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BWW Feature: HELPMANN AWARDS 2016: ONCE MORE, WITH FEELING at Sydney Lyric Theatre

Another year, another hootenanny of an evening celebrating Australia's finest in live performance. You may by now have effectively updated yourself with the scuttlebutt through Broadway World's article of winners and runners-up, as well as our twitter for a preview of the Red Carpet rapture to be uploaded soon. But if you're thirst for more, you want some intimate detail about the night's proceeding, look no further pilgrim! 'Cos I'm here to give it to you! SPOILER ALERT!

Helen Dallimore opening the hosting duties for the evening was the most hilarious and salacious performance I've seen, proving that Aussie artists all-too-thankfully don't take themselves too seriously just yet!

Image by Getty Images

Male Actor in a Supporting Role: Mark Leonard Winter, King Lear
Gifted enough to see his nude frolic in pouring rain and gold streamers personally, I can appreciate though not empathise with per se, his belief the win made seeing the performance worth it for his mother.

Female Actor in a Supporting Role in a Play: Sarah Pierse, The Golden Age
Taking home the first nods to Sydney Theatre Company, with thanks to Kip Williams, Andrew Upton and Louis Nowra the play's writer. Broadway World reviewed Louis' Inner Voices for Red Line Productions.

Male Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical: Daniel Fredriksen, Matilda the Musical
With only systemic sexism to stop him from being the first to collect the slew of prizes for Matilda the Musical, Daniel showed is gratitude to Louise Withers, producer of the incredible production.

Female Actor in Supporting Role in a Musical: Elise McCann, Matilda the Musical
With Elise's win for playing Miss Honey, it was one of the night's highlights when her thank you was responded to with a "YOU'RE WELCOME HONEY" from her father in the audience.

International Contemporary Concert: Various, Prince 'Piano & A Microphone Tour'
Accepted by Dainty Group, the prize was a sombre reminder of how thankful Australian and New Zealand audiences were to be among the last to see Price perform live as the immortal icon.

Contemporary Music Festival: Womadelaide 2016
It became very apparent to anyone in a two-mile radius that I was from Adelaide by the solo squeal of excitement to see my hometown take a little recognition.

Australian Contemporary Concert: Various, Kate Miller-Heidke and the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra with Visuals by Amy Gebhardt
if anyone saw this, please contact us, it sounded like an amazing time we'd love to know more about!

First performance of the night, Sarah Blasko's hit from last year Luxurious bringing the mood back to the deeper and delicious in time for giving the behind-the-scenes legends their more-than-well-deserved accolades, presented by the sonically and comically sublime Umbilical Brothers.

Costume Design: Rob Howell, Matilda the Musical
While the rest of us were sensing a theme, Rob thanked the whole team who appeared to be slaving away under Tim Minchin's Christian-Grey style influence on Groundhog Day.

Lighting Design: Hugh Vanstone, Matilda the Musical
Well this is just getting ridiculous.

Sound Design: Simon Baker, Matilda the Musical
Complete surprise!!! Luckily we're moving into the Classical section so the Matilda crew can have a rest.

Before moving on though, Michael Lynch accepted the honour of the Sue Nattrass Award. With over three decades of arts running behind him and hopefully all the more ahead, Michael spoke most inspiringly about the need for leadership in the industry at a time it is being undermined and underfunded. His statements about arts being a true profession and practice requiring skill and technique were the tonic for a hard campaign ongoing to restore funding to the arts.

Individual Classical Music Performance: Pierre Laurent-Aimard

Chamber and/or Instrumental Ensemble Concert: Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, French Baroque with Circa
Accepting the award on their behalf, the speaker for the orchestra spoke about the importance of classical music embracing mixed art-forms and vice versa to transform the style and stereotype for the better. Superb.

Symphony Orchestra Concert: Australian World Orchestra, Sir Simon Rattle Conducts the Australian World Orchestra
In these times of stretched funding and cheaper flights than ever, it makes sense and fills us with pride to see Australian musicians be plucked out of southern obscurity and launched on global stages. Every now and then they return to their home country to play for the AWO. Here's hoping Brexit doesn't spoil that too badly!

Original Score: Tim Minchin, Matilda the Musical
Came out of nowhere!! Having seen Matilda in London, I can personally attest to how smart and intricate Minchin's incredible craft is and to see his genuine delight in the accolade made it all the more enjoyable to see him thank dear friend Eddie Perfect, and role models David Page and Tim Finn as co-nominees.

The announcement of Toby Thatcher as the final winner of the Brian Stacey Award, a large financial prize to further emerging conductors was quite the emotional moment, one of many to come throughout the night.

Music Direction: Stephen Amos, Matilda the Musical

Presentation for Children: Barking Gecko Theatre Company, Bambert's Book of Lost Stories
The quote said it all - "we should challenge children; for our smallest, only the finest"

Regional Touring Production: Various, Sugarland
An incredible venture of investment, travel to rural Australia, and combining Indigenous talent, it was wonderful to hear the story of how this production came together to honour and inspire young Australians.

Cabaret Performer: Michael Griffiths, Cole
It's early enough in the morning (2.05AM AEST) to admit that seeing the winner blow his male partner a kiss absolutely brought me to tears of pride and gratitude for what the arts industry provides diverse communities. Sorry to have missed it, Jade reviewed.

Comedy Performer: Tom Ballard, The World Keeps Happening
Another queer takes the crown!

The honour for Outstanding Contribution to the Development of Comedy in Australia was given to Melbourne Comedy Festival celebrating its 30th year! In hot pursuit were classical gems Marina Prior & Mark Vincent who sung Time to Say Goodbye from their album Together to the memorial of artists lost this year.

Visual or Physical Theatre Production: Various, Il Ritorno
It was fantastic to see the accolades distributed across the states, with performances by Perth crews later in the program!

Choreography in a Dance/Physical Theatre Work: Frances Rings, Sheoak
A big year for Bangarra with the loss of David Page, something that has clearly impacted the entire company in an acute and raw way. Rings' speech was a beautiful ode to the stories and families she was able to share with David before his passing.

Choreography in a Musical: Peter Darling, Matilda the Musical
And it will forever be known as The Lord of the Rings of musical theatre, or perhaps the One Direction of musical theatre. Also Peter is truly a Darling.

Male Dancer in a Dance/Physical Theatre Work: Kimball Wong, Habitus

Female Dancer in a Dance/Physical Theatre Work: Yolanda Lowatta, Sheoak
There is nothing more endearing than a winner who genuinely didn't believe they would be one. It also sends a clear message about important it is we exalt our diverse communities.

Stephen Page was up next receiving the prestigious JC Williamson Award for Lifetime Achievement. One of the founders of Bangarra, Stephen's family has revolutionised Indigenous performance and built it for the world in more and more ways. His acceptance was powerful in its decision for Indigenous performers to set down their own musical theatre, technical production, classical and contemporary performance contributors and companies. He empoted "with land, comes stories" and "art is the best medicine".

Male Performer in a Supporting Role in an Opera: Joao Fernandes, Agrippina

Female Performer in a Supporting Role in an Opera: Keri Fuge, Agrippina
Um, but there weren't a slew of little girls in this?!

Male Performer in an Opera: Carlo Vistoli, Agrippina
The opera that will henceforth be known as the Matilda of opera.

Female Performer in an Opera: Nicole Car, Luisa Miller
There's always got to be one who spoils the dream run for everyone else. Thank goodness, no-one likes a clean sweep! Except BWW.

Direction of an Opera: Sir David McVicar, The Marriage of Figaro

from Agrippina. Image from Limelight Magazine.

Male Actor in a Play: Mark Leonard Winter, Birdland

Female Actor in a Play: Paula Arundell, The Bleeding Tree
Dedicated her win to the shaking hand in the artist's heart, inspired by one Matilda from earlier in the night whose nerves and drive shone through her magnificent performance.

Male Actor in a Musical: James Millar, Matilda the Musical
Seriously, where are they going to put all of these?

Female Actor in a Musical: Molly Barwick, Dusty Bursill, Tiana Mirra, Alannah Parfett, Sasha Rose, Georgia Taplin, Bella Thomas and Ingrid Torelli, Matilda the Musical
In a move reminiscent of the never-before-done multi-win at the Olivier Awards in London, clearly replicated not only for how adorable it was, but due to the talent of the young woman to sing and soar in this role between them.

Direction of a Play: Lee Lewis, The Bleeding Tree
A show I deeply wish I'd been living in Sydney to see, tackling the unacceptable rates of domestic violence in this country, Lee talked tear-jerkingly of the importance of work that does challenge social issues and raises up new Australian playwrights, producers, performers. Read the review here.

Direction of a Musical: Matthew Warchus, Matilda the Musical
One of my favourite acceptance speeches of the evening, making it well worth the absolute takeover of Matilda, Matthew emphasised the importance of creative imagination and how "stories can defeat prejudice and violence".

New Australian Work: Queensland Theatre Company, Ladies in Black

Opera: Various, Agrippina

Ballet or Dance Work: Bangarra Dance Theatre, Sheoak

Play: Griffin Theatre Company, The Bleeding Tree

Musical: Matilda the Musical

Congratulations to every winner, to every nominee, to every swollen heart, and to every drenched face of makeup in need of swift and bemused reapplication after a stunning return of the Singing in the Rain cast for the moistening titular number. PS Gretel Scarlett owned that role, absolutely stole every scene. Get it girl! See you next year!

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