The winner of the 2016 Rob Guest Endowment Award was announced last night at a thrilling Grand Final Concert at the Sydney Lyric Theatre. Competing against five other outstanding Semi-Finalists with his performances of Part of the Painting and Moving Too Fast Linden Furnell took out the prestigious award after being chosen by an expert panel of judges, which included Kelley Abbey, Guy Simpson, Andrew Pole and Michael James Scott.
Hosted by Lucy Durack and Penny McNamee, the exciting event, now in its 8th year, featured performances by pop sensation Paulini, 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. The six finalists were Du Toit Bredenkamp, Hilary Cole, Linden Furnell, Stefanie Jones, Genevieve Kingsford and Matthew Predny.
Linden took home $20,000 as the prize, and the runners up were each awarded $1,500. The Melbourne’s East End Theatre District Artist Development Award, an initiative of Mike Walsh and the Marriner family awarding a $5,000 cash prize to a promising young music theatre talent, went to Genevieve Kingsford. The Playbill Future Prospect Award went to Kieran McGrath. This award, generously sponsored by Playbill, 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.
This year saw the return of two categories recognising further excellence in other fields of musical theatre. 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.
The Rob Guest Endowment executive committee, Kellie Dickerson, Stephen Found and Bernadette Hayes, were blown away by the calibre of talent on stage at the Gala Concert. Rob Guest Endowment Patron, John Frost AM, says the Rob Guest Endowment Awards are an incredible legacy. “Rob Guest was an inspiration to all, and a great teacher and mentor to those he worked with,” said Frost.