod for Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role. Notably, Thomson is also nominated for Best Female Actor in a Play for STC’s Mary Stuart, another adaptation by Mulvany, who has also been nominated in the same category for her solo turn in Belvoir’s Every Brilliant Thing.

Helen Thomson in Sydney Theatre Company’s production of The Harp in the South © Daniel Boud 

In addition to Counting and Cracking and The Harp in the South, nominations for Best New Australian work have gone to Lé Nør (The Last Great Hunt, Perth Festival, Perth Institute of Contemporary Art and Mandurah Performing Arts Centre), Felix Riebl’s Spinifex Gum (Adelaide Festival, Sydney Festival and Monash Academy of Performing Arts), Nakkiah Lui’s Blackie Blackie Brown: The Traditional Owner of Death (Sydney Theatre Company and Malthouse Theatre) and Ursula Yovich and Alana Valentine’s Barbara and the Camp Dogs (Belvoir).

In classical music, nominations for Best Symphony Orchestra Concert have gone to Daniel Barenboim Conducting Staatskapelle Berlin (Sydney Opera House Presents), Mahler Chamber Orchestra (Adelaide Festival), Mahler Six: Simone Young Conducts (Sydney Symphony Orchestra and Simone Young) and Tristan und Isolde (West Australian Symphony Orchestra).

Stuart Skelton, Asher Fisch and Gun-Brit Barkmin. Photo © West Australian Symphony Orchestra

In the Best Individual Classical Music Performance category, West Australian Symphony Orchestra’s Tristan und Isolde sees both conductor Asher Fisch and tenor Stuart Skelton nominated. Pinchgut Opera sees Vivica Genaux nominated for her solo recital, whilst oboist Diana Doherty’s performance in the Sydney Symphony Orchestra’s 2019 season opening gala has also seen her recognised.

For Best Chamber and/or Instrumental Ensemble Concert, Gabrieli Consort and Players’ King Arthur (Melbourne Recital Centre and State Opera of South Australia), Sabine Meyer & Alliage Quintett (Musica Viva Australia), Sara Macliver in Concert with Camerata (Camerata – Queensland’s Chamber Orchestra) and the Sretensky Monastery Choir (Adelaide Festival) have all received nominations.

Wozzeck, Opera AustraliaOpera Australia’s Wozzeck. Photo © Keith Saunders

In opera, Pinchgut Opera’s Artaserse, Komische Oper Berlin’s The Magic Flute, and Opera Australia’s Metamorphosis and Wozzeck have all received nominations for Best Opera. OA has the distinction of being the organisation with the most nominations in this year’s Helpmanns.

Best Music Direction nominations have meanwhile gone to Aaron Wyatt for Tura New Music and Perth Festival’s Speechless, Andrea Molino for Opera Australia’s Wozzeck, Erin Helyard for Pinchgut’s Artaserse and Jordan de Souza for Komische Oper Berlin’s The Magic Flute.

For Best Direction of an Opera, Barrie Kosky, Suzanne Andrade and 1927 have been nominated for The Magic Flute, as has Lindy Hume for Opera Queensland’s Don Giovanni, Sarah Giles for Victorian Opera’s Lorelei and William Kentridge for Opera Australia’s Wozzeck.

Salome, Opera AustraliaLise Lindstrom in Opera Australia’s Salome

In Best Female Performer in an Opera, Jessica Pratt has been nominated for her performance in the title role of OA’s Lucia di Lammermoor, Lise Lindstrom for the title role in OA’s Salome, Lorina Gore for Marie in OA’s Wozzeck and Vivica Genaux for Mandane in Pinchgut’s Artaserse. The Best Male Performer nominees are Aaron Blake for his Prince Tamino in Komische Oper Berlin’s The Magic Flute, David Hansen for Arbace in Artaserse, Michael Fabiano for the title role in OA’s Werther, Michael Honeyman for the title role in OA’s Wozzeck and Simon Lobelson for Gregor in OA’s Metamorphosis.

In Best Female Performer in a Supporting Role in an Opera, Aleksandra Olczyk is nominated for her Queen of the Night in Komische Oper Berlin’s The Magic Flute, Emma Pearson for Micaëla in State Opera South Australia’s Carmen in the Square, Natalie Aroyan for Eva in OA’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and Taryn Fiebig for the Mother in OA’s Metamorphosis. Best Male Performer in a Supporting Role nominees are Derek Welton for his Klingsor in VO’s Parsifal, John Longmuir for The Captain in OA’s Wozzeck, Nicholas Jones for David in OA’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and Tom Erik Lie for his Papageno in Komische Oper Berlin’s The Magic Flute.

Barbara and the Camp DogsElaine Crombie and Ursula Yovich in Barbara and the Camp Dogs. Photograph © Brett Boardman

In musical theatre, the nominations for Best Musical are Belvoir’s Barbara and the Camp Dogs, Opera Australia’s Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour: West Side Story, Blue Saint Productions’ In The Heights and John Frost’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Francesca Zambello (Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour: West Side Story), Hal Prince (Evita), Jack O’Brien (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) and Luke Joslin (In the Heights) have meanwhile been nominated for Best Direction of a Musical.

Performer nods have gone to Luisa Scrofani (In The Heights), Natalie Abbott (Global Creatures’ Muriel’s Wedding the Musical), Tina Arena (OA, John Frost and David Ian’s Evita) and Ursula Yovich (Barbara and the Camp Dogs) in the category Best Female Actor in a Musical, while Alexander Lewis (Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour: West Side Story), Blake Bowden (John Frost’s The Book of Mormon), Brent Hill (GWB Entertainment’s School of Rock the Musical) and Paul Slade Smith (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) are nominated for Best Male Actor in a Musical.

Forever & Ever. Photograph © Pedro Greig

In dance, The Australian Ballet’s Aurum, Semperoper Ballett’s Carmen, West Australian Ballet’s Dracula and Teatro alla Scala and QPAC’s Giselle are up for Best Ballet. Meanwhile, this year’s Best Dance Production nominees are Sydney Dance Company’s Forever & Ever, Hofesh Shechter Company and Adelaide Festival’s Grand Finale, Arts House and Jo Lloyd’s Overture and Australian Dance Theatre’s The Beginning of Nature.

Antony Hamilton (SDC’s Forever & Ever), Garry Stewart (ADT’s The Beginning of Nature), Hofesh Shechter (Hofesh Shechter Company and Adelaide Festival’s Grand Finale) and Rafael Bonachela (SDC’s ab[intra]) are up for Best Choreography in a Ballet, Dance or Physical Theatre Production.

This year’s Helpmanns marks the first time the annual awards will take place in Melbourne, presented over two events on July 14 and 15 at Arts Centre Melbourne.


Full list of nominations