Paul Blackwell wins Helpmann Award for final stage role

The late Paul Blackwell was recognised at the first installment of the 2019 Helpmann Awards last night, while Adelaide Festival highlights Counting and Cracking and The Magic Flute both collected multiple awards.

Celebrating the best in performing arts across theatre, dance, cabaret, opera and musicals, the 2019 Helpmann Awards are being held across two nights at Arts Centre Melbourne. Robyn Archer AO helmed the first ceremony on Sunday, July 15, which dished out twenty awards in categories ranging from sound, costume and lighting design to a suite of best supporting actor fields.

Belvoir St and Co-Curious co-production Counting and Cracking was the biggest winner of the evening, collecting four awards from emerging star Vaishnavi Suryaprakash’s Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role in a Play win to directors Eamon Flack and S. Shakthidharan who claimed Best Direction in a Play. After making its debut in Sydney, the epic production was transplanted to Wayville in March for a celebrated Adelaide Festival run.

The cast of Counting and Cracking (Photo: Brett Boardman / Belvoir St Theatre)
Vaishnavi Suryaprakash in Counting and Cracking (Photo: Brett Boardman / Belvoir St Theatre)

Adelaide Festival’s 2019 tentpole, Komische Oper Berlin’s The Magic Flute, also saw Barrie Kosky and Suzanne Andrade claim Best Direction of an Opera, while Tom Erik Lie was awarded Best Male in a Supporting Role in an Opera. Ursula Yovich and Alana Valentine’s musical Barbara and the Camp Dogs also received multiple awards, with Yovich, Valentine and Adm Ventoura taking out Best Original Score and Port Pirie export Elaine Crombie receiving a nod for Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical.

But it was Blackwell’s Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role in a Play win that will stick in the memories of local theatre lovers, with the respected Adelaide actor recognised for his role in Belvoir St’s Judy Davis-directed production of Faith Healer opposite Colin Friels and Alison Whyte, which the State Theatre brought to Adelaide in September 2018. It proved to be Blackwell’s final stage role, passing away in February at the age of 64.

The second crop of 2019 Helpmann Awards will be announced tonight, Monday, July 15, in a televised hosted by actor and writer Susie Youssef and new State Theatre Company artistic director Mitchell Butel. The ceremony will be broadcast on ABC Comedy from 8pm.

Helpmann Awards 2019 winners (Act I)

Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role in a Play
Vaishnavi Suryaprakash, Counting and Cracking

Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role in a Play
Paul Blackwell, Faith Healer

Best Male in a Supporting Role in an Opera
Tom Erik Lie, The Magic Flute

Best Female Performer in a Supporting Role in an Opera
Taryn Fiebig, Metamorphosis

Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical
Tony Sheldon, Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical
Elaine Crombie, Barbara and the Camp Dogs

Best Costume Design
Gabriela Tylesova, Twelfth Night

Best Scenic Design
Dale Ferguson, Counting and Cracking

Best Lighting Design
Neil Austin, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Best Sound Design
Stefan Gregory, Counting and Cracking

Best Music Direction
Erin Helyard, Artaserse

Best Original Score
Ursula Yovich, Alana Valentine and Adm Ventoura, Barbara and the Camp Dogs

Best Presentation for Children and Young People
Arena Theatre Company, Robot Song

Best Regional Touring Production
Bangarra Dance Theatre, Bennelong

Best Choreography in a Ballet, Dance or Physical Theatre Production
Antony Hamilton, Forever and Ever

Best Choreography in a Musical
Malik Le Nost and Mitchell Woodcock, Saturday Night Fever

Best Direction of an Opera
Barrie Kosky and Suzanne Andrade, The Magic Flute

Best Direction of a Musical
Francesca Zambello, West Side Story

Best Direction of a Play
Eamon Flack and S. Shakthidharan, Counting and Cracking

Sue Nattrass Award
Liz Jones AO

Header image:
Jeff Busby

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