The Stage Debut awards are back for the second year in a row.
Lyn Gardner, associate editor at the Stage theatre newspaper and website, said: “It feels both genuinely celebratory and useful to recognise people’s talent at the start of their careers… There are plenty of awards which heap praise on the already successful, but the Stage Debut Awards are unique in giving a helping hand to those joining the profession. It has been a privilege to be part of the team helping to select the winners.”
Stage launched the inaugural awards last year to celebrate breakthrough talent from actors, directors, designers, writers, composers, and lyricists who made their professional stage debuts in the preceding year.
The major categories are pretty standard, with nominees from the usual sources. However, three black British artists-on-the-rise have been recognised in nominations across three categories!
In a first for the long-running French Revolution musical Les Miserables, British Nigerian actress Amara Okereke is nominated for Best actress in a musical as Cosette, one of the story’s leading characters, at the Queen’s Theatre, London. She is the first black actress to play the role in the iconic musical’s 33-year West End history! This is a truly impressive achievement, as she joined the cast on 11th June 2018 in her professional debut, fresh from training at Arts Educational Schools, London and The National Youth Music Theatre!
Natasha Gordon is nominated for Best Writer for her debut play Nine Night at the National Theatre, London. Stepping away from her more common incarnation as a versatile theatre and TV actress (Red Velvet, Class, Line of Duty, Doctors, Eastenders, Danny And the Human Zoo, Little Miss Jocelyn), Gordon’s intimate portrayal of an important Caribbean tradition captivated audiences this year in a sold-out run on the South Bank, . The cast featured an almost all-black cast including Franc Ashman, Cecilia Noble, Rebekah Murrell, Oliver Alvin-Wilson, Ricky Fearon, and directed by Roy Alexander Weise. Her achievement was further compounded, as the show was accompanied by the free, touring photographic exhibition How Great Thou Art: Fifty Years of African Caribbean Funerals in London by Charlie Phillips at the Wolfson Gallery, and has since been rewarded with a production transfer to the Trafalgar Studios scheduled for later in 2018!
It is a further tribute to both talents that they are nominated here rather than in the 10-strong debut category, where diversity is more apparent. The Joe Allen Best West End Debut category is up for public vote:
Dramatic powerhouse Michelle Greenidge is nominated for her role as estranged, grieving Jamaican sibling Trudy in Nine Night at the National Theatre, London. She hads gone from strength to strength in the last few years, having appeared in 2016’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe and 2017’s Chichester Festival. Greenidge will return to the stage in a yet-to-be-revealed production from a renowned playwright at an iconic theatre, and then transfer with the production to Trafalgar Studios later this year. She will also reprise her role from British urban feature The Intent in its sequel The Come Up, and appear as a series regular in Ricky Gervais’s new hit TV series Afterlife.
Also nominated in this category is Diversity founder-member, choreographer, artistic director and regular TV pundit Ashley Banjo for his role as the Sultan in lavish pantomime Dick Whittington at the London Palladium, London. The dance troupe itself also featured as his tightly choreographed special advisors.
Tony-winning Broadway star Adrienne Warren is also nominated for her critically acclaimed West End debut as the formidable Tina Turner in the hit musical Tina: The Tina Turner Musical at the Aldwych Theatre.
Cast your vote here.
See full nominations here:
Best actress in a play – Sponsored by Audible
Kitty Archer for One for Sorrow at the Royal Court Theatre, London | Gemma Dobson for Rita, Sue and Bob Too at the Octagon Theatre, Bolton | Lorna Fitzgerald for The Shadow Factory at NST City, Southampton | Grainne O’Mahony for The Elephant Man at Bristol Old Vic Theatre
Best actor in a play – Sponsored by Audible
Seb Carrington for Summer and Smoke at the Almeida Theatre, London | Akshay Sharan for The Reluctant Fundamentalist at the Yard Theatre, London | Chris Walley for The Lieutenant of Inishmore at the Noel Coward Theatre, London | Alex Wilson for The Elephant Man at Bristol Old Vic Theatre
Best actor in a musical – Sponsored by Encore Radio
Will Carey for It’s Only Life at the Union Theatre, London | Louis Gaunt for Oklahoma! at Grange Park Opera, West Horsley | Toby Miles for Les Miserables at the Queen’s Theatre, London | Simon Oskarsson for Return to the Forbidden Planet at Upstairs at the Gatehouse, London
Best actress in a musical – Sponsored by R&H Theatricals Europe
Teleri Hughes for Spring Awakening at the Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester | Eleanor Kane for Fun Home at the Young Vic, London | Rebecca Mendoza for Hairspray, on tour | Amara Okereke for Les Miserables at the Queen’s Theatre, London
Best director – Sponsored by Smith and Williamson
Iwan Lewis for One Minute at the Barn, Cirencester | Alexandra Moxon for Wreck at Nottingham Playhouse | Oscar Pearce for Great Apes at the Arcola Theatre, London | Katy Rudd for The Almighty Sometimes at the Royal Exchange, Manchester
Best designer – Sponsored by Robe Lighting
Basia Binkowska for Devil With the Blue Dress at the Bunker Theatre, London | Khadija Raza for Hijabi Monologues, Spun, and Mixtape, at the Bush Theatre, London, the Arcola Theatre, London and the Royal Exchange, Manchester respectively | Fin Redshaw for Pieces of String and Love Me Now at the Mercury Theatre, Colchester and the Tristan Bates Theatre, London | Jasmine Swan for Hyem, The Passing of the Third Floor Back, Hanna, and The Sleeper at Theatre503, London, the Finborough Theatre, London, the Arcola Theatre, London, and Brighton Rialto respectively
Best composer – Sponsored by Trafalgar Entertainment Group
Gus Gowland for Pieces of String at the Mercury Theatre, Colchester | Kate Marlais for Abandon at the Lyric Hammersmith, London | Matt Winkworth for The Assassination of Katie Hopkins at Theatr Clwyd, Mold
Best writer – Sponsored by InterTalent Rights Group
Georgia Christou for Yous Two at Hampstead Theatre, London | Kendall Feaver for The Almighty Sometimes at the Royal Exchange, Manchester | Natasha Gordon for Nine Night at the National Theatre, London | Andrew Thompson for In Event of Moone Disaster at Theatre503, London | Joe White for Mayfly at the Orange Tree Theatre, London
The Joe Allen Best West End Debut
Mohammad Amiri for The Jungle at the Playhouse Theatre | Ashley Banjo for Dick Whittington at the London Palladium | Bryan Cranston for Network at the National Theatre | Michelle Greenidge for Nine Night at the National Theatre | John McCrea for Everybody’s Talking About Jamie at the Apollo Theatre | Kelli O’Hara for The King and I at the London Palladium | Joe Robertson and Joe Murphy for The Jungle at the Playhouse Theatre | Lucie Shorthouse for Everybody’s Talking About Jamie at the Apollo Theatre | Aidan Turner for The Lieutenant of Inishmore at the Noel Coward Theatre | Adrienne Warren for Tina: The Tina Turner Musical at the Aldwych Theatre
The winners will be announced at the ceremony on September 23, 2018.
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