Whatsonstage.com went backstage at the West End’s Victoria Palace to present Ann Emery with her Best Supporting Actress in a Musical Award for her performance as Billy’s twinkle-toed grandmother in Billy Elliot (See News, 31 Jan 2006). The play’s director Stephen Daldry and one of the current Billys, Leon Cooke, were on hand to help Emery celebrate.

On accepting the trophy, the veteran actress told Whatsonstage.com: “Thank you voters and thank you Working Title Films. I would like to quote Sir Anthony Hopkins’ acceptance speech for his lifetime achievement award: ‘I've been around a long time and I never expected this.’ So thank you Stephen Daldry for discovering me - at last; and thanks to Peter Darling who encouraged my feet to be happy again! Yeah, but no, but yeah - this is as good as it gets!”

Emery’s prize was one of four overall for Billy Elliot in this year’s Theatregoers’ Choice Awards, voted for by more than 12,000 theatregoers. It also won Newcomer of the Year (for George Maguire, James Lomas and Liam Mower, who originated the title role – See News, 2 Feb 2006), Best Choreographer (Peter Darling) and last but by no means least, Best New Musical.

Although Daldry collected the Best New Musical trophy, he left it to book writer and lyricist Lee Hall to once again come up with the words of acceptance. Hall told Whatsonstage.com: "I am absolutely delighted to accept the award for Billy Elliot,” said Hall. “It means an awful lot that people have taken the musical to heart. Even though it has become a huge undertaking, it started off as a very personal project. I think I conceived it really to please my tastes and to make a personal statement about art, politics and families. That it has caught the imagination of so many people is testimony to the fact that you can do something against the grain and still reach people. I am honoured to receive it."

Choreographer Peter Darling was unavailable to accept his prize in person as he’s currently in Canada preparing for the world premiere of The Lord of the Rings stage musical, but he sent us a message from Toronto. "Thank you so much to all those who voted for the show,” he said. “I am delighted to receive an award for a piece of work that means a great deal to me."

Emery with director Stephen Daldry & current Billy Leon Cooke lift three of the musical’s awards

To view the full list of winners & nominees as well as further
acceptance remarks & voting percentages, click here. And look out for more
awards presentations over the coming days.