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Sydney Theatre Awards 2008

It was alright on the night

Sydney Theatre Awards 2008

By Diana Simmonds

Theatre was the winner on the night, while the aircon at Paddo RSL came a very distant last. But neither the heat nor the absence of key prize collectors could stuff up a lovely event - the 2008 Sydney Theatre Awards. Which would have been warm anyway, on account of the generosity of spirit and grace of guests, winners and nominees.

The Sydney Theatre Company's Women of Troy was the most rewarded production of the year with director Barrie Kosky winning Best Director, the production was named Best Mainstage Production, its leading lady Robyn Nevin won Best Actress (over co-nominee Melita Jurisic) and David Gilfillan's score and sound also scored.

With Kosky absent - performing The Tell-tale Heart at Carriageworks - Nevin in the US, and Tess Schofield (winner of Best Costumes for The Great) in Melbourne - STC reps Andrew Upton and Rob Brookman had a cartload of swag to take back to the Wharf. As well as the framed certificates, each winner (and guest presenters and artistes) were presented with a gift-bag from sponsor Industrie containing a limited edition STA-Industrie t-shirt, a travel bag and a bottle of good red or cool white.

Best newcomer Yael Stone received $500 and three years' entry into Showcast and as a consequence was rendered temporarily speechless. The Awards' other sponsor, the Seaborn Broughton and Walford Foundation was also warmly applauded by the audience and appreciative STA reviewers for the foresight shown in underwriting the event for the foreseeable future.

The audience of 350 of Sydney theatre's finest plus friends, families and one disgruntled producer enjoyed a sparkling range of entertainment from across the age spectrum. The show opened with gorgeous Stephen Mahy introducing his "Beautiful Girls" (Maggie Blinco, Nancye Hayes, Toni Lamond, Donna Lee and Geraldine Turner) who turned on a scintillating, hilarious and rousing specially written version "I'm Still Here".

The creatives and cast of LoveBites (pictured here) recaptured the glory and pathos, not to mention the humour and tragedy, of "The Ballad of Annie Pluck" This tale of first date horror may be urban legend but the groans around the auditorium suggested recognition from many in the audience.

Among the most popular awards on the night were Lifetime Achievement, that went to two of the finest, Toni Lamond and Nancye Hayes. Miss Lamond's immensely popular and talented son Tony Sheldon finally got his just desserts with Best Performer in a Musical, as well as collecting the Best Musical award - for Priscilla Queen of the Desert - just days before he leaves for London and the West End production of the show.

Bringing the show to an electrifying close, Kay Tuckerman proved that the next generation of "Beautiful Girls" is - as Nancye Hayes observed "in good hands" - and so say all of us.

Many thanks for images used here to Jason Catlett.

WINNERS OF 2008 SYDNEY THEATRE AWARDS

BEST MAINSTAGE PRODUCTION: The Women of Troy (Sydney Theatre Company)

BEST INDEPENDENT PRODUCTION: My Name is Rachel Corrie (Bareboards Productions and B Sharp) Producer Ben Jobberns collected the award.

BEST DIRECTION: Barrie Kosky (The Women of Troy)

BEST ACTRESS IN A LEAD ROLE: Robyn Nevin (The Women of Troy)

BEST ACTOR IN A LEAD ROLE: Trevor Jamieson (Ngapartji Ngapartji)

BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE: Yael Stone (The Kid)

BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE: Christopher Stollery (Killer Joe)

BEST NEW AUSTRALIAN WORK: Damien Millar (The Modern International Dead)

BEST NEWCOMER: Yael Stone (The Kid + Frankenstein)

BEST SET DESIGN: Alexandra Sommer and Bradley Clark (All the Blood and All the Water)

BEST COSTUME DESIGN: Tess Schofield (The Great)

BEST LIGHTING DESIGN: Nick Schlieper (The Serpent's Teeth)

BEST SCORE OR SOUND DESIGN: David Gilfillan (The Women of Troy)

BEST PRODUCTION OF A MUSICAL: Priscilla Queen of the Desert The Musical (Back Row Productions, Specific Films, Alan Scott, John Frost and Chugg Entertainment)

JUDITH JOHNSON AWARD FOR BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL: Michelle Doake (The Hatpin)

JUDITH JOHNSON AWARD FOR BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A MUSICAL: Tony Sheldon (Priscilla Queen of the Desert The Musical)

BEST CABARET PRODUCTION: The Kransky Sisters (Sydney Opera House Studio)

BEST PRODUCTION FOR CHILDREN: Just Macbeth (Bell Shakespeare)

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: Nancye Hayes and Toni Lamond

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