The Stage Debut Awards

Sandra Giorgetti

Industry publication The Stage this week revealed the winners of the first Stage Debut Awards, which saw unknown newcomer Andrew Polec receive the award for Best West End Debut for his performance in Bat Out of Hell.

Polec took away the prize from under the noses of Amber Riley of television's Glee playing in Dreamgirls and Star Wars' John Boyega who appeared in the title role of Woyzeck at The Old Vic, in the only category that had a public vote based on a shortlist drawn up by the judging panel.

This award may have grabbed the most attention, but the Stage Debut Awards also recognise début writers, directors, designers and composers from across the country, nominated by the publication's reviewers and those working in the industry.

Alistair Smith, editor of The Stage, said, "The Stage Debut Awards celebrate new theatre talent, shining the spotlight on the stars of tomorrow. Our list of nominees showcases a wealth of talent from across the UK, with winners recognised for work produced in Bristol, Chichester, London, Derby, Sheffield and Manchester. Congratulations to them all."

"It will be great to watch these breakthrough stars become even better known, with many surely destined to become household names. Some are already being widely recognised—Dan Gillespie Sells is preparing for the West End transfer of his musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie and Miriam-Teak Lee will feature in the forthcoming West End production of Hamilton. We look forward to seeing our winners and nominees feature on Olivier, BAFTA and Oscar shortlists in future years."

Smith was on the judging panel with associate editors Lyn Gardner and Mark Shenton, theatre critic Sam Marlowe and reviews editor Natasha Tripney.

The winners are:

  • Best Actor in a Play - Abraham Popoola for Othello at Tobacco Factory Theatres, Bristol
  • Best Actress in a Play - Grace Molony for The Country Girls at the Minerva Theatre, Chichester
  • Best Actor in a Musical - Samuel Thomas for Allegro at Southwark Playhouse, London
  • Best Actress in a Musical - Miriam-Teak Lee for On the Town at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre, London
  • Best Director - Lekan Lawal for Betrayal at Derby Theatre, Derby
  • Best Designer - Rosie Elnile for The Convert at the Gate Theatre, London
  • Best Composer - Dan Gillespie Sells for Everybody's Talking About Jamie at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield
  • Best Writer - Katherine Soper for Wish List at the Royal Exchange, Manchester
  • Best West End Début - Andrew Polec for Bat Out of Hell at the London Coliseum

The Alan Bates Award for best drama school graduate was received by Georgia Frost.