Two of the community’s favourite performers won major awards at the second annual Helpmann Awards, held last Monday night at the Showroom of Star City casino. Paul Capsis (pictured) won the award for Best Live Music Presentation for his cabaret show Capsis Vs Capsis and Judi Connelli won Best Female Actor in a Musical for her performance as Mrs Lovett in the Opera Australia production of Sweeney Todd.

The Helpmann Awards were first held in 2001, created in honour of the late ballet star and actor Sir Robert Helpmann. The goals of the awards include promoting and enhancing awareness of the Australian performing arts and recognising and celebrating Australian talent and innovation.

Paul Capsis told Sydney Star Observer that he was incredibly surprised and absolutely thrilled to win the award. It’s like Nicole Kidman, said Capsis, it’s great to be nominated, it doesn’t matter if I don’t win, it’s winning already.

Capsis Vs Capsis was rehearsed over a ten-day period, just after Capsis had returned from working with director Barrie Kosky in Vienna. I was under a lot of pressure, said Capsis, who added that the awards were important for Australia.

I think it’s about time we had, finally, in this country, an award that acknowledges live performance across the board -¦ Especially because Aus-tralia is so sports-orientated. We need a healthy balance, we desperately need that in this country -¦ We need to have a culture, said Capsis.

Other awards were presented to John Bell for Best Male Actor in a Play (Richard III), Amanda Muggleton for Best Female Actor in a Play (Masterclass) and Peter Coleman-Wright won Best Actor in a Musical for playing the title role in Sweeney Todd. Cloudstreet took the honours for Best Play, with Mamma Mia! winning Best Musical.

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