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Shortlist announced for The Stage Debut Awards 2018

Adrienne Warren as Tina Turner. Photo by Manuel Harlan.

Theatre news

THE shortlist has been announced for The Stage Debut Awards 2018 and nominees include Aidan Turner and Bryan Cranston alongside a selection of the UK’S most outstanding breakthrough talent in theatre.

Alistair Smith, Editor, The Stage said: “After the huge success of The Stage Debut Awards’ first outing in 2017, we’re delighted to reveal another superb shortlist of emerging stars that ranges from first-time playwrights in pub theatres to regional directors and those making their debuts on the biggest West End stages. This list underlines the quite astonishing array of diverse talent breaking through in theatres of all scales and types across the UK.”

Voting also opens for the Joe Allen Best West End Debut Award 2018, the only award voted for by the general public. This award celebrates a first performance in London’s West End.

Votes can be cast online here and voting closes at midnight on September 16, 2018. All award-winners will be announced at the Awards Ceremony on Sunday, September 23, 2018, which will be streamed live on The Stage’s Facebook page.

Mark Shenton, Associate Editor, The Stage, said: “The shortlist for the West End debut award offers an eclectic but electrifying set of contributions, including three Tony Award winning stars (Bryan Cranston, Kelli O’Hara and Adrienne Warren, each of whom made their London debuts in the last year), an actor making his adult West End debut (John McCrea previously appeared in the West End as a child actor) and another who is already a national TV star (Poldark‘s Aidan Turner).

“But the West End is still a destination and a kind of validation for their talents, in which they join other theatrical newcomers to this global showcase like the co-writers of The Jungle and one of its principal actors. The nominating panel acknowledge them all; now it is up to the public to decide the winner.”

Lyn Gardner, Associate Editor, The Stage, added: “I love The Stage Debut Awards. 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.”

Leonard Blavatnik of headline sponsor Access Entertainment, said: “Access Entertainment is thrilled to sponsor The Stage Debut Awards this year, recognising and supporting the rising stars of the theatrical world.”

Aidan Turner (Padraic) in The Lieutenant of Inishmore. Photo by Johan Persson.

The Stage Debut Awards’ 2018 full shortlist:

Best Actress In A Play – Sponsored by Audible

· Kitty Archer for One for Sorrow at the Royal Court, 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

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 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
· 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
· 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
· 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

· 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

Kelli O'Hara (Anna Leonowens) in The King and I. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

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 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.

The inaugural The Stage Debut Awards took place on September 17, 2017. Guests at the awards ceremony included the most influential figures in the performing arts world from Grammy and Olivier Award-winning actress Amber Riley to the director of the National Theatre, Rufus Norris.

Images (from top): Adrienne Warren as Tina Turner. Photo by Manuel Harlan; Aidan Turner (Padraic) in The Lieutenant of Inishmore. Photo by Johan Persson; Kelli O’Hara (Anna Leonowens) in The King and I. Photo by Matthew Murphy.