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Windmill a frontrunner in Helpmann Awards


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South Australia has scored a slew of nominations in the prestigious Helpmann Awards this year, with Windmill Theatre picking up six for its rites-of-passage play School Dance.

The production is one of the four shortlisted in the category of Best Presentation for Children in the awards, which last night announced nominations simultaneously at events in six cities, including at the Adelaide Festival Centre.

Amber McMahon has been nominated for Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role in a Play, while School Dance director Rosemary Myers, designer Jonathon Oxlade, writer Matthew Whittet and sound designer Luke Smiles scored nominations for Best Direction of a Play, Best Scenic Design, Best New Australian Work and Best Sound Design, respectively. Whittet, Oxlade and Smiles also star as teenage nerds in the play, which is drawn partly from the trio’s own school memories.

School Dance, which premiered at the Adelaide Festival last year, has already won a number of other awards, including the 2012 Ruby Award for best show.

Live Performance Australia, which runs the Helpmann Awards, said it received 822 entries across 41 categories – one of the highest numbers in the awards’ 13-year history.

Actress Alison Bell scored a double best actress nomination for her role in the State Theatre Company of South Australia production of Hedda Gabler and the Melbourne Theatre Company’s Constellations. Hedda Gabler, adapted by Joanna Murray Smith, has also been nominated for Best Play alongside Belvoir’s Death of a Salesman and Medea, and Sydney Theatre Company’s The Secret River. The latter, an adaptation of the Kate Grenville novel of the same name, has dominated this year’s awards, with nominations in 11 categories.

Two shows from the Adelaide Festival Centre’s 2012 Adelaide Cabaret Festival are in contention for the Best Cabaret Performer award –  Tommy Bradson’s The Men My Mother Loved and Mark Nadler’s I’m a Stranger Here Myself – while Anna Vidovic’s show from the Adelaide International Guitar Festival has been nominated for Best Individual Classical Music Performance.

Douglas McNicol (Best Male Performer in a Supporting Role in an Opera) and Jessica Dean (Best Female Performer in a Supporting Role in an Opera) have both scored nominations for the State Opera of South Australia’s production of Fidelio.

In the Best Australian Contemporary Concert category, Archie Roach’s Adelaide Festival show Into the Bloodstream has been nominated alongside concerts by Goyte, Keith Urban, and Neil Finn and Paul Kelly (who also performed in Elder Park during the Adelaide Festival). Another 2013 Adelaide Festival show, Murder, presented by Erth, is in the running for Best Visual or Physical Theatre Production.

Live Performance Australia chief executive Evelyn Richardson described the Helpmann Awards as “the pinnacle night of nights for the industry”.

“We’ve had a large number of strong entries and we’re thrilled that there are so many new Australian works created that are worthy of nominations,” she told AAP.

A special additional award will also be awarded this year to the much-talked-about stage production of King Kong, recognising the design, creation and operation of the Kong itself.

The 13th Annual Helpmann Awards will presented at the Sydney Opera House on July 29.

The full list of nominees can be viewed online


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