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Kidman and Cumberbatch win acting gongs at WhatsOnStage Awards

Benedict Cumberbatch in Hamlet at the Barbican Theatre, London. Photo: Johan Persson Benedict Cumberbatch in Hamlet at the Barbican Theatre, London. Photo: Johan Persson
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Nicole Kidman and Benedict Cumberbatch have picked up the top acting accolades at the 2016 WhatsOnStage Awards, which also saw Imelda Staunton and Judi Dench win prizes.

The event saw musical Chichester Festival Theatre’s Gypsy and Cumberbatch’s Hamlet take home four awards, with Kinky Boots winning three.

Kidman’s performance in Photograph 51 at the Noel Coward Theatre won her the best actress category, in which she was nominated alongside Denise Gough, Lia Williams, Rosalie Craig and Harriet Walter.

Kidman said the returning to the London stage after 17 years was “deeply personal” and had reconnected her with audiences.

“When you’re doing movies you don’t get that immediate response, and when you feel the audience eight shows a week and you actually get to meet them, the power, I would recommend that to any actor because it keeps you aware of what you’re doing. It keeps you engaged and it’s so rewarding,” she told The Stage.

Photograph 51, by Anna Ziegler, also won the best new play prize at a ceremony, held at the Prince of Wales Theatre in London on February 21. The publicly voted awards, now in their 16th year, also saw Kenneth Branagh celebrated for his services to theatre.

Cumberbatch won the best actor prize for Hamlet, beating James McAvoy, Bradley Cooper, Mark Rylance and Alex Hassell. Hamlet picked up four awards including best play revival, as well as wins for Es Devlin in the set design category and Jane Cox in the lighting design category.

Cumberbatch, who could not attend the ceremony, said in a video message: “This is fantastic I’m so thrilled to get this award. It means so much for many many many reasons… It was the most extraordinary adventure and I don’t think I ever will be in a production that is quite as ambitious.”

Imelda Staunton won the best actress in a musical category for Gypsy, while Matt Henry won best actor in a musical for his performance in Kinky Boots. The musical, which is running at the Adelphi Theatre, also won best new musical and best choreography for Jerry Mitchell.

In the supporting categories, Mark Gatiss won best supporting actor for the National Theatre’s Three Days in the Country, with Judi Dench winning best supporting actress for The Winter’s Tale.

Best supporting actor and actress in a musical were won by David Bedella, for In the Heights, and Lara Pulver for Gypsy.

Jonathan Kent won the best director category, also for Gypsy, beating Lyndsey Turner, Luke Sheppard, Racky Plews and Jerry Mitchell.

Accepting his award, Kent described Gypsy as “one of the great American musicals” and also praised Staunton for her performance in the show.

“I have worked with her three times and each time I think she can’t get better and every time she does. I can’t think of anybody in this country who could touch her as Rose,” he said.

Les Miserables won the best West End show category, while the UK tour of Mary Poppins picked up best regional production.


Nominations in full

Best actor in a play:
Benedict Cumberbatch, Hamlet – WINNER
James McAvoy, The Ruling Class
Bradley Cooper, The Elephant Man
Mark Rylance, Farinelli and the King
Alex Hassell, Henry V

Best actress in a play:
Nicole Kidman, Photograph 51 – WINNER
Denise Gough, People, Places and Things
Lia Williams, Oresteia
Rosalie Craig, As You Like It
Harriet Walter, Death of a Salesman

Best actor in a musical:
Killian Donnelly, Kinky Boots
Michael Ball, Mack and Mabel
Matt Henry, Kinky Boots – WINNER
Sam Mackay, In the Heights
Ben Forster, Elf the Musical

Best actress in a musical:
Imelda Staunton, Gypsy – WINNER
Beverley Knight, Cats
Kimberley Walsh, Elf the Musical
Lily Frazer, In the Heights
Katie Brayben, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical

Best supporting actor in a play:
Ciaran Hinds, Hamlet
Mark Gatiss, Three Days in the Country – WINNER
Bertie Carvel, Bakkhai
Johnny Flynn, Hangmen
Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, Hamlet

Best supporting actress in play:
Sian Brooke, Hamlet
Anastasia Hille, Hamlet
Imogen Doel, The Importance of Being Earnest
Patsy Ferran, As You Like It
Judi Dench, The Winter’s Tale – WINNER

Best supporting actor in a musical:
Lucas Rush, American Idiot
Alexis Gerred, American Idiot
David Bedella, In the Heights – WINNER
Jack Edwards, Mack and Mabel
Peter Davison, Gypsy

Best supporting actress in a musical:
Lara Pulver, Gypsy – WINNER
Jennie Dale, Elf the Musical
Amy Lennox, Kinky Boots
Lauren Samuels, Bend It Like Beckham
Victoria Hamilton-Barritt, In the Heights

Best new play:
Photograph 51 – WINNER
People, Places and Things
Farinelli and the King

Best new musical:
Kinky Boots – WINNER
Bend It Like Beckham
Elf the Musical
In the Heights

Best play revival:
Hamlet – WINNER
Importance of Being Earnest
The Ruling Class
Death of a Salesman

Best musical revival:
Gypsy – WINNER
High Society
Mack and Mabel
American Idiot

Best direction:
Hamlet, Lyndsey Turner
In the Heights, Luke Sheppard
American Idiot, Racky Plews
Kinky Boots, Jerry Mitchell
Gypsy, Jonathan Kent – WINNER

Best choreography:
Kinky Boots, Jerry Mitchell – WINNER
In the Heights, Drew McOnie
High Society, Nathan M Wright
Gypsy, Stephen Mear
American Idiot, Racky Plews

Best set design:
Hamlet, Es Devlin – WINNER
American Idiot, Sara Perks
Kinky Boots, David Rockwell
In The Heights, Takis
Gypsy, Anthony Ward

Best lighting design:
Hamlet, Jane Cox – WINNER
In The Heights, Howard Hudson
American Idiot, Tim Deiling
Kinky Boots, Kenneth Posner
Gypsy, Mark Henderson

Best off-West End production:
Shock Treatment, King’s Head Theatre
Carrie the Musical, Southwark Playhouse – WINNER
You Won’t Succeed on Broadway If You Don’t Have Any Jews, St James’s Theatre
Grand Hotel, Southwark Playhouse
Assassins, Menier Chocolate Factory

Best regional production:
Mack and Mabel, Chichester Festival Theatre and tour
Mary Poppins, tour – WINNER
Anything Goes, Sheffield Crucible and tour
Hairspray, tour
Henry V, Royal Shakespeare Company

Best West End show:
Les Miserables – WINNER
Kinky Boots
Miss Saigon

Equity award for services to theatre:
Kenneth Branagh

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