Muriel, Bennelong win big at Helpmanns

Bangarra Dance Theatre's landmark production Bennelong and the musical version of the popular Australian film, Muriel's Wedding, have won big on the first night of this year's Helpmann Awards.

For the first time, the showbiz awards are split between two nights with 20 awards for the best creative, designer and supporting roles as well as for best presentation for children and best special event announced on Sunday during Act 1.

Muriel's Wedding The Musical, staged by Sydney Theatre Company and Global Creatures, took home four awards including Best Costume Design for Gabriele Tylesova, Best Music Direction for Isaac Hayward, Best Original Score for Kate Miller-Heidke and Keir Nuttall and Best Choreography in a Musical for Andrew Hallsworth.

Bangarra Dance Theatre also won big for its ambitious work Bennelong.

Head of design Jacob Nash was awarded Best Scenic Design, Nick Schlieper won Best Lighting Design and artistic director Stephen Page took home the award for Best Choreography in a Ballet, Dance, or Physical Theatre Production.

Singer and former Voice Australia contestant Mat Verevis won Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical for his role as Barry Mann in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.

Actor and singer Amy Lehpamer, who played Cynthia Weil in the musical staged by Michael Cassel Group, was awarded Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical.

The jukebox musical's director Marc Bruni also won Best Direction of a Musical.

Hamlet won big in the opera category with director Neil Armfield awarded Best Direction of an Opera and Lorina Gore recognised as Best Female Performer in a Supporting Role in an Opera.

The remaining 23 awards will be presented at The Helpmann Awards Act II on Monday at the Capitol Theatre.

Now in its 18th year, the annual awards ceremony recognises Australia's live performance industry across 43 categories with genres including theatre, music, opera and musicals.