Broadway hit The Book Of Mormon has swept aside Dame Julie Andrews’ production of My Fair Lady to win best musical at this year’s Helpmann Awards.
Created by the writers behind cult TV animated comedy South Park, The Book of Mormon took out best musical and best direction of a musical at the 17th annual awards announced at Sydney’s Capitol Theatre on Monday night.
The Tony Award-winning musical comedy’s tale about two young Mormon missionaries who are sent on a mission from Salt Lake City to Uganda has proved a hit with audiences around the globe.
It received eight Helpmann nominations, just one short of the nine that went to My Fair Lady, whose leading lady Anna O’Byrne took out the best female actor in a musical.
Directed by Dame Julie, who made her Broadway debut as Eliza Doolittle 60 years ago, the musical’s Robyn Nevin also picked up a gong for best female actor in a supporting role.
Acclaimed Australian actress Leah Purcell’s adaptation of Henry Lawson’s tale The Drover’s Wife collected a string of theatrical awards, including best play, best new work, best direction of a play, and best male actor in a play.
George Frideric Handel’s musical masterpiece Saul picked up the most overall gongs, taking out six categories including best opera.
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds also won best Australian contemporary concert for their emotionally-charged tour in support of the album Skeleton Tree at the start of this year.
2017 Helpmann Awards notable winners
Best Musical: The Book of Mormon
Best Play: Drover’s Wife
Best Ballet: Ballet Preljocaj’s Snow White
Best Dance: Attractor
Best Australian Contemporary Concert: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Best International Contemporary Concert: Patti Smith
Best Comedy Performer: Hannah Gadsby