The Stage announced the 2020 winners of The Stage Debut Awards, in association with Access Entertainment in a virtual ceremony last night (Sunday 27 September) filmed at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, in the heart of London’s West End.
Newcomer Sam Tutty scooped two awards for his star-making performance in the hit West End musical, Dear Evan Hansen. Marking his professional debut in one of the most anticipated productions of last year, Tutty captured the inner turmoil of the title character with immense skill and vocal precision. The recent Italia Conti graduate was announced as one of two winners for Best Performer in a Musical before it was revealed the general public also crowned him as the winner of Best West End Debut Performer; beating Wendell Pierce (The Wire, Suits), David Mitchell (Peep Show) and Aimee Lou Wood (Netflix’s Sex Education).
The Stage Debut Awards, in association with Access Entertainment, were hosted by the Olivier-nominated & Juliet star and former 2017 Debut Award winner Miriam-Teak Lee. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the awards were presented virtually for the first time allowing everyone to watch along at home, attracting over two and a half thousand views across Facebook, Youtube and Scenesaver.
Nominees were recognised for productions across the UK. Winners taking home awards this year include:
- Martha Kiss Perrone for directing an energetic and exhilarating mixture of performance and activism with When It Breaks It Burns, that spilled out of Battersea Arts Centre on to the streets.
- Sam Tutty for delivering a truly star-making performance as the lead in Dear Evan Hansen, at the Noël Coward Theatre in London’s West End.
- Rachel Nwokoro for her agile performance in Little Baby Jesus at the Orange Tree Theatre, in which she delivered her lines with “a lyrical flow that could give rapper Lady Leshurr a run for her money”.
- Composers and lyricists Jim Barne and Kit Buchan for playing with the conventions of a seasonal staple to create their sparky, small-scale festive musical The Season which played at the New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich and Royal and Derngate, Northampton.
- Daniel Monks for his powerhouse performance that nimbly mixed menace with charm and vulnerability with villainy in Teenage Dick at the Donmar Warehouse, London.
- Writer Temi Wilkey for The High Table at the Bush Theatre, London, a beguiling exploration of black queer love, described as “a gorgeous, joyous sunburst of a play” by the judging panel.
- Shan Ako for her vocally towering and wonderfully assured performance as Eponine in Les Misérables at the Sondheim Theatre.
- Designer Rose Revitt for her impressive set and costumes for Dr Korczak’s Example, vividly recreating 1940s Warsaw within Leeds Playhouse’s intimate new studio space.
- Composer Femi Temowo for his significant musical contributions to two major productions, the West End transfer of Death of a Salesman and Inua Ellams’ reworking of Chekhov’s Three Sisters.
Alistair Smith, editor of The Stage, says, “A huge congratulations to all our amazing winners and nominees. It has been an awful year for everyone in theatre, which makes it all the more important that we celebrate and support the emerging talent that is trying to gain a foothold in the industry at this difficult time.
“I have no doubt that when theatre comes back, it will return stronger than ever thanks to these exceptional theatremakers.”
The Stage Debut Awards recognise outstanding emerging talent from actors and directors to designers, writers, composers and lyricists, all of whom have made their professional debuts in the past year.
Danny Cohen, president of headline sponsor Access Entertainment, said: “Access Entertainment is delighted to sponsor The Stage Debut Awards for the third year and continue our commitment to nurturing new talent – needed now more than ever at such a challenging time for theatre and the creative industries.”
For more information visit thestage.co.uk/debuts