Manchester’s Royal Exchange theatre had a bumper haul of trophies from the Manchester Theatre Awards, revealed at a star-studded event at the city’s HOME venue.
Julie Hesmondhalgh was an especially popular winner of the Best Actress award for her role as a cancer patient in the American play Wit last year. She remains best known to many as Hayley Cropper in TV’s Coronation Street.
Daniel Rigby was chosen Best Actor for his part as Manchester computer scientist Alan Turing in Breaking The Code, also at the Exchange, and which was also chosen as Best Production and won supporting actress honours for Natalie Dew.
Unusually the venue 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 vivid re-styling of Giselle at Manchester Palace Theatre.
Bolton Octagon Theatre’s spirited revival of 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, besides 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.