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2016 Manchester Theatre Awards - the winners revealed

PUBLISHED: 00:00 04 May 2017

The Stage Door Foundation Award for Excellence was awarded to Take Back Theatre. Photographed here are Becx Harrison, Grant Archer and Julie Hesmondhalgh with award presenter Caroline Clegg

The Stage Door Foundation Award for Excellence was awarded to Take Back Theatre. Photographed here are Becx Harrison, Grant Archer and Julie Hesmondhalgh with award presenter Caroline Clegg


The curtain was raised on the Manchester Theatre Awards at HOME but who were the winners? Janet Reeder reveals all

Special Achievement award was presented to Hope Mill Theatre. Photographed here is Joseph Houston.Special Achievement award was presented to Hope Mill Theatre. Photographed here is Joseph Houston.

‘Competition by its very nature creates more losers than winners – and that’s capitalism,’ joked compère Justin Moorhouse at the sixth annual Manchester Theatre Awards.

The comedian was speaking to an auditorium filled with the cream of the theatrical world as the 2017 award ceremony got underway at the city’s state of the art venue, HOME.

And while there were some who missed out on a gong at the event, plenty of others walked away with a well-deserved trophy.

Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre reaped a bumper haul, including a Best Actress award for Broadbottom-based Julie Hesmondhalgh, who is best known for portraying transgender Hayley Cropper in Coronation Street. She was warmly applauded for her role as a cancer patient in the American play Wit.

Winner of Performance in a Fringe Production was Joyce Branagh in Boomtown Gals (photographed here with award presenter Dave Moutrey)Winner of Performance in a Fringe Production was Joyce Branagh in Boomtown Gals (photographed here with award presenter Dave Moutrey)

Daniel Rigby was chosen Best Actor for his part as the Wilmslow computer scientist Alan Turing in Breaking The Code, which was also at the Exchange, and which was also chosen as Best Production and won supporting actress honours for Natalie Dew.

The Royal Exchange also won Best Musical for its re-staging of Sweet Charity, while its commitment to the Bruntwood prize for playwriting paid dividends with three trophies for the studio production of Wish List, including awards to its two lead players Joseph Quinn and Erin Doherty.

Rufus Hound was chosen Best Actor in a Visiting Production for his part as Toad in the new musical version of The Wind in The Willows, which premiered at the Lowry.

HOME itself won a best newcomer prize for Norah Lopez Holden in Ghosts, as well as Best New Play for The Emperor, starring Kathryn Hunter.

The Newcomer choice was a particularly crowded category this year and the judges, for the first time, also recognised the special contribution made by two teams of young performers in Billy Elliot at Manchester Palace, and To Kill A Mockingbird at Bolton Octagon.

Joyce Branagh, sister of Kenneth, won Best Fringe Performance for her production of Boomtown Gals.

The Robert Robson Award for Best Dance – named in honour of the late artistic director of The Lowry – was won by Akram Khan’s re-styling of Giselle at Manchester Palace Theatre.

Bolton Octagon Theatre’s spirited revival of the classic musical Singin’ In The Rain won both the Design and Ensemble awards.

One of the city’s newest venues, the Hope Mill Theatre, won Best Fringe production for The Trial, beside nominations in other categories. It was also given a Special Achievement award by the 10-strong panel of regional theatre critics who choose the Manchester Theatre Awards.

As media partners, Cheshire Life and Lancashire Life magazines were proud to be able to present the Best Opera award to Opera North for their production of Umberto Giordano’s Andrea Chénier.

Organiser Kevin Bourke said: ‘One of the things I really love about the Manchester Theatre Awards is how we can get on the same stage vibrant new theatre makers who are sometimes challenging but really deserve the recognition, along with more established companies or venues that still bring relevant, entertaining work to the discerning, theatre-loving audiences around Manchester.

‘And we try to actually make it fun to be there.’

For further information go to


Actor in a leading role

Daniel Rigby, Breaking The Code, Royal Exchange, Manchester

Actress in a leading role

Julie Hesmondhalgh, Wit, Royal Exchange, Manchester


Breaking The Code, Royal Exchange, Manchester

Actor in a supporting role

Daniel Crossley, Sweet Charity, Royal Exchange, Manchester

Actress in a supporting role

Natalie Dew, Breaking The Code, Royal Exchange, Manchester

Visiting Production

The James Plays, Lowry, Salford

Actor in a Visiting Production

Rufus Hound, The Wind in the Willows, The Lowry, Salford

Actress in a Visiting Production

Aoife Duffin, A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing, Lowry, Salford


Norah Lopez Holden, Ghosts, HOME, Manchester

Young newcomers

Young Michael cast, Billy Elliot, Palace, Manchester

Young Scout cast, To Kill A Mockingbird, Octagon Theatre Bolton

Jasmine de Goede and Lucy Doyle Ryder


Andrea Chénier, Opera North, Lowry, Salford

The Robert Robson Award for Dance

Akram Khan’s Giselle, Palace, Manchester


Sweet Charity, Royal Exchange, Manchester

Fringe Production

The Trial, Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester

Fringe Performance

Joyce Branagh, Boomtown Gals, Various venues

Studio Production

Wish List, Royal Exchange, Manchester

Actor in a Studio Production

Joseph Quinn, Wish List, Royal Exchange

Actress in a Studio Production

Erin Doherty, Wish List, Royal Exchange Studio, Manchester

New Play

The Emperor, HOME, Manchester


Singin’ In The Rain, Octagon Theatre, Bolton. Design: Ciaran Bagnall


Singin’ In The Rain, Octagon Theatre, Bolton

Special Entertainment

The Peony Pavillion, Lowry, Salford

Youth panel award

NOTHING, The Royal Exchange Theatre Young Company

Special Achievement

Hope Mill Theatre

Special Achievement

Philip Radcliffe, long-time member of the MTA Panel

Stage Door Foundation Award For Excellence

Take Back Theatre, Manchester-based theatre co-operative

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