Nominations for 2009 Helpmann Awards announced

Helpmann AwardsLeft - Wicked's Amanda Harrison and Rodney Dobson. Photo - Vito Mattarelli

Live Performance Australia
this week announced the nominations for the 2009 Helpmann Awards. For the first time, a nominations ceremony was held simultaneously in Melbourne and Sydney.
Comic performer Colin Lane was the host at the Melbourne event, supported by Amanda Harrison (Wicked), Mitchell Butel (Avenue Q) and Pamela Rabe (War of the Roses) who shared the duties of reading out the nominations.
Unsurprisingly, the mega-musical Wicked led the field of contenders with 12 nominations - including Best Musical and one for the late Rob Guest.
Some of the evening's surprise nominations included four for the unsuccessful Spamalot, which opened at the end of 2007. The nomination for Todd McKenney in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert also seemed unnecessary as this was the show's return season (in Sydney), rather than a new production.
Australian musicals like Shane Warne The Musical and Matthew Robinson's Metro Street managed well though, with several nominations between them.

In the theatre categories, the nominations appeared dominated by Sydney productions, not a good sign for a national awards system. The four Best Play productions came from the Sydney Theatre Company, the Sydney Festival and the Sydney Opera House. This was reflected in the Best Male Actor and Best Female Actor in a Play categories.
Well known performers including Cate Blanchett (War of the Roses), Reg Livermore (My Fair Lady), Eddie Perfect (Shane Warne the Musical) and even Grace Jones (Best International Contemporary Concert) received nominations.
The 2009 Helpmann Awards Ceremony will be held on Monday 27 July at the Opera Theatre, Sydney Opera House and will be broadcast live on the Bio Channel, Foxtel.
The event will be hosted by Jonathan Biggins and Julia Zemiro and will feature performances from the casts of Avenue Q, Chicago, Jerry Springer the Opera, and Wicked.
The Awards ceremony will include the 13th Brian Stacey Award and $6000 to Daniel Smith to continue honing his craft as an emerging conductor.

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