The Stage has announced the nominations for its annual The Stage Debut Awards.
45 people have been nominated across 8 categories, and include a mix of seasoned professionals and newcomers to the industry.
High profile, big name nominees include Paul Mescal (A Streetcar Named Desire), Samira Wiley (Blues for an Alabama Sky), Zachary Quinto (Best of Enemies), Mike Faist (Brokeback Mountain), Rose Ayling-Ellis (As You Like It), and Lenny Henry (August in England).
Performers and creatives nominated from current and forthcoming London shows include Carla Dixon-Hernandez (Best performer in a musical) for Mrs Doubtfire at Shaftesbury Theatre; Andrea Scott (Best designer) for video design for My Neighbour Totoro at Barbican Theatre; Anoushka Lucas (Best writer) for Elephant at Bush Theatre; Best creative West End debut nominees include Tingying Dong (sound design) for The Crucible at National Theatre and Gielgud Theatre, and Joe Bunker (musical direction) and SpitLip’s David Cumming, Felix Hagan, Natasha Hodgson and Zoë Roberts (composers/creators) for Operation Mincemeat at Fortune Theatre; and Michael R Jackson (Best composer, lyricist or book writer) for A Strange Loop at Barbican Theatre. Kyle Ramar Freeman was also nominated for his performance in A Strange Loop , but he’s no longer with the show.
The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony that will take place on 1 October 2023 at 8 Northumberland Avenue in London, hosted by Drag artist and performer Divina De Campo, who is currently starring in The SpongeBob Musical at the Queen Elizabeth Hall.
The awards recognise breakthrough theatre talent from the previous 12 months, celebrating their outstanding professional debuts.
The 7th annual awards are sponsored by Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG), and eight awards are up for grabs including Best Performer in a Play; Best Performer in a Musical; Best West End Creative Debut; Best Director; Best Designer; Best Writer; Best Composer/Lyricist or Book Writer; and Best West End Debut Performer.
Submissions for the awards were open until 30 June 2023, for debuts made before 17 July 2023.
The awards are initially nominated by The Stage’s theatre critics and the potential nominees themselves, and then a selection of 20 expert advisers including casting directors, producers, designers and other creatives from across the UK help the judges curate a longlist. A judging panel then met on 19 July to decide today’s shortlist of nominations.
Winners are then selected by the judging panel, apart from the winner of the Best West End Debut Performer, which is decided by public vote.
This year’s judging panel consists of: Theatre critics Dave Fargnoli (Freelance), Dominic Cavendish (Telegraph), and Sam Marlowe (The Stage); The Stage editor Alistair Smith; Deadline’s Baz Bamigboye; and journalist and writer Holly Williams.
Last year’s winners included Jodie Comer, and the ensemble of For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When the Hue Gets Too Heavy.
The Stage editor Alistair Smith said in a statement: “We have another superb shortlist this year, full of extraordinarily talented newcomers. It’s particularly thrilling to see the huge geographical spread of the work recognised – with three nominees from Wales, including our first ever nomination for a Welsh language performance – as well as high profile commercial shows from the West End and beyond. I look forward to celebrating with our nominees and our fabulous host Divina De Campo on the night.”
The Stage Debut Awards 2023 – Full list of nominees
Best Performer in a Play (Sponsored by Cabbells)
- Bukky Bakray for Sleepova at Bush Theatre, London
- Rita Bernard-Shaw for Trouble in Butetown at Donmar Warehouse, London
- Natalie Blair for Spring and Port Wine at Octagon Theatre, Bolton
- Rhian Blundell for Let the Right One In at Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester
- Elan Davies for Imrie at Sherman Theatre, Cardiff
- Rilwan Abiola Owokoniran for The Importance of Being Earnest at Leeds Playhouse and touring
- Daniel Rock for Richard the Second at Omnibus Theatre, London and touring
- Isobel Thom for I, Joan at Shakespeare’s Globe, London
Best Performer in a Musical (Sponsored by Carnival Cruise Line)
- Liv Andrusier for Ride at Charing Cross Theatre, London
- Josh Barnett for Newsies at Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre, London
- Arcangelo Ciulla for Newsies at Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre, London
- Carla Dixon-Hernandez for Mrs Doubtfire at Shaftesbury Theatre, London
- Drew Hylton for Unexpected Twist: An Oliver Twisted Tale at Royal and Derngate, Northampton and touring
- Jessica Lee for Miss Saigon at Crucible Theatre, Sheffield
- Maisie Smith for Strictly Ballroom the Musical, Churchill Theatre, Bromley and touring
Best Director(Sponsored by Arts Council England)
- Daniel Blake for Bones at Park Theatre, London
- Indiana Lown-Collins for The Solid Life of Sugar Water at Orange Tree Theatre, London
- Denzel Westley-Sanderson for The Importance of Being Earnest at Leeds Playhouse and touring
- Emily Ling Williams for A Playlist for the Revolution at Bush Theatre, London
Best Designer (Sponsored by Wimbledon College of Arts, UAL)
- Carly Brownbridge (set & costume) for Agatha at Theatre503, London
- Peter Butler (set & costume) for The Shape of Things at Park Theatre, London
- Andrea Scott (video) for My Neighbour Totoro at Barbican Theatre, London
Best Writer (Sponsored by Sonia Friedman Productions)
- Sasha Hails for Possession at Arcola Theatre, London
- Lenny Henry for August in England at Bush Theatre, London
- Anoushka Lucas for Elephant at Bush Theatre, London
- Jennifer Lunn for Es & Flo at Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff
- Richard Mylan for Sorter at Swansea Grand Theatre
- Zak Zarafshan for The Boys Are Kissing at Theatre503, London
Best Composer, Lyricist or Book Writer (Sponsored by Crossroads Live)
- Gerel Falconer for Alice in Wonderland at Brixton House, London
- Michael R Jackson for A Strange Loop at Barbican Theatre, London
- Jenny Moore for Robin Hood: The Legend. Re-written at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, London
- Lilly Pollard for Sugar Coat at Southwark Playhouse, London
Best West End Debut Performer
- Rose Ayling-Ellis for As You Like It at @sohoplace
- Emily Fairn for Brokeback Mountain at @sohoplace
- Mike Faist for Brokeback Mountain at @sohoplace
- Kyle Ramar Freeman for A Strange Loop at Barbican Theatre
- Gabriel Howell for The Unfriend at Criterion Theatre
- Paul Mescal for A Streetcar Named Desire at Phoenix Theatre
- Zachary Quinto for Best of Enemies at Noël Coward Theatre
- Samira Wiley for Blues for an Alabama Sky at National Theatre
Best Creative West End Debut: (Sponsored by Trafalgar Entertainment)
- Joe Bunker (Musical Director) for Operation Mincemeat at Fortune Theatre
- SpitLip (David Cumming, Felix Hagan, Natasha Hodgson and Zoë Roberts) (creators) for Operation Mincemeat at Fortune Theatre
- Tingying Dong (sound design) for The Crucible at National Theatre and Gielgud Theatre
- Michael R Jackson (writer) for A Strange Loop at Barbican Theatre
- Scott Le Crass (director) for Rose at Ambassadors Theatre
- Rob Madge (creator, performer) for My Son’s a Queer, (But What Can You Do?) at Garrick Theatre and Ambassadors Theatre