The winner of the 2015 Rob Guest Endowment Award was announced last night at a glamorous Grand Final Concert at the Sydney Lyric Theatre. Competing against five other outstanding Semi-Finalists with his performance of Goodbye and Memphis Lives in Me, Daniel Assetta took out the prestigious award after being chosen by an expert panel of judges, which included Kelley Abbey, Peter Casey and Gale Edwards.
Presented by the NSW Government’s tourism and major events agency Destination NSW and hosted by David Campbell and Lucy Durack, the exciting event, now in its 7th year, featured performances by Rob Mills, Caroline O’Connor, Jemma Rix, Mark Vincent, the 2014 winner Joshua Robson, as well as cast members from CATS and Matilda the Musical. The six finalists were Blake Appelqvist, Daniel Assetta, Hilary Cole, Georgina Hopson, Robert McDougall and Ashleigh Rubenach.
Daniel 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 Robert McDougall. The Playbill Future Prospect Award went to Rubin Matters. 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 Drew Cipollone and the Rob Guest Endowment Musician Award was won by Jack Earl. 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.
NSW Minister for Trade, Tourism and Major Events Stuart Ayres said, “As Australia’s home of first-run musicals and live performance, Sydney is the perfect host for the Rob Guest Endowment and the NSW Government is very proud to support this event through our tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW. This year’s winners have proven to be outstanding rising stars in musical theatre and I congratulate them on this prestigious achievement and have no doubt we’ll see them gracing the stage for years to come.”
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.