Manchester Theatre Awards for 2012

Published: 26 March 2013

The Manchester Theatre Awards for 2012 have been announced at a glittering ceremony held in one of the city's most historic theatres.

A celebrity audience of 300 were at Manchester Opera House for the award ceremony—the major theatrical prize-giving outside London.

Among the winners were many stage actors who also enjoy television fame, like Maxine Peake, Christopher Ravenscroft, Julie Hesmondhalgh, Ray Fearon and Sîan Phillips. But there were also many more players from the city's rich theatre tradition, and its equally vibrant fringe and studio scene.

Shows jostling for trophies included The Lion King, Wonderful Town, the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Julius Caesar, Phantom Of The Opera and Carousel.

Altogether there were around 80 nominations in 19 categories, honouring achievements in live theatre at venues including The Lowry, The Manchester Palace and Opera House, The Royal Exchange, Library Theatre, Bolton Octagon and Oldham Coliseum, as well as several fringe theatres and pub venues.

The celebrity audience walked the red carpet in Quay Street to attend the reception before the awards ceremony in the auditorium, hosted by several celebrity presenters.

The awards are the largest of their kind outside London and recognise the work of several leading local names as well as some of the biggest performers in British and international theatre.

The MTAs are chosen by a panel of nine independent regional theatre critics and confirm Manchester as the heart of the country’s second home of theatreland.

They enjoy the support of several media partners, Manchester City Council, and leading figures in the city’s arts and business communities

The city’s big theatres vie for the coveted awards alongside some of the region’s much smaller venues. Besides the awards for best production, actor or actress, there is recognition too for supporting stars and design.

The panel attend scores of productions throughout the region each year and this time have shortlisted 19 categories, ranging across drama, opera, musical theatre and dance. A special award was also presented to Porl Cooper, formerly of the Lowry's Studio space.

Appointed originally to programme small-scale theatre productions into a studio used for workshops, conferences and stand-up comedy, Porl turned the space into one of the leading fringe theatre venues and development opportunities for new work and new artists in the north west.

The winners:

Best Actor

Christopher Ravenscroft, in The Winslow Boy, at Bolton Octagon

Best Actress

Maxine Peake, in Miss Julie, at the Royal Exchange

Best Supporting Actor

Christopher Villiers, in The Winslow Boy, at Bolton Octagon

Best Supporting Actress

Natalie Grady, in The Daughter-in-Law, for the Library Theatre at The Lowry

Best Actor in a Visiting Production

Ray Fearon, in Julius Caesar, at The Lowry

Best Actress in a Visiting Production

Sian Phillips, in Cabaret, at The Lowry

Best Production

Wonderful Town, for Royal Exchange/The Halle/The Lowry 

Best New Play

Snookered, by Ishy Din, at Oldham Coliseum

Best Opera

Don Giovanni, from Opera North, at The Lowry

Best Dance

Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty, A New Adventures Production, at The Lowry

Best Visiting Production

Julius Caesar, from the Royal Shakespeare Company, at The Lowry

Best Musical

The Lion King, at the Palace

Best Special Entertainment

Star Cross’d, for Oldham Coliseum

Best Design

Wonderful Town, at The Lowry

Best Studio Production

Black Roses, at the Royal Exchange Studio

Best Performance in a Studio Production

Julie Hesmondhalgh, in Black Roses, at the Royal Exchange Studio

Best Ensemble

Arabian Nights, for the Library Theatre at The Lowry

Best Newcomer

Tamla Kari, in Saturday Night And Sunday Morning, at the Royal Exchange

Best Fringe

All the Bens, at 24:7 Theatre Festival

Special Award

Porl Cooper, Lowry Studio

David Upton