2014 Manchester Theatre Awards - the winners revealed

PUBLISHED: 00:00 21 April 2015 | UPDATED: 16:40 12 February 2016

Best Visiting Production presented by Jane Asher
The Curious Incident Of the Dog In The Night-Time, from the National Theatre, at The Lowry received here by Bunny Christie

Best Visiting Production presented by Jane Asher The Curious Incident Of the Dog In The Night-Time, from the National Theatre, at The Lowry received here by Bunny Christie

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Top actors gathered at the Royal Northern College of Music to see who would take home a trophy from the region’s most prestigious theatre awards. Words by David Upton

The Royal Northern College of Music took centre stage to host this year’s Manchester Theatre Awards. The annual event is the largest awards ceremony of its kind outside of London.

More than 20 trophies were handed out to stars of stage and screen for a range of productions that had appeared in the city throughout 2014. The lucky winners at the glitzy event, which is supported by Cheshire Life and Lancashire Life magazines, were chosen by a panel of 11 leading regional theatre critics who between them view more than 200 theatre shows each year.

Best Studio Production, presented by actress Shobna Gulati to Zoe Roberts for He Had Hairy Hands, from Kill The Beast Company, at the Lowry StudioBest Studio Production, presented by actress Shobna Gulati to Zoe Roberts for He Had Hairy Hands, from Kill The Beast Company, at the Lowry Studio

After a glamorous drinks reception, which featured champagne, canapes and a chocolate fountain, the awards commenced. Presented by comedian Justin Moorhouse, a full orchestra made up of RNCM students musically introduced presenters, which included actors Shobna Gulati, Roxanne Pallette and David Fleeshman, onto the stage to announce winners.

The Best Actress trophy went to Clare Foster, for her performance in Duet For One and Separation, at the Octagon Theatre, Bolton. Clare, whose fellow nominees included Maxine Peake and Suranne Jones, couldn’t believe she won. ‘It’s absolutely extraordinary, I am blown away,’ said the actress.

Best Actor in a Visiting Production, presented and accepted by actress Roxanne Pallett for Antony Sher, in Henry IV Parts I and II, at The LowryBest Actor in a Visiting Production, presented and accepted by actress Roxanne Pallett for Antony Sher, in Henry IV Parts I and II, at The Lowry

Veteran comedy entertainer, Barry Humphries, was unable to attend to collect the Best Special Entertainment award for his farewell performance at Manchester Opera House in Eat, Pray, Laugh, but sent a filmed acceptance speech from his ‘cultural attache’ Sir Les Patterson. Humphries’ appearance in the city last year had been an especially poignant event as his grandfather emigrated to Australia from the city back in 1888.

Throughout the day there were performances from former RNCM pupil and rising star of the opera stage, Lorna James, and musical theatre stars Matt Rawle, Debbie Kurup and Jodie Prenger.

Jodie, who won Andrew Lloyd Webber’s BBC series I’d Do Anything, also presented and collected on his behalf, the Best Actor trophy for Harry McEntire, for his performance as Billy Liar at Manchester Royal Exchange. The Best Actor in a Visiting Production went to Sir Antony Sher as Falstaff in the RSC’s double bill, Henry IV Parts I and II at The Lowry.

The city’s new HOME arts centre, which does not actually open until May, managed to win three awards for productions it staged at venues across Manchester. HOME is also to be next year’s venue for the 2015 MTAs.

MTA panel chairman, Kevin Bourke, commented: ‘These awards are inspired by real love for what we do and, maybe, a little bit of anger at the way the arts can sometimes get slashed, undermined and attacked on a whim.

‘You only have to look at the breathtaking variety of shows and staggering performances being honoured here to see that, despite it all, live theatre is alive and rudely well in and around Manchester - where we are never afraid to cherish the best of the past, to embrace what’s new, interesting and perhaps provocative, and to light the way into a challenging, but undoubtedly exciting, future.’

2014 Manchester Theatre Award winners:

Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Gillian Bevan, in Hamlet, at the Royal Exchange.

Best Actor in a Supporting Role, David Birrell (accepted by Octagon artistic director, David Thacker) in Journey’s End, at the Octagon Theatre, Bolton.

Best Visiting Production, The Curious Incident Of the Dog In The Night-Time, from the National Theatre, at The Lowry.

The Brynteg Award for Best Musical, Jersey Boys, at the Palace Theatre

Youth Panel Award, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, at The Lowry.

Best Newcomer, Emily Barber, in Billy Liar, at the Royal Exchange.

Best Special Entertainment, Barry Humphries, in Eat, Pray, Laugh at the Opera House.

Robert Robson Award for Dance, Louise Shand-Brown for Le Corsaire, from English National Ballet, at the Palace Theatre.

Best Design, Ti Green for Romeo and Juliet, at HOME at Victoria Baths.

Best Opera, Richard Farnes for Götterdämmerung, from Opera North, at The Lowry.

The Stage Door Foundation Award for Excellence, Francesca Waite and Martin Gibbons of Monkeywood Theatre, recently made an Associate Artist of The Lowry.

Best Ensemble, Louise Lowe, Lynnette Moran and Owen Boss of Angel Meadow, at HOME, the Edinburgh Castle, Ancoats.

Best New Play, An August Bank Holiday Lark, by Deborah McAndrew, at Oldham Coliseum.

Best Studio Production, Zoe Roberts for He Had Hairy Hands, from Kill The Beast Company, at the Lowry Studio.

Best Studio Performance, Sinèad Matthews, in Pests, at the Royal Exchange Studio.

Best Fringe Production, Mark Whiteley, Celia Perkins and David Crowley for Thick As Thieves, from Hard Graft Theatre Company, at ReTale, Oldham Mumps.

Best Fringe Performance, Kaitlin Howard, in The Alphabet Girl, at the Kings Arms, Salford.

Best Actress in a Visiting Production, Katherine Kingsley, in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, at the Opera House.

Best Actor in a Visiting Production, Antony Sher, in Henry IV Parts I and II, at The Lowry.

Best Actress, Clare Foster, in Duet For One and Separation, at the Octagon Theatre, Bolton.

Best Actor, Harry McEntire, in Billy Liar, at the Royal Exchange.

Best Production, David Fry, Lynnette Moran, Owen Boss, Louise Lowe and Walter Meierjohann for Angel Meadow, directed by Louise Lowe and company for ANU Productions and HOME, at Edinburgh Castle, Ancoats.

Special Achievement Award, David Slack from Manchester 24:7 Theatre Festival.

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