The Almeida Theatre was named London Theatre of the Year at The Stage Awards 2018, the second time the venue has won in the category.
During the ceremony, held at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, the theatre was praised for productions including Hamlet starring Andrew Scott, Robert Icke’s production of Mary Stuart and James Graham’s new play Ink. The theatre’s previous win was in 2016.
The Sherman Theatre in Cardiff picked up the award for Regional Theatre of the Year. The judging panel cited the Welsh theatre’s superb productions of Killology and The Cherry Orchard, as well as its New Welsh Playwrights Programme.
The Fringe Theatre of the Year award was presented to the Hope Mill Theatre in Manchester. The 120-seat theatre was nominated in the same category at last year’s awards. A number of its musicals have transferred to London including Hair the Musical and Yank!
Former National Theatre bosses Nicholas Hytner and Nick Starr’s new venue, the Bridge Theatre, won Theatre Building of the Year. The venue opened in October 2017 and represents London’s first new commercial theatre of scale for four decades.
Clare Ferraby was the recipient of The Unsung Hero award. Ferraby has been responsible for the interior design of more than 80 historic theatres since she began working on the Crucible in Sheffield 50 years ago. Theatres she has worked on include the London Palladium, the Lyceum, Wyndham’s, Leeds Grand Theatre and Theatre Royal Nottingham.
Ferraby has formed a close working relationship with Cameron Mackintosh, for whom she most recently refurbished the Victoria Palace Theatre, the current home of the West End production of Hamilton.
Mackintosh said: “My latest restoration of Matcham’s masterpiece, the Victoria Palace could never have been achieved without Clare Ferraby. This achievement is all the more extraordinary as she suffered a number of strokes shortly after we started working on the project, but indomitably, cane in hand, she managed to create an extraordinary colourful and exhilarating temple of theatrical magic and light that will certainly last for another hundred years.”
Other winners included Hull City of Culture (Producer of the Year); the Royal Exchange Young Company (School of the Year); the Everyman Company in Liverpool (Innovation Award); the Arcola Theatre in London (Sustainability Award); and Imaginate for the Edinburgh International Children’s Festival (International Award).
Alistair Smith, editor of The Stage and chair of the judging panel, said: “We have a wonderfully eclectic selection of winners – from the return of repertory theatre in Liverpool to a children’s festival in Edinburgh to one of UK theatre’s most talented, specialist craftspeople in Clare Ferraby.
“I’m also delighted that the awards have such a wide geographical spread – Manchester, Hull, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Liverpool are all represented, as well as London.”
The Stage Awards, in association with Integro Insurance Brokers Ltd, are decided by organisation’s senior editorial team, following extensive consultation with leading figures in the theatre industry and a public nomination process.