Chicago has won the three major musical awards at the Sydney Theatre Awards, including the coveted Best Musical gong – edging out the blockbuster production of Wicked at the Capitol Theatre.
Sharon Millerchip won Best Actress in a Musical whilst Damien Bermingham has taken out the Best Male Actor in a Musical award.
Wicked didn’t win a single award – a major surprise considering its generally positive reception since opening at the Capitol Theatre last year.
The Sydney Theatre Company – once struggling to walk away with gongs from this event – had a dominating night, winning Best Mainstage Production for The War Of The Roses.
The STC also won a swag of other awards – Benedict Andrews won Best Direction (The War Of The Roses), Cate Blanchett took home Best Actress (A Streetcar Named Desire) and Ewen Leslie won Best Actor (The War Of The Roses).
STC shows also took home an array of creative awards.
The Sydney Theatre Awards are run by a group of theatre critics to celebrate the strength, quality and diversity of theatre in Sydney. The Sydney Theatre Reviewers consist of Jason Blake (Sydney Morning Herald), Deborah Jones (The Australian), Alex Lalak (Daily Telegraph), Jo Litson (The Sunday Telegraph), John McCallum (The Australian), Diana Simmonds (Stage Noise) and John Shand (Sydney Morning Herald).
Essentially a baby sister to the Helpmann Awards, the Sydney Theatre Awards are presented in a casual atmosphere, and tend to best exemplify the close-knit nature of the industry.
Whilst the awards are generally well supported, their worth has often been questioned, and recently Nicholas Pickard – a former reviewer and blogger – questioned whether the cross-section of reviewers featured on the panel was varied enough.
As it stands, four of the seven reviewers are employed by News Limited, whilst two are from Fairfax and just one is from online. Pickard questioned why that pool wasn’t wider and more varied, sparking a scathing attack from Dianna Simmonds on her website, Stage Noise.
“Pickard says we should include more people, such as himself, to join the group. But he misses the point. The Sydney Theatre Reviewers are not obliged to do anything beyond what we already do,” Simmonds said.
“Most importantly, we are not obliged to do anything that we feel might damage the carefully nurtured and jealously guarded credibility of the awards. This credibility is not sought for the benefit of the reviewers, but for those who receive the nominations and ultimately, the awards themselves.”