Best of Sydney

Best Arts and Entertainment

Best Fringe Theatre: Darlinghurst Theatre Company *READER PICK*
Darlinghurst Theatre Company is one of the country’s leading producers of independent theatre, presenting a diverse program of new, innovative Australian and international plays to Sydney audiences. Offering one of the most relaxed and enjoyable Sydney theatre experiences, the large foyer has a licensed bar, plush seats and a balcony, and every seat is a good one in this intimate 111-seat theatre.
19 Greenknowe Ave, Potts Point (02) 9331 3107 AG

Best 300 Plus Seat Venue: The Studio, Sydney Opera House *READER PICK*
The cosy red confines of The Studio is seen by many of you as the perfect place to see and hear the best in left-of-center entertainment with world class acoustics and comfortable seats. Plus, on some nights, they even put a bar inside the venue, for a club experience with the added bonus of a clean floor you can sit on! Despite it’s art centre vibe it manages to carve out a role as the black sheep of the big white shells ‘ bringing the strange, the spectacular and the truly talented to its stage.
Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point (02) 9250 7777 JM

Best Dance Performance Venue: CarriageWorks *READER PICK*
This one’s a no-brainer. From Channel 10’s Dancing With The Stars to the best small local dance troupes, this huge converted rail yard space in Eveleigh is leading the way in Sydney’s dance scene. Sydney Dance Company turned to CarriageWorks for it’s current 360°, a sexy production from the Barcelona-Born, London-based choreographer Rafael Bonachela, and coming up at PerformaceSpace are a series of great local dance and physical theatre productions.
245 Wilson St, Eveleigh (1300) 136 166 AG

Best Spoken Word Venue: The Friend in Hand Hotel *READER PICK*
Poetry and alcohol have always mixed well, and Glebe’s Friend in Hand Hotel is the undisputed home of Sydney spoken word. Every first Tuesday of the month, budding poets, spoken word artists and rhyme slingers come out of the woodwork to compete in the open mic and poetry slam. With occasional performers like Tug Dumbly, Miles Merrill, Edwina Blush, Morganics and Thomas, Jack of Hearts, the ‘Word in Hand’ is well worth a visit. Be warned, you will be asked to reach into your own pocket for a donation to the value of $5 or $10.
58 Cowper St, Glebe (02) 9660 2326 LJ

Best Music Hall: The Factory *READER PICK*
Sydney really needed The Factory. A courageous mid-sized venue that’s willing to take risks on programming the quirky (like Coco Rosie), the difficult (like The Brian Jonestown Massacre) and the musical stuff that just wouldn’t fit anywhere else (like The Sound of Failure Sound Art Festival coming up on the 30th August, 2008). Part of the ever expanding Century Venues empire, which also includes the legendary Enmore Theatre and The Metro, these guys provide a home for niche markets and subcultures that you’ve probably never heard of’ yet.
105 Victoria Road, Enmore (02) 9550 3666 JM

Best Cinema: Dendy Opera Quays *READER PICK*
While many of our readers and our editorial team like to head to Chauvel in Paddington (an important community based cinema that supports local, independent and alternative film), it seems like the rest of you can be found at Dendy Opera Quays under the toaster! Ah well a touch of luxury is nice, and this is a swish art-house cinema, with some of Sydney’s big hitting names in the restaurant scene within an easy walk. Sounds like a plan for a good night out!
Shop 9, 2 East Circular Quay, Sydney (02) 9247 3800 JM

Best Theatre in a Bar: Old Fitzroy *READER PICK*
Founded over a century ago, this old-fashioned Woolloomooloo pub has a cosy theatre space downstairs that hosts a diverse range of performances. They are famed for their Laksa dishes, which you can usually get at a discounted price combined with a theatre ticket. For something different try their late night time slots ‘ reserved for more experimental live entertainment.
129 Dowling St (Cnr Cathedral), Woolloomooloo (02) 9356 3848 AG

Best Bar in a Theatre: The Belvoir *READER PICK*
Since their major refurbishments in 2006, the Belvoir has become one of the most sociable theatre spaces in town. Their bar has a good rotating menu including pastas, salads, soups and ice-creams, and a well-rounded wine list. The foyer includes lounges, bar tables and stools and plenty of standing room so you can drink and maunder pre-show, post-show and all the way through interval.
25 Belvoir St, Surry Hills (02) 9699 3444 AG

Best Art Gallery (under $5000): Tap Gallery *READER PICK*
With a theatre and a café as well as the gallery, the TAP is an artist-run collective that opens its’ space to grass-roots exhibitions. From huge glistening works of resin and steel to more traditional canvas paintings and glass and clay sculptures this should be on everyone’s gallery-crawl list. They host a diverse array of events which are also worth looking into ‘ perhaps you’d enjoy a medieval banquet, film night or their popular sketch club’
Level 1, 278 Palmer St, Darlinghurst (02) 9361 0440 CP

Best Art Gallery (over $5000): Anna Schwartz *EDITORIAL PICK*
Melbourne art consultant and gallery director Anna Schwartz chose CarriageWorks, the rail yard come multipurpose contemporary arts centre, to open her Sydney gallery. The inaugural exhibition, Milk, is showcasing film stills from controversial Australian performance artist Mike Parr ‘ coinciding with his video pieces currently at Cockatoo Island for the 2008 Biennale. A cavernous space with soaring ceilings and a raw, industrial look ‘ this new gallery is one to watch for cutting edge exhibitions.
245 Wilson St, Eveleigh (02) 8580 7002 AG

Best Museum: Museum of Contemporary Art *READER PICK*
The free entry policy makes the Museum of Contemporary Art somewhere you can always afford to go (selected special exhibitions may have an entry fee). We’re sure that this is only one of the reasons that it romped home as the winner of this category. For Ellen, it has ‘an incredible location, with beautiful architecture, free admission and a diverse range of the latest and greatest pieces of modern art from both foreign and home-grown artists.’ Plus, if taking in all that innovative art makes you a tad peckish, the MCA Café can be relied upon for some top quality modern Australian/Asian cuisine ‘ they’re open for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea. Currently, the MCA is the major venue sponsor of the 2008 Biennale of Sydney, with a free exhibition running until the 7th September, 2008.
140 George St, The Rocks (02) 9245 2400 JM

Best Comedy Venue: The Roxbury Hotel *READER PICK*
While the nearby Harold Park Hotel was being rebuilt, and with the demise of the Comedy Store, The Roxbury has emerged as Sydney’s best local comedy venue. For the last two years, the Comedy on the Rox has hosted Wednesday’s Quest for the Best, a gruelling open-mic comp where contestants get 5 minutes to impress audiences for the chance to win $5000. Last Saturday of the month is Red Card Comedy, and they’ve just started Fifteen Dollar Fridays. Seriously. You can also find our readers clocking up the
182 St. Johns Rd, Glebe (02) 9692 0822 LJ

Best Local Band: Beau Monde *EDITORIAL PICK*
Our readers came up with a number of excellent local bands including Sneaky Sound System and You Am I. But since there was no clear winner, we’re going with the band that keeps our editorial team rockin’! Watching four-piece girl rockers Beau Monde perform live, you get the feeling they are on the verge of something big. Led by uber-frontwoman Nancy Vice ‘ with the voice of Gwen Stefani and the stage presence of Janice Joplin ‘ they belt out their dirty glam power-pop with the poise of seasoned professionals. It’s tight, fun and sexy as hell. Catch them before they get famous! LJ

Best Spoken Word Artist: Miles Merrill *READER PICK*
Whilst the winner is Miles Merrill, we also got a lot of votes for the long-suffering, hard-working Tug Dumbly ‘ we love you too, Tug. The winner, Miles Merrill is on a mission: to wake Australians up to the power of spoken word. As producer of the Night Words Festival and the online Sharpie Poetry Slam, and a regular at the Word in Hand, he believes strongly in poetry as a force for change. In 2007 he organised the National Poetry Slam, and he regularly tours schools, festivals and theatres encouraging people to write their own stories. He says: ‘I think it’s amazing what just one person on stage can stimulate with a mic and their own words.’ Hear more of his words at: LJ

Best Local DJ: DJ Sveta *READER PICK*
It was touch and go there for a while between Mark Dynamix and the eventual winner of this category, DJ Sveta ‘ both are clearly popular DJs in the Sydney scene. I asked Sveta about the best bits of being a DJ: ‘I love being a voyeur and watching people. I get to play across more diverse communities than any other DJ I know. From the art world to the various queer communities to the fashion world to the fetish world and every one in between. Socially, I’m a bit agoraphobic but I love to be amongst everyone in the safe confines of my DJ booth.’ On the horizon for Sveta is Hellfire Afloat, a naughty-cal harbour cruise for kinky types on September 06th, Alex Perry’s Winter Fashion Parade on September 9th and she’s planning to be in Lismore for the Tropical Fruits NYE party. As far as gigs go, Sveta tells me: ‘I enjoy being a guest at the Hellfire club and I’m also fiercely loyal to Mardi Gras” To find where she’s playing next: JM

Best Local Actor: Toby Schmitz *EDITORIAL PICK*
He gave a brilliantly unnerving depiction of the young alcoholic/drug addict in Belvoir’s B Sharp production of Ruben Guthrie this year, and was able to make it very funny. In Sydney Theatre Company’s The Great (also this year) he was similarly arrogant and hilarious – though a lot more twisted – as Catherine The Great’s psychotic husband. Catch him in the new release feature film Three Blind Mice. Besides acting, this NIDA graduate also works as a theatre writer and director, making him one of the busiest guys is the industry. AG

Best Local Muso: Leeroy Lee
When this quietly spoken Sydney lad supported Miss Higgins on tour last year he sold a record number of his hastily pressed, yet to be released, Paper Sleeve EP at the gigs. His modest surprise at being asked to autograph said EP will have to be overcome as recognition is becoming more common-place. An album is imminent ‘ we hope! Stay Get the low-down here: CP

Best Local Filmmaker: Wayne Blair *READER PICK*
On stage, he’s witty with natural warmth. These characteristics are also present in his work as an indigenous filmmaker, writer and director. His first short drama was the winner of the Dendy Award for Best Film back in 2002. The Djarn Djarns is a short film that has roots in his own history as a dancer at Rockhampton’s Dreamtime Cultural Centre during his teens. It screened at The Sydney Opera House as part of their Message Sticks Film Festival in 2005. Presently, he’s the Artistic Associate of Belvoir Street Theatre, so we certainly understand why you all voted for him to win! JM

Best Local Performer: Christa Hughes *EDITORIAL PICK*
From solo shows like Beer Drinking Woman (which graced one of City Hub’s first ever covers) to years on stage as K.K. Juggy with Machine Gun Fellatio to her recent starring role in the cult Aussie film The Eternity Man, Christa Hughes is an old-school all-rounder. Daughter of jazz piano great Dick Hughes (who she’ll performing with in the upcoming Spiegeltent season at The Sydney Opera House) she can be seen belting out twisted takes on the standards at anywhere from Gurlesque to Circus Oz to The Hellfire Club. JM

Best Local Producer: Sam La More *EDITORIAL PICK*
Sam (aka Sam Littlemore) has been around the scene for almost a decade, DJing, producing and mixing up a very impressive portfolio. He’s worked with everyone from Darren Emerson (Underworld) to Robbie Williams and Gwen ‘What you waiting for” Stefani. He’s also worked with hometown heroes Sneaky Sound System, Tonight Only and Pnau. Electro pop is his signature dish, and his influence is all over the new Pnau album, which he co-wrote with brother Nick, and Peter Moyes. Check out his Ministry of Sound Clubbers Guide to 2008 or LJ

Best Comedian: Anh Do *READER PICK*
Anh Do is a veteran of the Australian stand-up comedy circuit, having played all the major venues in Australia & New Zealand many times over. He is Vietnamese by birth, and arrived in Australia after surviving a harrowing journey in an 8.5 meter fishing boat with 45 other refugees. He’s been named ‘Sydney Comedian of the Year’, and he’s even been on TV! You might have caught him on shows including ‘Rove’, ‘The Footy Show’ and as the runner up on ‘Dancing With The Stars’. We thought he should have won, and apparently you’re all pretty keen on him too, voting him Best Comedian.
(02) 9560 0600 JM

Best Indie Music Label: Inertia *READER PICK*
Originally conceived at the beginning of the millennium as a distributor of overseas music not otherwise locally available, Inertia have not only opened local ears to the vast wealth of gorgeous sounds from around the globe, but more recently having established their own labels ‘ Inertia, Rogue, Pod and Pattern ‘ to record and release local and overseas artists. Ben Lee, Bon Iver, Gersey, Alela Diane, Lambchop, Malcolm Middleton, Múm and UNKLE are but a few who grace their stable.
PO Box 84, Surry Hills NSW 2010 (02) 9698 0111 CP

Best Local Author: Vanessa Berry *EDITORIAL PICK*
A queen of underground publishing, Vanessa has been putting out her own zines for many years. Her specialty is details, and she captures the everyday with wit, humour and humanity. Her first book, Strawberry Hills Forever, came out last year ‘ comprised of new short stories and parts from her running zines I am a Camera and Laughter and the Sounds of Teacups. It includes her love of op shops, her fascination with the old milkbar on Paramatta road, and the time she dressed up as a rabbit for a day. For more information and to get hold of her zines check out: AG