Last night Theatre Now and Talking Arts were lucky enough to attend the 2016 Rob Guest Endowment Award. A night when six of Australia’s brightest young stars get a chance to compete for $20,000 and this prestigious award. The night was filled with some outstanding talent and the foyer after the show was filled with audience members debating who they thought should have won. A sure sign that we were witnessing some extraordinary talent and that we are going to see a lot of these performers in the future.
Hosted by Lucy Durack and Penny McNamee, the night was filled with performances by the finalists, principal members from Aladdin, the Helpmann Award winning Molly Barwick, Sasha Rose, Georgia Taplin and Bella Thomas who originated the role of Matilda in Australia, past winners Samantha Leigh Dodemaide and Blake Bowden, the 2015 Rob Guest Endowment winner Daniel Assetta, and cast members from Dream Lover – The Bobby Darin Musical. Paulini, glittering in Gold, let loose with a Whitney Houston song that had the audience screaming, confirming that when The Bodyguard opens next year it will be huge.
Having been selected from over 300 auditioners, the finalists performed two songs and a short acting scene in front of the live audience and the judges. This year’s finalists were Du Toit Bredenkamp, Hilary Cole, Linden Furnell, Stefanie Jones, Genevieve Kingsford and Matthew Predny.
Let’s get straight into the announcement… Linden Furnell took home the award and the $20,000 the runners up were each awarded $1,500. Genevieve Kingsford won the Melbourne’s East End Theatre District Artist Development Award, an initiative of Mike Walsh and the Marriner family, and took home $5,000.
The Playbill Future Prospect Award went to Kieran McGrath. This award is a $1,500 cash prize to a semi-finalist who didn’t make the finals but the judges wanted to encourage to return to the competition next year.
The Rob Guest Endowment Technical Award in Honour of Sue Nattrass was awarded to Ash Kurrle and the Rob Guest Endowment Musician Award was won by Emma Ford. Funded by the Capitol Theatre and the Sydney Lyric Theatre, both winners took home a $10,000 cash prize intended to help fund the tuition and experience needed to help them become leaders in their field.
Overall a wonderful night. There is so much talent in Australia right now, we have some great years ahead.
Photos by Robert Catto