Sweet taste of Helpmann success
Helpmann Award winner Verity Hunt-Ballard in Sweet Charity. Picture: Supplied

WA-raised star Lisa McCune has missed out on a musical leading lady Helpmann Award for the fourth time, with the honour instead going to fellow WAAPA-trained performer Verity Hunt-Ballard.

Having previously won best female actor in a musical in 2011 for her performance in Mary Poppins, Hunt-Ballard again scooped up the gong for her turn in Sweet Charity at Australia's peak performing arts awards in Sydney on Monday night.

While McCune has been passed over for the accolade four times since the awards began in 2001, her efforts did not go entirely unnoticed.

Opera Australia and John Frost's production of The King and I, in which the four-time Gold Logie winner stars as Anna, took out top honour of best musical.

The big winner of the night, Opera Australia not only scored six awards for the Ring Cycle but shared an additional three with Frost for The King and I.

WA composer Iain Grandage proved to be the Helpmanns quiet achiever, winning his fifth award for best original score for his work on When Time Stops.

He first won in the same category for Cloudstreet in 2002.

Cate Blanchett was close behind, scoring her fourth gong in the best female actor in a play category for her performance in Sydney Theatre Company's The Maids.

However, the Oscar-winning actress was not on hand to attend the awards, having wrapped up a limited run of the play on Broadway at the weekend.

Big names ruled in the best actor stakes, with Richard Roxburgh winning the play component for Waiting for Godot and Craig McLachlan taking out the musical title for his depiction of Frank n Furter in revamped cult favourite The Rocky Horror Show.

Legendary entertainer and sentimental favourite Reg Livermore also won best male supporting actor in a musical for his role as the Wizard in Wicked.

WAAPA-trained Charmene Yap was best female dancer for her work with the Sydney Dance Company.

The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, of Amsterdam, took out the best symphony orchestra concert award, a visit that was organised through Perth Concert Hall to coincide with the 400-year anniversary of Dirk Hartog's landing.

For the second year in a row, Bruce Springsteen won the best international contemporary concert for his tour with the E Street Band earlier this year.

Noticeably absent from the winner's list was Baz Luhrmann's stage version of Strictly Ballroom.

Despite its seven nominations, it only claimed the best supporting actress in a musical category for Heather Mitchell's portrayal of stage mother Shirley Hastings.

While Luhrmann's wife Catherine Martin was a hot favourite for the best costume design award, having won an Academy Award for her work on The Great Gatsby in March, she was passed up in favour of Roger Kirk's creations for The King and I.

The ceremony, hosted by Jonathan Biggins, was held at Sydney's Capitol Theatre, on the set of The Lion King, a past winner of four Helpmann Awards. The capacity audience saw performances from The Lion King, Les Miserables, Strictly Ballroom and a medley from The King and I with McCune, Teddy Tahu Rhodes and Lou Diamond Phillips.

THE WINNERS

Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role in a Play

Luke Mullins, Waiting for Godot

Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role in a Play

Robyn Nevin, Angels In America

Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical

Reg Livermore, Wicked

Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical

Heather Mitchell, Strictly Ballroom The Musical

Best Costume Design

Roger Kirk, The King and I

Best Scenic Design

Gabriela Tylesova, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

Best Lighting Design

Nick Schlieper, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

Best Sound Design

Michael Waters, The King and I

Best Male Performer in a Supporting Role in an Opera

Warwick Fyfe, The Melbourne Ring Cycle

Best Female Performer in a Supporting Role in an Opera

Jacqueline Dark, The Melbourne Ring Cycle

Best Comedy Performer

Sam Simmons, Sam Simmons - Death Of A Sails-Man

Best Cabaret Performer

Sarah Ward, Yana Alana Between The Cracks

Best International Contemporary Concert

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band 2014

Best Contemporary Music Festival

Bluesfest Byron Bay 2014

Best Australian Contemporary Concert

Hunters & Collectors

Best Choreography in a Dance or Physical Theatre Work

Stephanie Lake, A Small Prometheus

Best Choreography in a Musical

Andrew Hallsworth, Sweet Charity

Best Direction of a Musical

Dean Bryant, Sweet Charity

Best Direction of an Opera

Neil Armfield, The Melbourne Ring Cycle

Best Direction of a Play

Michael Kantor, The Shadow King

Best Male Performer in an Opera

Terje Stensvold, The Melbourne Ring Cycle

Best Female Performer in an Opera

Christine Goerke, Elektra

Best Original Score

Iain Grandage, When Time Stops

Best Individual Classical Music Performance

Julia Lezhneva with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra

Best Chamber and/or Instrumental Ensemble Concert

The Jerusalem Project

Best Symphony Orchestra Concert

Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra

Best Music Direction

Pietari Inkinen, The Melbourne Ring Cycle

Best Regional Touring Production

Jack Charles V The Crown

Best Presentation for Children

Pinocchio

Best New Australian Work

Pinocchio, Rosemary Myers with Julianne O'Brien

Best Visual or Physical Theatre Production

Whelping Box

Best Male Dancer in a Dance or Physical Theatre Work

james Vu Anh Pham, 247 Days

Best Female Dancer in a Dance or Physical Theatre Work

Charmene Yap, 2 in D Minor as part of Interplay

Best Male Actor in a Musical

Craig McLachlan, Richard O'Brien's Rocky Horror Show

Best Female Actor in a Musical

Verity Hunt-Ballard, Sweet Charity

Best Male Actor in a Play

Richard Roxburgh, Waiting For Godot

Best Female Actor in a Play

Cate Blanchett, The Maids

Best Opera

The Melbourne Ring Cycle

Best Play

Angels In America

Best Ballet or Dance Work

Chroma

Best Musical

The King and I

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