Despite religious protests which forced a third of venues to pull out of this year’s tour, Jerry Springer the Opera has added another prize to its long list of awards. Richard Thomas and Stewart Lee’s controversial musical was named Best Touring Production in this year’s TMA Awards, the only nationwide prize for regional theatre. The awards were announced last night (15 October 2006) at a ceremony hosted by actor-playwright Kwame Kwei-Armah at London’s Hampstead Theatre.

Sheffield Theatres triumphed by converting two of its nominations into wins – Best Supporting Performance in a Play (Tom Brooke for The Long and the Short and the Tall in the Lyceum and Best Design (Robert Innes Hopkins for Promises, Promises in the Crucible) – while the nascent National Theatre of Scotland scooped the Best Show for Children and Young People prize for its stage adaptation of the children’s book The Wolves in the Walls, a touring co-production with Improbable Theatre.

Greg Hicks nabbed Best Performance in a Play for his title turn in Bristol Old Vic’s Tamburlaine, directed by David Farr, now artistic director of Lyric Hammersmith, which also scored with the Young @ Heart company’s Road to Nowhere, named Best Musical Production. The awards’ host venue, Hampstead Theatre, had a hit with James PhillipsRubinstein Kiss, which took the trophy for Best New Play.

Other key wins went to Nina Raine (Best Director for Unprotected, the verbatim drama about prostitutes, at Liverpool Everyman), Nicole Faraday (Best Supporting Performance in a Musical for Bad Girls at West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds) and producer Thelma Holt, whose annual Shakespeare co-productions with Theatre Royal Plymouth has taken the bard to venues across the country. Holt was presented with her Special Award for Individual award by Royal Shakespeare Company chief associate director Gregory Doran, whose many productions, including currently The Canterbury Tales, she’s brought into the West End with Bill Kenwright.

In addition to winners and nominees, stars at last night’s ceremony included Michelle Collins, Lesley Joseph, Jake Maskall, Jim Carter, Isla Blair and Jude Kelly, who all presented awards. In considering this year's 12 awards categories, more than 1,000 productions were seen by the panel of some 150 regular theatregoers from across the country.

The Theatrical Management Association is a trade association that represents over 300 member organisations involved in the creation, presentation and management of professional theatre, opera and dance in the UK. Its annual awards were established in 1990. The TMA Awards were formerly known as the Barclays Awards, in honour of the high street banking group whose lead sponsorship ended four years ago. A separate set of awards, the TMA Management Awards, highlighting best practice in venue programming, marketing and customer services, were initiated in 2005, with a separate ceremony taking place in London on 8 November 2006.

- by Terri Paddock


The full list of 2006 TMA Theatre Awards nominations – with winners in bold - are as follows:

Best Performance in a Play - Greg Hicks for TAMBURLAINE at Bristol Old Vic; Jenny Ogilvie for the Royal Exchange Theatre Company’s WHAT EVERY WOMAN KNOWS; Daniel Weyman for NICHOLAS NICKLEBY at the Festival Theatre, Chichester.

Best Supporting Performance in a Play - Tom Brooke for THE LONG AND THE SHORT AND THE TALL at the Lyceum, Sheffield; Michael Harding for HAMLET at the Lyric, Belfast; Ray Panthaki for GLADIATOR GAMES at the Crucible, Sheffield.

Best Performance in a Musical - The Company of ASSASSINS at the Crucible, Sheffield ; Junix Inocian for PACIFIC OVERTURES at the Haymarket Theatre, Leicester; Ria Jones for ANYTHING GOES on tour.

Best Supporting Performance in a Musical - Nicole Faraday for BAD GIRLS THE MUSICAL at West Yorkshire Playhouse; Harriet Thorpe for SWEENEY TODD on tour; Rachel Tucker for MERRY CHRISTMAS BETTY FORD at the Lyric, Belfast.

Best Director - Lucy Pitman-Wallace for THE BURIAL AT THEBES at Nottingham Playhouse; Nina Raine for UNPROTECTED at the Everyman Theatre, Liverpool; Gregory Thompson for MOLLY SWEENEY at the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow.

Best Touring Production - ATC’s A BRIEF HISTORY OF HELEN OF TROY; JERRY SPRINGER - THE OPERA; Kneehigh’s TRISTAN AND YSEULT.

Best New Play - DYING CITY by Christopher Shinn at the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs at the Royal Court; RUBINSTEIN KISS by James Phillips at Hampstead Theatre; UP ON ROOF by Richard Bean at Hull Truck.

Best Musical Production - HOT MIKADO at the Watermill Theatre, Newbury; INTO THE WOODS at Derby Playhouse; ROAD TO NOWHERE at the Lyric Hammersmith.

Best Design - Laura Hopkins for JERUSALEM at West Yorkshire Playhouse; Robert Innes Hopkins for PROMISE, PROMISES at the Crucible, Sheffield; Matthew Wright for the Royal Shakespeare Company’s SPEAKING LIKE MAGPIES.

Best Show for Children & Young People - KATIE MORAG STORIES at Mull Theatre; Birmingham Stage Company’s KENSUKES KINGDOM on tour; National Theatre of Scotland’s WOLVES IN THE WALLS on tour.

Achievement in Opera - Richard Farnes for his musical leadership of Opera North; Glyndebourne Productions for exceptionally strong revivals of A MIDSUMMER NIGHTS DREAM, FIDELIO and GIULIO CESARE; Welsh National Opera’s MAZEPPA.

Achievement in Dance - LES BALLETS TROCKADERO DE MONTE CARLO for their hilarious blend of low comedy and high glamour that lampoons and celebrates the golden age of classical ballet; Birmingham Royal Ballet’s THE FIREBIRD, a fairytale masterpiece brought alive in music and dancing of captivating quality; The flamenco guitar legend Paco Pea for A COMPS!, a mesmerising evening of music and dance delivered by artists of exceptional skill.

The Stage Award for Special Achievement in Regional Theatre - English Youth Ballet

Special Award for Individual Achievement - Thelma Holt