The Stage Awards 2017



This year’s winners were unveiled at The Stage Awards, held at Theatre Royal, Drury Lane on January 27, 2017. The results are displayed below. Photography by David Monteith-Hodge. The awards are presented in association with Integro.

Regional theatre of the year

Sheffield Theatres

Regional theatre of the year Sheffield Theatres artistic director Robert Hastie and chief executive Dan Bates

Why it won
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.

What our winner had to say
Sheffield Theatres artistic director Robert Hastie said: “We’re delighted. I’ve been in this job for a short enough time for it not to be indecent of me to say that I completely agree with the result. Sheffield Theatres is a brilliant theatre. It’s a huge honour for me to have joined such a brilliant team, led by chief executive Dan Bates, and to have inherited such a wonderful, thriving venue.”

Also shortlisted
Bristol Old Vic
Mercury Theatre, Colchester

A word from the sponsor
As a producer of some of the biggest and best pantomimes in the country, Evolution Productions works very closely with many regional theatres. We take great pride in working hand in hand with our theatres to produce bespoke, high-quality pantomimes.

Evolution Productions is a proud sponsor of The Stage Awards 2017 and we are delighted to present the award for Regional Theatre of the Year to Sheffield Theatres.

We have had the great pleasure of working with Dan Bates and the team at Sheffield Theatres for 11 years and thoroughly enjoy our wonderfully creative and record-breaking partnership. Massive congratulations to a very worthy winner.

London theatre of the year

Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre executive director William Village and artistic director Timothy Sheader with the award for London theatre of the year

Why it won
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.

What our winner had to say
Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre artistic director Timothy Sheader said: “It feels like a real privilege to have won this, not just for an individual production but for the whole theatre.

“That feels magnificently important in terms of everyone that works there, particularly with us as a seasonal venue. To get this recognition in January is particularly great for all those people up there throughout the year who make it possible to create an environment in which other artists can create the work they want to make.”

Also shortlisted
Menier Chocolate Factory
The Old Vic

A word from the sponsor
Managed Networks has been helping the theatre and entertainment sector make IT work for 15 years. Our DesktopLive solution gives you everything you need for secure, efficient and cost-effective IT across your whole organisation without any capital expenditure. We work with all the leading ticketing and till systems, and provide friendly and dedicated support to all your users whenever and wherever you need it. We provide 75% of West End theatres with their IT – ask us how we could help with yours.

We are delighted to be sponsoring this award, wish to congratulate all the winners and nominees of The Stage Awards and look forward to working together in 2017.

Fringe theatre of the year

New Diorama Theatre

New Diorama Theatre’s executive producer Sophie Wallis, artistic and executive director David Byrne and producer Helen Matravers

Why it won
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.

What our winner had to say
David Byrne, New Diorama Theatre’s artistic and executive director, said: “Thank you very much. We have had an amazing year. There is a huge number of people who go into making this small theatre happen. This year we launched a lot of new ideas, and we are particularly thankful to Arts Council England, which supported us so much over the past 12 months.

“It’s nice to know that even in really difficult times there are people out there who are willing to listen and take part in the arts.”

Also shortlisted
Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester
Hope Theatre, London

A word from the sponsor is an online theatre insurance facility specialising in fringe productions. We take the hassle out of insurance and can provide a competitively priced quote in minutes. You provide the show – we provide the cover. is your step by step, easy to follow, one-stop solution to your production insurance requirements. With access available to your account 24/7, everything can be processed at a time convenient to you. was created by the theatre department within Integro Insurance Brokers, which has more than 30 years’ experience.

We are very proud to be sponsoring the Fringe Theatre of the Year Award and would like to congratulate the winner, New Diorama Theatre.

Building of the year

King’s Cross Theatre

Building of the year Producers Tristan Baker and Sue Scott Davison with their award

Why it won
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.

What our winner had to say
Producer Tristan Baker, who runs the King’s Cross Theatre, said: “We didn’t expect this. We would like to thank The Stage and everyone who has been so supportive of what we have been doing up in King’s Cross in our “tented village”, as the legendary Mark Shenton describes us. We have had a great deal of fun there.

“A couple of years ago, we started off with a 10-week run of The Railway Children; two years later, at Christmas, we had three spaces, 2,500 seats and did 32 performances in one week. It’s been extraordinary and this is not for us, but the team who run the spaces. One hundred people work there and they are the most extraordinary team to be able to pull that together.”

Also shortlisted
Royal Court, Liverpool
Tara Theatre, London

A word from the sponsor
Seating specialist Audience Systems is excited to be involved once again with The Stage Awards and in particular with the Theatre Building of the Year category. It gives us great pleasure to congratulate this year’s winner, King’s Cross Theatre.

Every day in our work with theatres we see how much passion drives the design of the building – even when specifying a product such as retractable seating, where so many operational factors have to be considered. It is that passion that has elevated all this year’s nominees to greatness, and we applaud them.

Producer of the year

Sonia Friedman Productions

Producer of the year Sonia Friedman

Why she won
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.

What our winner had to say
Friedman said: “It feels really amazing. I guess it’s just testament to the amount and range of work we do, and all the people we work with.

“I am so lucky to work with the most amazing team of staff. There are now 28 of us, which is why we’re able to work on so many extraordinary pieces with such diversity.”

Also shortlisted
Fiery Angel
Kenny Wax Productions

A word from the sponsor
PRG XL Video
PRG XL Video is the UK operation of Production Resource Group, a global provider of technology and services for events and entertainment. PRG has its origins as a supplier of scenic and lighting technology for Broadway productions, and the UK arm provides lighting and video technology to many theatres in the West End, across the UK, and for touring productions worldwide.

We are delighted to present the Producer of the Year category at The Stage Awards 2017, and offer our sincerest congratulations to the winner and nominees.

School of the year

Musical Theatre Academy

Why it won
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.

What our winner had to say
Annemarie Lewis Thomas, principal of MTA, said: “We were thrilled to get shortlisted, having already won in 2012, so to win was particularly surprising. It’s rather humbling for a school that opened in 2009 to be recognised by our peers – twice.

“We’re particularly proud of the #time4change initiative and the inroads we’re currently making with 117 organisations signed up to it. Mental health is a difficulty in our industry and we need to address it.”

Also shortlisted
Urdang Academy
Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama

A word from the sponsor
Our mission at TodayTix is to make theatre more accessible to everyone, something we feel is particularly important for the younger generation. We are proud to support the young talent in this country and the schools who nurture and develop the performers of the future. An education in the arts teaches more than just how to perform. It provides a community in which to grow and an understanding of our history through the stories we tell.

Through our Social Ambassador Programme, we see the passion and ambition of young performers and are inspired and excited for the future of UK theatre.

International award

Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures

Choreographer Matthew Bourne and Robert Noble, group managing director of New Adventures with the international award

Why it won
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.

What our winner had to say
Bourne said: “Thanks to The Stage for this recognition and to everyone who works with us at our team at New Adventures and our charity, Re:Bourne. It’s really incredible to go to new places and to turn up in somewhere like Beijing or Shanghai to an audience that is enthusiastic and questioning and wants to understand the work. It took us by surprise.

“There is great enthusiasm for the work. We realised very quickly we had so much in common, much more in common than the things that divide us, and that’s the power of art. That is why we go back and do seasons like the one being celebrated today.”

Also shortlisted
Big in Belgium
Graeae Theatre Company

A word from the sponsor
The Ambassador Theatre Group is an extraordinary global success story. Founded in 1992, ATG is now the world’s number one live-theatre company with 45 venues in the UK, the United States (including three in New York) and Australia, and a production company in Germany. As a prolific international award-winning producer, ATG creates work across the entertainment spectrum. Dynamism, creativity and quality are at the heart of everything the company produces. ATG is also the market leader in theatre ticketing services through ATG Tickets, LOVETheatre and Group Line. Congratulations to all of this year’s nominees of The Stage Awards 2017 from everyone at ATG.

Sustainability award

Tara Theatre

Tara artistic director Jatinder Verma with the award for sustainability

Why it won
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.

What our winner had to say
Jatinder Verma, artistic director of Tara Theatre, said: “We are delighted to have won the sustainability award in the first year of the new Tara Theatre. What this does is encourage theatres like us to carry on [with sustainability] and that’s why I’m delighted.

“It has just been [open] six months, and it has been a fantastic environment, not just for us but for artists as well as for our audiences.”

Also shortlisted
London Theatre Consortium
The Handlebards

A word from the sponsor
Global Design Solutions is a specialist UK-based LED lighting manufacturer with a 12-year history. This award-winning company is truly global, having established a distribution network in 38 countries. In addition to its innovative lighting solutions, GDS also produces SM Console, the first-choice stage manager’s desk of many of the world’s leading theatres.

Having developed seven brands that have been recognised by 14 industry awards, GDS operates at the forefront of the entertainment, architectural, television and corporate markets. In the last four years, its revolutionary ArcSystem has been installed into some of the world’s most significant auditoria, arenas, churches, galleries and museums.

Innovation award


Director Kirsty Housley with Complicite’s Poppy Keeling (left) and Claire Gilbert (right), with their award for innovation

Why it won
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.

What our winner had to say
Kirsty Housley, co-director of The Encounter, said: “Thank you very much, we really appreciate this. The Encounter was an act of storytelling and, for the audience, an act of listening. It feels like a piece of work about listening and communicating across boundaries, and so is really important right now.”

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

A word from the sponsor
Charcoalblue is proud to support this year’s Innovation award, a celebration of the most ambitious creative and technical design developments in the performing arts during the last 12 months. Theatre is built and sustained by innovation, and this year’s shortlist are pioneering practitioners who affirm the UK’s role as the home of theatrical invention.

As the world’s leading theatre, acoustics and digital design consultancy, we look forward to working with this year’s nominees to further push the boundaries of what can be achieved on and behind the stage.

Unsung Hero

Ned Seago

Ned Seago with the Unsung Hero award

Why he won
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.”

What our winner had to say
Seago said: “It’s a word I don’t often use, because I think it’s an awful word, but I am gobsmacked, because I have no idea why me. But obviously I am very glad I have won the award.

“I think I’ve been there so long basically because nobody else would have me, but it’s a wonderful place to work. On balance, it’s the bricks and mortar that keep me prisoner; hopefully they’ll do so until I drop off my perch.”

A word from the sponsor
White Light
White Light is delighted to be supporting The Stage Awards, not just as a sponsor but by also providing the event’s technical requirements. For the past 45 years, White Light has been working with many of the unsung heroes of the industry: lighting designers, technicians, stage managers, production managers and many more.

One of the joys of working in the theatre industry is collaborating with people who understand that ‘the show must go on’ and work tirelessly to achieve amazing results. This award celebrates the thousands of unsung heroes in our industry, and we want to congratulate this year’s worthy winner, Ned Seago.

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


Integro Insurance brokers – incorporating Robertson Taylor W&P Longreach, Doodson, ACJ and Ellis Clowes – is an international insurance brokerage operating from offices spread across the UK and USA. Recognised as world leaders in our field, our major entertainment and sport practice specialises in designing insurance policies that meet the needs and special requirements of theatres and venues, bands and artists of all stature, film and TV production companies, sports governing bodies, teams and players.

We have provided insurance for more than 65% of the West End productions and advise approximately 130 theatres and venues in the UK. We provide advisory and risk management services to prestigious West End and Broadway theatre productions, national and international stage production companies and theatres, and many fringe venues throughout the UK. Our clients include: theatres, arts and multimedia venues, producers and production companies, dance companies, management companies, equipment hire companies, management consultants, event management, and production and set builders.

Our team of experts meets the insurance needs of those engaged right across the entertainment industry – we are always happy to provide a quotation and advice, or if you would like more information visit

Integro Insurance Brokers is extremely proud to be sponsoring The Stage Awards for a fourth year and would like to wish the nominees in each category of the awards the very best of luck.

Category sponsors

The Stage is delighted with the extensive support shown to The Stage Awards by our category sponsors

ATGAudience SystemsCharcoalblueEncore InsureEvolution ProductionsGDSWhite LightTodayTix Logo (red)_MNLogo 73px

PRG XL Video


The Stage is grateful to all of our supporters

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