The Stage Awards Previous Years



The Stage Awards – previous winners

The Stage Awards 2017 winners

Regional Theatre of the Year sponsored by Evolution Productions
Winner: Sheffield Theatres

A stellar 2016 for Sheffield Theatres – outgoing artistic director Daniel Evans’ final at the helm – saw it win five categories at this year’s UK Theatre Awards, including the best musical award for both for Flowers for Mrs Harris and Show Boat.

The former demonstrated the venue’s commitment to smaller, less-commercial musical projects, while the latter – which went on to enjoy a West End run – showed how well the theatre interprets big, classic shows. Both were directed by Evans, who left the venue in 2016 having cemented its reputation as one of the go-to regional theatres, with a compelling programme of work that speaks to local audiences but has the potential to attract theatregoers from across the UK.

The venue also commissioned a play from Richard Bean about snooker, called The Nap. It’s not the most obvious subject for a play, but it demonstrates the theatre’s commitment to bold choices and taking risks, and was an appropriate theme for a venue that hosts the snooker World Championship.

Sheffield Theatres’ scheme Live for Five means people aged 16 to 25 can access the theatre’s shows for just £5. And new artistic director Robert Hastie has vowed to continue with this policy of making theatre that is accessible, as he introduces an initiative to give every student studying drama in the city a free ticket to shows in the Crucible.

The judges were impressed by Sheffield’s smart programming, which last year concluded with a crowd-pleasing Annie Get Your Gun, starring Anna-Jane Casey.

Also shortlisted
Bristol Old Vic
Mercury Theatre, Colchester

London Theatre of the Year sponsored by Managed Networks
Winner: Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

Regent’s Park was on flying form last year, staging some of the most talked about work of the year.

Its 2016 summer season opened with the truly charming Running Wild, staged in London after originating as a youth theatre production at Chichester Festival Theatre. A children’s show by nature, but, like War Horse, the combination of Michael Morpurgo’s story and impressive puppetry elevated the production to a universal hit. It was a natty piece of programming by artistic director Timothy Sheader, which was followed by the bold, thumping Henry V, starring Michelle Terry as the eponymous king.

It was almost impossible to imagine the theatre staging Shakespeare in this way before Sheader took over in 2007, and is testament to the shift in programming he has brought about at this unfunded seasonal venue. Its line-up included Pride and Prejudice, which will return for a tour next year.

However, without a doubt its crowning glory was Sheader’s superlative revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar. A sold-out smash hit at the box office and lauded by critics, it placed Regent’s Park firmly at the heart of the London producing scene and topped a remarkable 2016 for this unique venue.

Also shortlisted
Menier Chocolate Factory
The Old Vic

Fringe Theatre of the Year sponsored by
Winner: New Diorama Theatre

The New Diorama does more than most fringe theatres to develop and support both emerging and established theatremakers. It has pioneered a number of new initiatives designed to help artists find their feet in the industry, addressing the practical and financial issues that young companies face.

Foremost amid several innovative schemes was Cash Flow Fund, an interest-free loan scheme for emerging theatre companies to help them deal with otherwise-prohibitive upfront costs. Artistic director David Byrne describes this as a “cooperative bank for theatre companies” and, since its launch this year, around £50,000 has been loaned out as part of the scheme.

The theatre, based near London Euston station, is addressing diversity in novel ways and, through a partnership with Diorama Arts Studios, provides free rehearsal space for black, Asian, minority ethnic and refugee-led theatre companies. Last year it announced a strand of artist development for comedy, an area sometimes overlooked by development schemes.

Last year, the 80-seat venue played host to the third Incoming festival of new work by emerging companies, produced by A Younger Theatre, and it continues to programme intelligently and creatively, with a series of well-received productions by companies including Rhum and Clay, Box of Tricks and Kandinsky. It won the 2016 Empty Space Peter Brook Award for “creating a vital hub for established and emerging theatre companies” and is currently showcasing new work by emerging companies in Hull as part of the UK City of Culture.

Also shortlisted
Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester
Hope Theatre, London

Theatre Building of the Year sponsored by Audience Systems
Winner: King’s Cross Theatre

This is the second nomination in as many years for the King’s Cross Theatre, which began life as a single tent in unused space near King’s Cross Station in London.

Created specifically for The Railway Children, which would later share the space with In the Heights, the first venue at King’s Cross is both a 1,000-seat space and a 500-seat space depending on the configuration.

The judges commended the theatre for disrupting the traditional model for a commercial theatre in London, and for moving focus away from the West End. It continued to do that, and more, last year, with two additions to the area that have proved innovative and exciting, both in the programming and design.

The Donmar Warehouse decamped to King’s Cross for its all-female Shakespeare trilogy, while much-talked-about David Bowie musical Lazarus moved into a second new theatre space.

The life of this veritable theatre village is now coming to an end, as the land will shortly be reclaimed by Google for its new London offices. However, it’s unlikely to be the end for the King’s Cross Theatre team, who have vowed to continue the project.

In its short life span, the King’s Cross Theatre has breathed new life into London theatre and its influence must not be understated – it has truly amplified the possibilities of how and where producers and venues can stage work.

Also shortlisted
Royal Court, Liverpool
Tara Theatre, London

Producer of the Year sponsored by PRG XL Video
Winner: Sonia Friedman Productions

Sonia Friedman is a two-time winner of this category. Friedman defended her title in some style in 2016, producing indisputably the biggest opening of the year: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Her masterstroke has been making it a genuine extension of the Potter narrative, with a new story, rather than a straightforward page-to-stage adaptation. The show has been a monster hit as well as a critical triumph and looks set to join the ranks of West End long-runners such as The Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables.

That show alone would probably have been enough to secure her nomination on the shortlist, but – never one to rest on her laurels – Friedman has also been behind one of 2016’s biggest musical openings – the West End premiere of Dreamgirls – as well as Nice Fish starring Mark Rylance, Funny Girl with Sheridan Smith (in the West End and soon to tour), Kinks musical Sunny Afternoon, Bend It Like Beckham, the tour of King Charles III and the ongoing London production of The Book of Mormon.

One of the few producers to straddle musical theatre and plays and to boast as strong a reputation for artistic taste as commercial acumen, her output – both in volume and quality – is extraordinary.

Friedman’s achievements led to her topping The Stage 100 earlier this year, becoming only the second woman to top our industry power list as a solo entry.

Also shortlisted
Fiery Angel
Kenny Wax Productions

School of the Year sponsored by TodayTix
Winner: Musical Theatre Academy

London-based Musical Theatre Academy won in this category in 2012, with its fast-track musical theatre programme slicing a year off students’ training and getting them ‘industry ready’ in two years rather than three.

Since then, the academy has continued its work providing professional musical theatre training – with the judges noting its graduates now regularly feature in top professional productions – alongside a robust pastoral care package.

In 2016, however, the academy took an admirable step in tackling the issue of mental health among performers by creating the #time4change charter. A total of 112 organisations, including other drama schools, have already signed up.

In outlining the actions that can be taken on a day-to-day basis to make mental health and well-being a priority, MTA is nailing its colours to the mast when it comes to one of the most under-discussed issues both within the industry and on a broader societal level. It has also pledged to help people access to the help and support they need when necessary. Fact sheets and explanations of causes and effects that may impact an individual’s mental health and well-being are set out as part of the charter as well as information of where help can be sought.

The judges felt that, aside from its growing influence within the training sector, MTA’s spearheading of such a vital project as #time4change warranted recognition.

Also shortlisted
Urdang Academy
Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama

International Award sponsored by the Ambassador Theatre Group
Winner: Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures

Matthew Bourne’s company, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, has long been a regular feature across the UK, but in the past decade or so Bourne’s commitment to touring has strengthened further with his work being taken more frequently across the globe.

The universal appeal of Bourne’s work lends itself well to international touring, and 2016 was a remarkable year for it. New Adventures’ Sleeping Beauty undertook a mammoth tour to Asia, visiting Seoul, Singapore, Beijing, Tokyo and Shanghai and reached an audience of more than 70,000. Not only this, but New Adventures has undergone a step-change in the way it engages with foreign audiences. Audience engagement was boosted on the Asian tour, and Re:Bourne – the company’s charitable arm – delivered workshops and masterclasses in each city. New strategic relationships were formed between New Adventures and companies in Asia, and the company enhanced its profile in the region and flew the flag for British culture abroad.

Last year, Bourne premiered his 12th full-length production, The Red Shoes, and was knighted for his services to dance. So it is all the more commendable that New Adventures continues to nurture its work in new territories and bring Bourne’s dance to new audiences.

Also shortlisted
Big in Belgium
Graeae Theatre Company

Sustainability Award sponsored by Global Design Solutions
Winner: Tara Theatre

Theatre company Tara Arts opened new premises last year – a £2.5 million remodelling of its Earlsfield home that had an impressive focus on sustainability. All front of house and ancillary lighting is LED and recycled materials have been used wherever possible.

The building has two ‘green’ roofs with 16 solar panels, which are predicted to supply about 40% of the building’s electricity requirements. Reclaimed materials are used throughout, including antique doors from India.

There is also an earth stage floor, while the seating is recycled from the Courtyard Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company’s former temporary home.

The judges agreed that the new building for Tara Arts showed what is possible when it comes to sustainable practices and felt that the building offers an example for other new-building projects.

Also shortlisted
London Theatre Consortium
The Handlebards

Innovation Award sponsored by Charcoalblue
Winner: Complicite

It’s not often that sound design takes centre stage, yet when Complicite decided to rewrite Petru Popescu’s Amazon Beaming for the theatre, it was – in the words of sound designer Gareth Fry – “not the sort of story you can put on in the typical fashion”.

Since the Royal Shakespeare Company put a holographic ‘actor’ on stage last year, heading to the Amazon to record binaural sound using a head-shaped microphone might seem relatively lo-fi, but the result was truly astonishing. Delivered to the audience via headphones, the installation of The Encounter required several kilometres of cable and custom hardware manufactured by a team of sound engineers and seamstresses. The unique staging allowed Complicite to innovate its way to a wider audience, too: since the delivery lent itself perfectly to live streaming, the company opted to broadcast the performance to the world – for free – over consecutive days.

Happily, that access did not prevent the company from taking its elaborate installation on an extensive UK and international tour in 2016, following its world premiere in Edinburgh in 2015. Despite its complexity, there was not a whiff of gimmickry. The Encounter was that rarest of achievements: a fluent, seemingly effortless fusion of art and technology, without compromise.

Also shortlisted
New Diorama Theatre
Les Enfants Terribles/Emma Brunjes Productions

Unsung Hero sponsored by White Light
Winner: Ned Seago

Since joining the Old Vic 30 years ago, Ned Seago has become a familiar and much-loved face, both front and back stage, at the London theatre. He initially travelled to London from Norfolk for a ticket-checking job as part of the front-of-house team and was offered the role on the spot, taking up the post in November 1986. He went on to cover different roles including box office assistant and administration assistant, before moving permanently to the stage door when the current Old Vic Theatre Trust took over in 1998.

He has developed a vast knowledge of the theatre, leading him to be known as the Old Vic’s ‘in-house historian’. As well as his day job as stage door manager, he also runs ‘Ned’s tours’, giving members of the public an insight into the venue.

Artistic director Matthew Warchus claims there’s no such thing as an “entirely bad day at work when you have Ned on the stage door”. He adds: “From an early-morning welcome to a late-night farewell, he is a beacon of calm, unruffled authority. He always provokes a smile and is unfailingly sensitive, kind, discrete, loyal and supportive.”

The Stage Awards 2016

Regional Theatre of the Year
Sponsored by Theatre 2016
Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester

London Theatre of the Year
Sponsored by Haagen-Dazs
Almeida Theatre

Fringe Theatre of the Year
Sponsored by Encore Insure
The Other Room, Cardiff

Producer of the Year
Sponsored by John Good
Sonia Friedman

School of the Year
Sponsored by Digital Theatre Plus
Arts Educational Schools London

Theatre Building of the Year
Sponsored by ABTT and Richard Pilbrow
NT Future, London

International Award
Sponsored by Ambassador Theatre Group
War Horse China

Unsung Hero
Roger Miller

The Stage Awards 2015

London Theatre of the Year
Sponsored by Haagen-Dazs
Young Vic Theatre

Producer of the Year
Sponsored by Ticketmaster
Sonia Friedman

School of the Year
Sponsored by Nick Hern Books
Young Everyman Playhouse, Liverpool

Sponsored by Nyman Libson Paul
Shakespeare’s Globe

Regional Theatre of the Year
Sponsored by Audience Systems
Nuffield, Southampton

Fringe Theatre of the Year
Sponsored by encoreinsure
Park Theatre, London

Theatre Building of the Year (joint winners)
Sponsored by Richard Pilbrow
Roundabout Theatre, Paines Plough / Shakespeare’s Globe

Unsung Hero
Sponsored by ABTT
Sue Nightingale, head of wardrobe at Birmingham Rep

The Stage Awards 2014

Regional Theatre of the Year
Sponsored by Audience Systems
Sheffield Theatres

Fringe Theatre of the Year
Sponsored by encoreinsure
Southwark Playhouse

School of the Year
Sponsored by Nick Hern Books
National Youth Theatre

London Theatre of the Year
Sponsored by Haagen-Dazs
Hampstead Theatre

Producer of the Year
Sponsored by Ticketmaster
Michael Grandage Company

Unsung Hero
Sponsored by the Association of British Theatre Technicians
Andy Collier

The Stage Awards 2013

Fringe Theatre of the Year
Union Theatre

Producer of the Year
A Play, a Pie and a Pint

School of the Year
ALRA North

London Theatre of the Year
Shakespeare’s Globe

Regional Theatre of the Year
Sheffield Theatre

Unsung Hero (joint winners)
Anne McNulty and Chris Isherman

The Stage Awards 2012

London Theatre of the Year
The Bush Theatre

Regional Theatre of the Year
Chichester Festival Theatre

Fringe Theatre of the Year
Jermyn Street Theatre

Producer of the Year
The National Theatre

School of the Year
Musical Theatre Academy

Unsung Hero
Edwin Shaw, Heather Miller and Frances Coyle

The Stage Awards 2011

London Theatre of the Year
The Royal Court Theatre

Regional Theatre of the Year
Northampton Royal and Derogate

Fringe Theatre of the Year
Finborough Theatre

Producer of the Year
English Touring Theatre

School of the Year
Sylvia Young Theatre School

The Stage Awards 2018 – Sponsors

Headline sponsor

The Stage is hugely proud of its association with Integro Insurance Brokers Ltd which helps to make The Stage Awards a special event

Category sponsors

The Stage is delighted with the extensive support shown to The Stage Awards by our category sponsors (Fringe Theatre)-01


The Stage is extremely grateful to all of The Stage Awards supporters

Related stories

I'm on various awards judging panels, including The Stage Awards, the UK Theatre Awards, the Offies and the recently discontinued Empty Space Peter Brook...

Photos formThe Stage Awards ceremony and party 2018 by Eliza Power and Alex Brenner... The Stage Awards arrivals The Stage Awards ceremony The Stage Awards party  

Theatre companies and individuals across the UK and globally are celebrated annually in The Stage Awards. The 2018 event took place at the Theatre...

The Stage Awards celebrate achievements of theatre companies and individuals across the UK and globally, and are presented annually. The 2018 event took place...

London's newest commercial theatre and the interior designer behind more than 80 venues are among the winners of The Stage Awards 2018, in association...

Around 10 years ago, I was in New York and an American actor mentioned how fortunate it was that I could be there during...

Actors Miriam-Teak Lee and Samuel Thomas are to host this year’s The Stage Awards 2018. Lee and Thomas were winners at the inaugural The Stage...

Our chronological rundown of which theatremakers received the top awards during 2017 The Stage Awards (January) Regional theatre of the year Sheffield Theatres London theatre of the year  Regent’s...

Read full story here Regional theatre of the year Sponsored by Evolution Productions Birmingham Hippodrome Royal Exchange, Manchester Sherman Theatre, Cardiff Read the judges' citation for...