In addition to lists of top productions, Mates contributor Ian Foster reviews his reviews from the past year to award his personal prizes for the best performances for Best Actor and Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress in both plays and musicals…
Best Actor in a Play
O-T Fagbenle, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Full of potent rage but rendered impotent by the race politics of 1920s America, Fagbenle’s powder-keg of a performance is etched on my mind in all its revolutionary rage and the punch in the stomach of the finale proved one of those moments I don’t think I’ll ever forget. Truly superb.
Lucian Msamati, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
I ummed and aahed over whether to categorise this as a lead or supporting performance but ultimately there’s no denying how pivotal a role Toledo is. And how powerful Msamati was in it, starting off a superlative year for him in which he’s taken the National by storm.
- Phil Dunster, Pink Mist
- Paapa Essiedu, Hamlet
- Rhys Isaac-Jones, Jess and Joe Forever
- Lucian Msamati, Amadeus
- Danny Sapani, Les Blancs
- Gregory Ashton, Two Short Plays About Gays
- Hans Kesting, Kings of War
- Michael Socha, This Is Living
Best Actor in a Musical
Louis Maskell, The Grinning Man
As damaged soul Grinpayne, Maskell had the unenviable task of conveying the deep emotions of his character with much of his face obscured but through his sensitive acting and gorgeous vocal work, he perfectly captured the bittersweetly romantic tone of this Gothic hero. Surely, surely, we haven’t seen the last of this show.
Ako Mitchell, Ragtime
The fact that Ragtime straddled the US presidential election only heightened the power of its message and at its heart, Mitchell’s Coalhouse Walker Jnr on his journey of aspiration destroyed by intolerance felt like a beacon for so much more than Ahrens and Flaherty could ever have dreamed.
- Declan Bennett, Jesus Christ Superstar
- Dex Lee, Grease
- Hugh Maynard, Sweeney Todd
- Charlie Stemp, Half A Sixpence
- Mark Umbers, She Loves Me
- Fra Fee, The Wind in the Willows
- Ashley Robinson, Floyd Collins
- Michael Xavier, Sunset Boulevard