#TLDR: Winners for The Stage Debut Awards include Aidan Turner (The Lieutenant of Inishmore), Amara Okereke (Les Miserables), and Akshay Sharan (The Reluctant Fundamentalist).
The Stage Debut Awards, in association with Access Entertainment, are thrilled to announce the 2018 winners, following the ceremony which took place at 8 Northumberland Avenue on Sunday 23 September, which was also streamed live on The Stage’s Facebook Page.
Poldark actor Aidan Turner won the Joe Allen Best West End Debut Award for his performance in The Lieutenant of Inishmore at the Noël Coward Theatre beating Tina: The Tina Turner Musical star Adrienne Warren, Diversity’s Ashley Banjo and Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston.
Performers and creatives taking home the prestigious awards this year also include: Amara Okereke for her iconic performance in Les Misérables at the Queen’s Theatre, London, where she made history as the first actress of colour to play the role of Cosette; Katy Rudd for her direction of The Almighty Sometimes at Manchester Royal Exchange; Akshay Sharan for his detailed performance in The Reluctant Fundamentalist and The Yard; Gus Gowland for composing a warm and evocative score for Pieces of String at the Mercury Theatre, Colchester; Louis Gaunt for his impressive supporting role in Oklahoma! at Grange Park Opera; Gemma Dobson for her vivacious performance in Rita, Sue and Bob Too which started life at the Octagon Theatre, Bolton; Andrew Thompson for his ambitious script for In Event of Moone Disaster at Theatre 503; and Khadija Raza for, among other work, her stark staging and costumes for Hijabi Monologues at Bush Theatre.
Upon winning the Joe Allen Best West End Debut award, Aidan Turner said: “Thank you to The Stage for this award and thank you to everyone who voted”.
He offered “a special thank you to Michael Grandage, our director, you made it one of the most incredible jobs I’ve ever worked on and to have you at the helm of the ship was a pretty incredible experience”.
Alistair Smith, Editor, The Stage said: “The Stage is delighted to recognise another great roll call of emerging theatrical talent. The winner of the Joe Allen Best West End Debut Award, Aidan Turner, is already known to many for his work on the BBC’s Poldark, but I have no doubt that our other superb winners will go on to achieve great things in theatre and beyond. They are the West End stars, groundbreaking artists and household names of tomorrow and we can’t wait to see what they all do next”.
The Stage Debut Awards celebrate the very best breakthrough talent in theatre, from actors and directors to designers, writers, composers and lyricists, all of whom have made their professional debuts in the past year. These awards are the first of their kind to recognise outstanding emerging talent.
Full winners below:
Best Actress In A Play – Sponsored by Audible
- Kitty Archer for One for Sorrow at the Royal Court, London
- WINNER: 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
Best Actor In A Play – Sponsored by Audible
- Seb Carrington for Summer and Smoke at the Almeida Theatre, London
- WINNER: Akshay Sharan for The Reluctant Fundamentalist at Yard Theatre, London
- Chris Walley for The Lieutenant of Inishmore at the Noël Coward Theatre, London
- Alex Wilson for The Elephant Man at Bristol Old Vic
Best Actor In A Musical – Sponsored by Encore Radio
- Will Carey for It’s Only Life at the Union Theatre, London
- WINNER: Louis Gaunt for Oklahoma! at Grange Park Opera, West Horsley
- Toby Miles for Les Misérables 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
- WINNER: Amara Okereke for Les Misérables at the Queen’s Theatre, London
Best Director – Sponsored by Smith & Williamson
- Iwan Lewis for One Minute at the Barn Theatre, Cirencester
- Alexandra Moxon for Wreck at Nottingham Playhouse
- Oscar Pearce for Great Apes at the Arcola Theatre, London
- WINNER: 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
- WINNER: Khadija Raza for Hijabi Monologues, Spun, and Mixtape, at the Bush Theatre, London, the Arcola Theatre, London and the Royal Exchange, Manchester
- 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 Third Floor Back, Hanna and The Sleeper at Theatre503, London, the Finborough Theatre, London, the Arcola Theatre, London, and Rialto Theatre, Brighton
Best Composer or Lyricist – Sponsored by Trafalgar Entertainment Group
- WINNER: 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
- WINNER: 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
- WINNER: Aidan Turner for The Lieutenant of Inishmore at the Noël Coward Theatre
- Adrienne Warren for Tina: The Tina Turner Musical at the Aldwych Theatre