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Sheffield Theatres, Manchester’s Royal Exchange and Liverpool Everyman among winners at 2017 UK Theatre Awards

John McCrea in Everybody's Talking About Jamie. Photo: Johan Persson John McCrea in Everybody's Talking About Jamie. Photo: Johan Persson
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Sheffield Theatres’ musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie has scooped two accolades at this year’s UK Theatre Awards.

Actor John McCrea won the award for best performance in a musical for playing the role of 16-year-old drag queen Jamie in the production, which is transferring to the West End.

The show by Dan Gillespie Sells, who won The Stage Debut Award for composing the musical, and Tom MacRae also won the best new musical award.

McCrea said: “Hopefully this will be a gateway to keep on telling these stories; but actually this story is quite universal. The thing about the drag queen is niche, but it’s actually about finding your place in the world.”

Best performance in a play went to Joseph Millson for The Rover at the Royal Shakespeare Company, while best supporting performance went to Sharon Duncan-Brewster, for A Streetcar Named Desire at Manchester’s Royal Exchange.

Millson said: “I’m absolutely astonished and grateful [to win].

“I am devoted to [supporting regional theatre] and I promote it all the time. I grew up in the middle of nowhere and I don’t know where I would have been, as in prison and stuff, who knows, without the local theatre.”

Duncan-Brewster said: “I really did not expect to be winning this at all, so I’m shocked, chuffed, and ecstatic.”

The awards were announced at a ceremony in London hosted by Sharon D Clarke.

Lizzie Nunnery’s Narvik was named best new play, while Gemma Bodinetz collected the prize for best director for the Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse repertory season.

Best Touring Production went to The Who’s Tommy, which was co-produced by New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich and Ramps on the Moon. The two organisations also received the award for promotion of diversity for their work in the inclusion and integration of deaf and disabled individuals.

William Grint, who plays the lead role of Tommy, said: “I just can’t believe it, it really happened! Pinch me, am I awake?

“Absolutely [we need more shows like this], and the industry should put more captioned performances on, more interpreted performances on, have that kind of access embedded at the beginning, not so that it’s just an afterthought.”

The Renee Stepham Award for best presentation of touring theatre went to Nuffield Southampton Theatres for the touring musical production of Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox, while the New Vic Theatre in Newcastle-under-Lyme won best show for children and young people for The Snow Queen.

Others to be recognised in the awards included Jon Bausor for best design, Scottish Ballet for achievement in dance, and Scottish Opera for achievement in opera. The Mill at Sonning won most welcoming theatre for the second year running.

The £150,000 Clothworkers’ Theatre Award was given to Derby Theatre, as part of the Foundation’s five-year £1.25 million programme to support the arts. The award can be used for anything from capital works to sponsoring a touring production, as long as it is used for a specific purpose.

As previously announced, playwright David Hare was presented with the Gielgud Award for excellence in the dramatic arts, and theatre critic Lyn Gardner won an award for outstanding contribution to British Theatre.

UK Theatre president Fiona Allan also announced the inaugural AK Bennett-Hunter Award for backstage journalism, which is being created to help meet the need for more journalists who can write about backstage and technical theatre.

The award is a partnership between The Stage, the Association of British Theatre Technicians, Stage Management Association, Skillscene, the Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre, created in memory of former UK Theatre president and The Stage backstage editor, Ken Bennett-Hunter.

It consists of £2,000 of financial support, a year of mentoring from established journalists and expert backstage practitioners, behind-the-scenes access, introductions and networking opportunities, and publication in The Stage, and on the UK Theatre and Society of London Theatre websites.

The award may be presented to an established writer looking to develop their technical theatre knowledge, or for someone who works off stage to develop their writing ability.

See the list of winners in full

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