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Blethyn, Conley & Kenwright Win 2008 TMA Awards

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The Royal Exchange, Manchester won three prizes today (Sunday 26 October 2008) in the 2008 TMA Theatre Awards in a ceremony held at London’s Hampstead Theatre (See News, 1 Oct 2008): Brenda Blethyn (pictured) took home Best Performance in a Play for the Exchange revival of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie, while the theatre’s production of The Children’s Hour nabbed Best Supporting Performance in a Play for Kate O\'Flynn and Best Lighting Design for Mick Hughes.

Amongst the other big-name TMA winners are: Royal Shakespeare Company artistic director Michael Boyd won Best Director for the eight-play cycle of The Histories, which subsequently transferred to London’s Roundhouse; playwright Lee Hall, whose The Pitmen Painters, which returns to the National for a second run in January, was named Best New Play; Brian Conley, who took Best Performance in a Musical for The Music Man at Chichester Festival Theatre; and producer-director Bill Kenwright who was recognised in the non-shortlisted category of Special Achievement for Individual Achievement.

In another non-shortlisted category, Special Achievement in Regional Theatre, the Latitude Festival was praised by principal sponsor, The Stage newspaper, for “its ability to attract a broad range of age groups - in rather impressive numbers - to come and see performances ranging from hard-hitting plays, to dancing on a lake, to an RSC zombie thriller”.

Other key wins went to: Once Upon a Time at the Adelphi, which won Outstanding Musical Production; and the National Theatre of Scotland’s, which added Best Touring Production to its clutch of accolades for Gregory Burke’s Black Watch, seen in London earlier this year at the Barbican.

Presented by the Theatrical Management Association, the TMA Awards, unlike most of the UK\'s prizes for theatre, do not focus on London and the West End. They are the only nationwide awards for excellence in regional theatre. In considering the 13 awards categories – the new one, for lighting design, was added this year, supported by the Association of Lighting Designers - 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.

- by Terri Paddock

The full list of 2008 TMA Theatre Awards nominations – with winners denoted in bold - are as follows:

  • Best Performance in a Play - Brenda Blethyn for the Royal Exchange Theatre Company’s The Glass Menagerie; Keith Fleming & Gerry Mulgrew for Peer Gynt at Dundee Rep; and Kathryn Tozer for A Streetcar Named Desire at the Nuffield Southampton.
    • Best Supporting Performance in a Play - Roger Delves-Broughton for Journey’s End at the Mercury, Colchester; Tony Haygarth for Pygmalion on tour; and Kate O\'Flynn for the Royal Exchange Theatre Company’s The Children’s Hour.
    • Best Performance in a Musical - Brian Conley for The Music Man at Chichester Festival Theatre; Kathryn Evans for Sunset Boulevard at the Watermill Theatre, Newbury; and Rachel Tucker for The Wizard of Oz at the Lyric, Belfast.
    • Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical - Helena Blackman for South Pacific on tour; Martin Ball for Mary Poppins on tour; and Claire Sundin for The Hired Man on tour.
    • Best Musical Production - Don Giovanni at the New Victoria, Newcastle Under Lyme; Once Upon a Time at the Adelphi by Phil Wilmott at the Playhouse, Liverpool; and Moon Landing at Derby Playhouse.
    • Best Touring Production - The National Theatre of Scotland’s Black Watch; Shared Experience’s War and Peace, presented by Shared Experience, Nottingham Playhouse and Hampstead Theatre; and Stockholm by Frantic Assembly and Drum Theatre, Plymouth.
    • Best Director - Michael Boyd for The Histories at RSC, Stratford-upon-Avon; Steven Berkoff for On the Waterfront at Nottingham Playhouse; and Yael Farber for Molora at Oxford Playhouse.
    • Best New Play - Contractions by Mike Bartlett, at the Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Upstairs; The Pitman Painters by Lee Hall at Live Theatre, Newcastle; and Ten Tiny Toes by Esther Wilson at the Liverpool Everyman, in association with Shared Experience.
    • Best Set Design - Douglas Heap for Don Juan Comes Back from the War at the Belgrade Coventry; Christopher Woods for Once Upon a Time at the Adelphi at Liverpool Playhouse; and Mike Britton for The Lady from the Sea at Birmingham Rep.
    • Best Lighting Design - The Royal Exchange Theatre Company’s The Children’s Hour, designed by Mick Hughes; Equus, designed by David Hersey on tour; and The Railway Children, designed by Richard G Jones at York Theatre Royal.
    • Best Show for Children & Young People - Brilliant at the Polka Theatre, Wimbledon; Looking for JJ, Pilot Theatre in association with York Theatre Royal and Unicorn Theatre on tour; The Emperor’s New Kilt by Wee Stories and National Theatre of Scotland.
    • Achievement in Opera - Glyndebourne’s Hansel und Gretel; Opera North for its summer Shakespeare season of Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Romeo et Juliette; Scottish Opera’s A Night at the Chinese Opera; and Welsh National Opera’s The Sacrifice.
    • Achievement in Dance - Cloudgate Dance Theatre of Taiwan for Moon Water; Theatre-Rites & Arthur Pita for Mischief; and Rambert Dance Company for Carnival of the Animals and Swansong.
    • The Stage Award for Special Achievement in Regional Theatre – Latitude Festival
    • The Special Award for Individual Achievement – Bill Kenwright

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