‘Mamma’s’ day in Oz

Helpmann Awards laud Abba tuner, 'Cloudstreet'

SYDNEY — The second annual Helpmann Awards — the Tony equivalent for all of Oz — were bestowed May 6 in the Showroom at Sydney’s Star City Casino.

Best musical was Dainty Consolidated Entertainment’s “Mamma Mia!,” currently playing its 11th month at Melbourne’s Princess Theater. Opera Australia’s “Sweeney Todd” collected top director (musical) for Gale Edwards, as well as trophies for best actress Judi Connelli, actor Peter Coleman-Wright and scenic designer Peter England.

Best play went to Company B Belvoir and Black Swan Theater’s landmark production of “Cloudstreet,” for which Neil Armfield also nabbed best director (play), Iain Grandage best score and Mark Howett lighting design.

Best opera and new Oz work awards went to “Batavia,” created by Richard Mills and Peter Goldsworthy and co-produced by Opera Australia and the Melbourne Festival. It played just two nights at the 2001 Melbourne Fest. Lindy Hume also was named best director (opera).

Stage vet John Bell nabbed best actor (play) for toplining his own Bell Shakespeare Co. production of “Richard III.” Best actress (play) went to Amanda Muggleton for her turn in Intl. Concert Attractions’ “Master Class.”

Top ballet or dance work was “Requiem,” a co-prod of the Australian Ballet and State Opera of South Australia.

Best visual or physical theater production trophy went to the inaugural production from Force Majeure, “Same, Same but Different.” Cabaret artist Paul Capsis collected the award for best live music presentation for his solo piece “Capsis vs. Capsis.” Gong for best musical direction went to Simone Young for Opera Australia’s “Andrea Chenier,” top ballet choreography went to Bangarra Dance Theater’s Stephen Page for “Corroboree” and musical choreography to David Atkins for “Singin’ in the Rain.” Best kids show was “Hi-5 Alive” produced by Network Nine, ICA and Kids Like Us.

Top male (opera) performer was Jonathan Summers for his turn in the State Opera of South Australia’s “Parsifal”; his distaff counterpart was Lisa Gasteen for Opera Australia’s “Tristan and Isolde.” Top dancers were Stephen Heathcote in the Australian Ballet’s “Giselle” and Kate Champion for Performing Lines’ “About Face.”

This year’s recipients of the James Cassius Award, named after the late live theater pioneer, were producer Kevin Jacobsen and Sydney Dance Co. director Graeme Murphy.