The nominations for the 2019 Sydney Theatre Awards have been announced today, with Sydney Theatre Company’s The Beauty Queen of Leenane leading the pack with 10 nominations. It’s followed by BB Arts Entertainment, Two Doors Productions and Hayes Theatre Co’s American Psycho and Belvoir and Co-Curious’ Counting and Cracking, both with nine nominations each. Nominations in the 34 categories were spread across 46 productions which were seen on Sydney stages during 2019.

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

The Beauty Queen of Leenane, which Limelight described as a “stunning production with… truthful, deeply felt performances”, has received nods for Best Mainstage Production, Best Direction of a Mainstage Production for Paige Rattray, and Best Female Actor in a Leading Role in a Mainstage Production for both Noni Hazlehurst and Yael Stone. The production was also nominated for Best Stage Design of a Mainstage Production for Renée Mulder, Best Costume Design of a Mainstage Production for Mulder again, Best Lighting Design of a Mainstage Production for Paul Jackson (who is nominated again in the same category for STC’s Mary Stuart), and Best Sound Design of a Mainstage Production for Steve Francis.

Ben Gerrard in American Psycho. Photograph © Clare Hawley

American Psycho has meanwhile been nominated for 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 Musical for Ben Gerrard, Best Musical Direction for Andrew Worboys and Best Choreography in a Musical for Yvette Lee. It has also garnered recognition for 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 Alexander Berlage and Best Sound Design of an Independent production for Nicholas Walker.

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

Counting and Cracking, hailed by Limelight as “exciting, groundbreaking Australian theatre” has been nominated for Best Mainstage Production, Best Direction of a Mainstage Production for Eamon Flack, Best Male Actor in a Leading Role in a Mainstage Production for Shiv Palekar and Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role in a Mainstage Production for Vaishnavi Suryaprakash. It has also been nominated for Best Stage Design of a Mainstage Production for Dale Ferguson, Best Costume Design of a Mainstage Production for Ferguson again, Best Sound Design of a Mainstage Production for Stefan Gregory, Best Original Score of a Mainstage of a Mainstage Production for Gregory again, and Best New Australian Work.

The Sydney Theatre Awards are presented annually by a group of leading theatre critics in celebration of the strength, quality and diversity of the Sydney theatre scene. The panel consists of Elissa Blake (Audrey Journal), Jason Blake (Audrey Journal), Deborah Jones (The Australian), Jade Kops (BroadwayWorld), Jo Litson (Limelight), John McCallum (The Australian), Ben Neutze (Time Out), John Shand (The Sydney Morning Herald), Diana Simmonds (Stagenoise), Cassie Tongue (Time Out) and Suzy Wrong (Suzy Goes See).

The critics all agreed that 2019 was a strong year for theatre in Sydney. “The initial list of nominations for performances by female actors was particularly long and strong this year, and very difficult decisions had to be made by the group to narrow it down to the final four nominees in each acting category,” said Jo Litson. “It was hard to do, and several performances that could easily have won an award had the line-up not been so incredibly impressive didn’t make it to the shortlist. But it says something for our industry that the level of performance was so high and the competition so fierce.”

Deborah Jones agreed, adding: “It was also immensely satisfying to see theatre-makers embrace the diversity of Australian culture. It’s clear from our list of nominees that audiences had their lives enriched by artists and stories from an invigorating range of backgrounds and perspectives. There’s more to be done there, however, and it’s the only way to go if audiences are to become more strongly representative of our society. The realisation some years ago that women were vastly and most unfairly under-represented in theatre directing and writing led to action that is now bearing brilliant fruit as our nominations for Best Mainstage Production, Best Direction of a Mainstream Production and Best New Australian Work attest. Onwards!”

The winners of each category and the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award will be announced at a ceremony on January 20 at the Seymour Centre.


Full list of nominations

BEST MAINSTAGE PRODUCTION

The Beauty Queen of Leenane (Sydney Theatre Company)
Counting and Cracking (Belvoir and Co-Curious)
First Love is the Revolution (Griffin Theatre Company)
Prima Facie (Griffin Theatre Company)

BEST INDEPENDENT PRODUCTION

Angels in America (Apocalypse Theatre Company in association with Red Line Productions)
The Happy Prince (Little Ones Theatre)
John (Outhouse Theatre Co and Seymour Centre)
Krapp’s Last Tape (Red Line Productions)

BEST DIRECTION OF A MAINSTAGE PRODUCTION

Eamon Flack (Counting and Cracking)
Lee Lewis (First Love is the Revolution)
Lee Lewis (Prima Facie)
Paige Rattray (The Beauty Queen of Leenane)

BEST DIRECTION OF AN INDEPENDENT PRODUCTION

Craig Baldwin (John)
Dino Dimitriadis (Angels in America)
Gale Edwards (Krapp’s Last Tape)
Stephen Nicolazzo (The Happy Prince)

BEST FEMALE ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE IN A MAINSTAGE PRODUCTION

Shakira Clanton (The Weekend)
Sheridan Harbridge (Prima Facie)
Noni Hazlehurst (The Beauty Queen of Leenane)
Yael Stone (The Beauty Queen of Leenane)

BEST MALE ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE IN A MAINSTAGE PRODUCTION

Johnny Carr (The Real Thing)
Josh McConville (Packer & Sons)
Shiv Palekar (Counting and Cracking)
Meyne Wyatt (City of Gold)

BEST FEMALE ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE IN AN INDEPENDENT PRODUCTION

Catherine Văn-Davies (The Happy Prince)
Belinda Giblin (John)
Kate Skinner (Anatomy of a Suicide)
Janine Watson (The Happy Prince)

BEST MALE ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE IN AN INDEPENDENT PRODUCTION

Justin Amankwah (Good Dog)
Jonathan Biggins (Krapp’s Last Tape)
Jamie Oxenbould (Trevor)
Sam Wang (Skyduck: A Chinese Spy Comedy)

BEST FEMALE ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A MAINSTAGE PRODUCTION

Amy Hack (First Love is the Revolution)
Bessie Holland (Così)
Shari Sebbens (City of Gold)
Vaishnavi Suryaprakash (Counting and Cracking)

BEST MALE ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE OF A MAINSTAGE PRODUCTION

Brandon McClelland (Packer & Sons)
Robert Menzies (Così)
Hamish Michael (The Beauty Queen of Leenane)
Shiv Palekar (The Beauty Queen of Leenane)

BEST FEMALE ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN AN INDEPENDENT PRODUCTION

Maggie Blinco (John)
Catherine Văn-Davies (Angels in America)
Jude Gibson (Angels in America)
Georgina Symes (Gloria)

BEST MALE ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN AN INDEPENDENT PRODUCTION

Joseph Althouse (Angels in America)
Mansoor Noor (Omar and Dawn)
Timothy Wardell (Angels in America)
Rowan Witt (Gloria)

BEST STAGE DESIGN OF A MAINSTAGE PRODUCTION

Ella Butler (First Love is the Revolution)
Dale Ferguson (Counting and Cracking)
Renée Mulder (The Beauty Queen of Leenane)
Eugyeene Teh (Titus Andronicus)

BEST STAGE DESIGN OF AN INDEPENDENT PRODUCTION

Jeremy Allen (John)
Shane Anthony and Gus Murray (Anatomy of a Suicide)
Isabel Hudson (American Psycho)
Melanie Liertz (HMS Pinafore)

BEST COSTUME DESIGN OF A MAINSTAGE PRODUCTION

Dale Ferguson (Counting and Cracking)
Renée Mulder (The Beauty Queen of Leenane)
Mel Page (Mary Stuart)
Eugyeene Teh (Titus Andronicus)

BEST COSTUME DESIGN OF AN INDEPENDENT PRODUCTION

Mason Browne (American Psycho)
Melanie Liertz (HMS Pinafore)
Siobhan Jett O’Hanlon (Anatomy of a Suicide)
Eugyeene Teh (The Happy Prince)

BEST LIGHTING DESIGN OF A MAINSTAGE PRODUCTION

Benjamin Brockman (Splinter)
Verity Hampson (Titus Andronicus)
Paul Jackson (The Beauty Queen of Leenane)
Paul Jackson (Mary Stuart)

BEST LIGHTING DESIGN OF AN INDEPENDENT PRODUCTION

Veronique Bennett (John)
Alexander Berlage (American Psycho)
Benjamin Brockman (Coram Boy)
Benjamin Brockman (Herringbone)

BEST SOUND DESIGN OF A MAINSTAGE PRODUCTION

David Bergman (First Love is the Revolution)
Steve Francis (The Beauty Queen of Leenane)
Stefan Gregory (Counting and Cracking)
Max Lyandvert (Titus Andronicus)

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE OF A MAINSTAGE PRODUCTION

Michael Askill with Hamed Sadeghi (The Iliad Out Loud)
Yve Blake (Fangirls)
Stefan Gregory (Counting and Cracking)
Max Lyandvert (Mary Stuart)

BEST SOUND DESIGN OF AN INDEPENDENT PRODUCTION

Nate Edmondson (Coram Boy)
Nate Edmondson (HMS Pinafore)
Jessica James-Moody (Herringbone)
Nicholas Walker (American Psycho)

BEST NEW AUSTRALIAN WORK

City of Gold (Meyne Wyatt)
Counting and Cracking (S. Shakthidharan)
First Love is the Revolution (Rita Kalnejais)
Prima Facie (Suzie Miller)
The Weekend (Henrietta Baird)
White Pearl (Anchuli Felicia King)

BEST NEWCOMER

Joseph Althouse (Angels in America/Lord of the Flies)
Nyx Calder (Jess and Joe Forever/Lord of the Flies)
Chika Ikogwe (The Wolves/Fangirls)
Billie Palin (HMS Pinafore)
Stephanie Somerville (A Little Piece of Ash/Slaughterhouse)

BEST ENSEMBLE

Anatomy of a Suicide (Old Fitz Theatre)
Coram Boy (bAKEHOUSE Theatre Company)
First Love is the Revolution (Griffin)
White Pearl (National Theatre of Parramatta and Sydney Theatre Company)

BEST PRODUCTION OF A MAINSTREAM MUSICAL

Fangirls (Belvoir, Queensland Theatre and Brisbane Festival in association with ATYP)
Once (Darlinghurst Theatre Company)
School of Rock (GWB Entertainment in association with KHAM Inc)
West Side Story (HOSH/Opera Australia)

BEST PRODUCTION OF AN INDEPENDENT MUSICAL

American Psycho (BB Arts Entertainment and Two Doors Productions in association with Hayes Theatre Co)
Caroline, or Change (Hayes Theatre Co)
Herringbone (Squabbologic)
HMS Pinafore (Hayes Theatre Co)

BEST DIRECTION OF A MUSICAL

Alexander Berlage (American Psycho)
Mitchell Butel (Caroline, or Change)
Kate Gaul (HMS Pinafore)
Jay James-Moody & Michael Ralph (Herringbone)

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

Natalie Abbott (Muriel’s Wedding)
Natalie Bassingthwaighte (Chicago)
Stefanie Caccamo (Once)
Elenoa Rokobaro (Caroline, or Change)

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

Ben Gerrard (American Psycho)
Brent Hill (School of Rock)
Jay James-Moody (Herringbone)
Jake Speer (Catch Me If You Can)

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

Karli Dinardo (West Side Story)
Amy Hack (Caroline, or Change)
Stefanie Jones (Muriel’s Wedding)
Amy Lehpamer (School of Rock)

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

Simon Burke (Catch Me If You Can)
Thomas Campbell (HMS Pinafore)
Mark Hill (West Side Story)
Justin Smith (Billy Elliot)

BEST MUSICAL DIRECTION

Lucy Bermingham (Caroline, or Change)
Victoria Falconer (Once)
Zara Stanton (HMS Pinafore)
Andrew Worboys (American Psycho) 

BEST CHOREOGRAPHY IN A MUSICAL

Amy Campbell (Once)
Yvette Lee (American Psycho)
Leonard Mickelo (Fangirls)
Cameron Mitchell (Catch Me If You Can)

BEST CABARET PRODUCTION

Love is a Drag (Tim Draxl)
Hayes at the Hayes (Nancye Hayes)
A Celebration of Ella Fitzgerald (Alison Jiear)
Hayden Tee: Up Close and Intimate (Hayden Tee)

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

To be revealed at the Awards ceremony