The nominations for the 2021 Sydney Theatre Awards have been announced, with 44 productions nominated across 28 categories.

Leading the pack is Symphonie Fantastique, produced by Little Eggs Collective in association with KXT, which received seven nominations. Composed and devised by the company as a 50-minute work for the stage, Berlioz’s grand, kaleidoscopic orchestral work is reimagined as a queer theatre work exploring party-culture, psychedelia and violence.

Eryn Jean Norvill in Sydney Theatre Company’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. © Daniel Boud

Six nominations went to the Sydney Theatre Company’s Fun Home and The Picture of Dorian Gray, Bell Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Happy Days from Red Line Productions and Yellow Face, produced by Dinosaurus Productions in association with KXT.

Five nominations went to Jali (Griffin Independent) and the musicals Hamilton (Jeffrey Seller, Sander Jacobs, Jill Furman, The Public Theater and Michael Cassel) and Merrily We Roll Along (Luckiest Productions and Hayes Theatre Co).

The nominees for Best Mainstage Production are Green Park (Griffin Theatre Company), Hamlet (Bell Shakespeare), The Picture of Dorian Gray (Sydney Theatre Company) and seven methods of killing kylie jenner (Darlinghurst Theatre Company and Green Door Theatre Company), with Happy Days (Red Line Productions), Jali (Griffin Independent), Symphonie Fantastique (Little Eggs Collective in association with KXT) and Yellow Face (Dinosaurus Productions in association with KXT) the nominees for Best Independent Production.

Presented annually since 2005, the Sydney Theatre Awards are run by a group of Sydney’s leading theatre critics, including Limelight Editor Jo Litson, Jason Blake (Audrey Journal), Harriet Cunningham (Sydney Morning Herald), Deborah Jones (The Australian), Jade Kops (BroadwayWorld), John McCallum (The Australian), John Shand (Sydney Morning Herald), Cassie Tongue (The Guardian/Sydney Morning Herald) and Suzy Wrong (Suzy Goes See).

Given the chaos and challenges caused by COVID, this year’s awards acknowledge productions that played on Sydney stages in 2020 and 2021, and recognise the resilience and strength of Sydney’s theatre artists in persevering through incredibly difficult times.

This year, separate male and female performance categories have been replaced by gender-neutral awards, and for the first time new judging panels including industry specialists have been introduced for the Independent Theatre categories and the awards for Children and Young People’s Theatre. The Independent Theatre panel comprised Jason Blake, Harriet Cunningham, Bernadette Fam, Imogen Gardam, Sarah Odillo Maher, Dom Mercer, Kenneth Moraleda and Catherine Swallow. The members of the panel for Children and Young People’s theatre were John McCallum, Amy Matthews, Joshua Maxwell, Danielle O’Keefe and Ian Phipps.

“Making theatre in the COVID era has been unimaginably difficult. Artists all over Sydney have, however, demonstrated extraordinary persistence and resilience, bouncing back time and again with productions that have exceeded all expectations,” said Suzy Wrong. “As part of the judging panel, I was frankly surprised and thrilled when we discovered that, even after endless show cancellations, the shortlist of amazing contenders is more than convincing, and we are overjoyed to be able to proceed with this year’s awards.”

“I am proud that this year’s nominees continue to reflect the trend of growing diversity within our industry. In addition to the strong presence of people of colour in many categories, it is noteworthy that all nominations in Best Performance in a Leading Role in a Mainstage Production have gone to magnificent women actors living and working in Sydney.”

Jason Blake added, “Permanent change is the inevitable result of a disruption as great as the one we’ve experienced over the past two years. While much of that change will have been experienced as negative, just as much – and possibly more – will come to be seen as an evolution. Many of those upsides are demonstrated in the lists of nominees this year. Despite the number of productions lost or postponed, we’ve never seen a more diverse group of artists up for nomination, or a range of work as adventurous.”

The winners will be announced at a ceremony on 31 January at the Seymour Centre.

Oliver Twist in Jali. Photograph © Estelle Yoon.


SYDNEY THEATRE AWARDS NOMINATIONS

BEST MAINSTAGE PRODUCTION
Green Park (Griffin Theatre Company)
Hamlet (Bell Shakespeare)
The Picture of Dorian Gray (Sydney Theatre Company)
seven methods of killing kylie jenner (Darlinghurst Theatre Company and Green Door Theatre Company)

BEST INDEPENDENT PRODUCTION
Happy Days (Red Line Productions)
Jali (Griffin Independent)
Symphonie Fantastique (Little Eggs Collective in association with KXT)
Yellow Face (Dinosaurus Productions in association with KXT)

BEST DIRECTION OF A MAINSTAGE PRODUCTION
Peter Evans (Hamlet)
Anne-Louise Sarks (Stop Girl)
Shari Sebbens (seven methods of killing kylie jenner)
Kip Williams (The Picture of Dorian Gray)

BEST DIRECTION OF AN INDEPENDENT PRODUCTION
Shane Anthony (Ulster American)
Craig Baldwin (Happy Days)
Tasnim Hossain (Yellow Face)
Mathew Lee (Symphonie Fantastique)

BEST PERFORMANCE IN A LEADING ROLE IN A MAINSTAGE PRODUCTION
Vivienne Awosoga (seven methods of killing kylie jenner)
Harriet Gordon-Anderson (Hamlet)
Sheridan Harbridge (Stop Girl)
Moreblessing Maturure (seven methods of killing kylie jenner)
Eryn Jean Norvill (The Picture of Dorian Gray)

BEST PERFORMANCE IN A LEADING ROLE IN AN INDEPENDENT PRODUCTION
Belinda Giblin (Happy Days)
Gabrielle Scawthorn (The Apologists)
Eliza Scott (Pollon)
Shan-Ree Tan (Yellow Face)
Oliver Twist (Jali)

BEST PERFORMANCE IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A MAINSTAGE PRODUCTION
Lucy Bell (Appropriate)
Heather Mitchell (Playing Beatie Bow)
Mansoor Noor (Stop Girl)
Aaron Tsindos (No Pay? No Way!)
Anthony Yangoyan (Dogged)

BEST PERFORMANCE IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN AN INDEPENDENT PRODUCTION
Lloyd Allison-Young (The Removalists)
Jonathan Chan (Yellow Face)
Alfie Gledhill (The Removalists)
Lex Marinos (Happy Days)
Suz Mawer (Wil and Grace)

BEST STAGE DESIGN OF A MAINSTAGE PRODUCTION
Alicia Clements (Fun Home)
Elizabeth Gadsby (Appropriate)
Marg Horwell and David Bergman (The Picture of Dorian Gray)
Anna Tregloan (Hamlet)

BEST STAGE DESIGN OF AN INDEPENDENT PRODUCTION
Veronique Benett (Exit the King)
Veronique Benett (Ulster American)
Benjamin Brockman (Symphonie Fantastique)
Charles Davis (Happy Days)

BEST COSTUME DESIGN OF A MAINSTAGE PRODUCTION
Genevieve Blanchett (Home, I’m Darling)
Renée Mulder (Dogged)
Renée Mulder (Playing Beatie Bow)
Anna Tregloan (Hamlet)

BEST COSTUME DESIGN OF AN INDEPENDENT PRODUCTION
Kate Beere (Significant Other)
Aleisa Jelbart (Exit the King)
Aleisa Jelbart (Symphonie Fantastique)
Esther Zhong (Three Fat Virgins Unassembled)

BEST LIGHTING DESIGN OF A MAINSTAGE PRODUCTION
Karen Norris (Sunshine Super Girl)
Nick Schlieper (The Picture of Dorian Gray)
Matt Scott (Fun Home)
Trent Suidgeest (Appropriate)

BEST LIGHTING DESIGN OF AN INDEPENDENT PRODUCTION
Veronique Benett (Happy Days)
Benjamin Brockman (Symphonie Fantastique)
Kelsey Lee (Jali)
Morgan Moroney (Significant Other)

BEST SOUND DESIGN OF A MAINSTAGE PRODUCTION
David Bergman (Green Park)
David Bergman (Playing Beatie Bow)
Max Lyandvert (Hamlet)
Clemence Williams (The Picture of Dorian Gray)

BEST SOUND DESIGN AND COMPOSITION OF AN INDEPENDENT PRODUCTION
Chrysoulla Markoulli (Hot Mess)
Oliver Shermacher (Symphonie Fantastique)
Julian Starr (Hyperdream)
Prema Yin (Yellow Face)

BEST NEW AUSTRALIAN WORK
Dogged (Andrea James and Catherine Ryan)
Jali (Oliver Twist)
Stop Girl (Sally Sara)
The Visitors (Jane Harrison)

BEST NEWCOMER
Kiana Daniele (SIX)
Grace Miell (Jagged Little Pill)
Oliver Twist (Jali)
Tiarne Sue Yek (Merrily We Roll Along)

BEST ENSEMBLE
Come From Away
SIX
Symphonie Fantastique
Yellow Face

BEST PRODUCTION OF A MUSICAL
Come From Away (Junkyard Dog Productions and Rodney Rigby)
Fun Home (Sydney Theatre Company and Melbourne Theatre Company)
Hamilton (Jeffrey Seller, Sander Jacobs, Jill Furman, The Public Theater and Michael Cassel)
Merrily We Roll Along (Luckiest Productions and Hayes Theatre Co)

BEST DIRECTION OF A MUSICAL
To be announced at the ceremony

JUDITH JOHNSON AWARD FOR BEST PERFORMANCE IN A LEADING ROLE IN A MUSICAL
Jason Arrow (Hamilton)
Zoe Gertz (Come From Away)
Lucy Maunder (Fun Home)
Elise McCann (Merrily We Roll Along)
Lyndon Watts (Hamilton)

BEST PERFORMANCE IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A MUSICAL
Marty Alix (Hamilton)
Akina Edmonds (Hamilton)
Georgina Hopson (Merrily We Roll Along)
Maggie McKenna (Fun Home)
Maggie McKenna (Jagged Little Pill)

BEST MUSICAL DIRECTION
Carmel Dean (Fun Home)
Andrew Worboys (Merrily We Roll Along)
Andrew Worboys (Young Frankenstein)

BEST CABARET PRODUCTION
Jacqui Dark Sings Brel (Jacqui Dark)
Stay a While with Weill (Gaye MacFarlane)
Is This All Then? (Philip Quast)

BEST PRODUCTION FOR CHILDREN
The 91-Storey Treehouse (CDP Kids)
Charlie and the War Against the Grannies (Sydney Opera House)
Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge (Sydney Opera House and Australian Chamber Orchestra)
Zombie Thoughts (Riverside’s National Theatre of Parramatta)

BEST PRODUCTION FOR YOUNG PEOPLE
Cusp (ATYP)
Follow Me Home (ATYP)
I’ve Been Meaning to Ask You (ATYP, The Good Room and Riverside Theatres)
Playing Beatie Bow (Sydney Theatre Company)

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
To be announced at the Ceremony


For more information, visit the Sydney Theatre Awards website