Theatre’s night of nights

First of all I would like to let everyone know that our new website could launch as early as this weekend – I am working with the developers as you read this to put the finishing touches on the new look and it’s coming together very nicely.

As part of all of the changes, you will notice that things have been a little slow around here lately and this week in particular will be a little quiet. Rest assured that we’re on top of everything and when we re-launch soon it’ll be an exciting time and a revolution for the website and its future.

Now, onto theatre issues and let’s look at the 2009 Helpmann Awards, which are just a week away. I’m excited – as I usually am – by the prospect of the Helpmanns and can’t wait to head to the Opera House on Monday night for what is truly becoming theatre’s night of nights.

The Helpmanns have their knockers and those who believe negativity is apparently the solution to a positive future but after brushing those comments aside you see that there’s a huge future for this concept.

Its biggest challenge, perhaps, is engaging with the general public, inclusive of theatre-goers.

Already there’s some great work being done in relation to this and the biggest positive of all is that Foxtel broadcasts the ceremony live and will apparently show the entire ceremony on delay at a later time.

But what is hurting the Helpmanns is some of the rather bizarre nominations, highlighted this year by the fact that Spamalot – which premiered in December 2007 – is amongst the nominees for Best Musical as well as other major awards.

When the panel (I am on the panel, but did not attend this year’s meeting) sits down to decide who should be nominated for the Helpmann Awards, they obviously look at the vast number of shows that were presented inside the last season. Great shows, and sometimes, it is very difficult to make a choice.

That choice is made even more difficult when shows that premiered nearly two years ago can be considered for nomination. On the surface it simply seems unfair. Why should other shows in a certain category have to battle a show that didn’t premiere in the same season as them?

Does it not set a dangerous precedent?

Sure, Spamalot was not considered last year, obviously because a tour was in the realms of possibility. The tour didn’t happen – which is unfortunate – but that shouldn’t mean the show can simply be considered the next year.

There needs to be an overhaul of the Helpmann Award rules that ensures shows being considered premiered in the same season.

There’s already enough disparity amongst the shows nominated to be adding more confusion to the system.

My opinion on this year’s awards? Wicked should, and will, dominate. And what a way to land in Sydney…

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