BELVOIR picked up the lion’s share of the Sydney Theatre Awards yesterday, including best mainstage production for its acclaimed presentation of Measure for Measure.
The unconventional take on Shakespeare, in which a revolving set and surveillance cameras took the audience deep into the action, also won best director for Benedict Andrews and best stage design for Ralph Myers and Sean Bacon.
The other big winner for Belvoir was The Diary of a Madman, which scored four awards: to Yael Stone for best actress in a supporting role, Tess Schofield for costume design, Mark Shelton for lighting design, and Alan John and Paul Charlier for score or sound design.
The sold-out production continues at Belvoir Street until February 6 before it travels to New York for a one-month season at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
The night’s other highly fancied contender, the Sydney Theatre Company/Bell Shakespeare production of Uncle Vanya, picked up two awards: to Hugo Weaving for best supporting actor and to Richard Roxburgh for actor in a leading role, edging out Geoffrey Rush in Madman.
Robyn Nevin was named best actress in a leading role for her star turn in STC’s Long Day’s Journey into Night.
In a nice counter to the glitz of the Golden Globes, the theatre awards were handed out at Paddington RSL, complete with musical numbers from Michael Cormick and Jan van de Stool (aka Queenie Van der Zandt, one of the stars of the Sydney Festival’s Smoke & Mirrors).
The awards were resurrected in 2006 after a 10-year hiatus. They have since been embraced by Sydney’s theatre community. They are presented by a group of theatre critics mainly from print media, and do not include overseas productions.
In other awards, The Fence (Urban Theatre Projects and Sydney Festival) was named best independent production.
Namatjira (Big hArt/Company B) won best new Australian work for Scott Rankin and best newcomer for Derek Lynch – possibly on the strength of his regal turn as a young Queen Elizabeth II.
The Book of Everything (Belvoir/Theatre of Image) won best production for children.
In the musical categories, Jersey Boys won best production of a musical and best actor in a musical for Bobby Fox, and Christine Anu was named best actress in a musical for the return season of Company B’s The Sapphires.
Trevor Ashley’s I’m Every Woman was named best cabaret production.
John Bell received the lifetime achievement award.