TMA Awards Honor Blethyn, Boyd, Conley, Hall, Kenwright and Black Watch

News   TMA Awards Honor Blethyn, Boyd, Conley, Hall, Kenwright and Black Watch
This year's Theatrical Management Association (TMA) Awards – presented Oct. 26 in a ceremony at North London's Hampstead Theatre – saw the top honors in its 15 categories go to winners that included Oscar nominee Brenda Blethyn, RSC artistic director Michael Boyd, musical theatre and TV star Brian Conley, playwright Lee Hall, producer Bill Kenwright and the National Theatre of Scotland's production of Black Watch, amongst others.

The Theatre Awards are intended to honor individual creative excellence and collaborative artistic effort in performance and production and, in the words of the award administrators, "applaud the outstanding work seen in regional theatres each year: work which contributes so much to the vibrant cultural life of the UK."

Blethyn won the award for Best Performance in a Play for playing Amanda Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie at Manchester's Royal Exchange, in a production that subsequently toured regionally. The Royal Exchange also took further awards for Kate O'Flynn, who won the nod for Best Supporting Performance in a Play for her role in Lilian Hellman's The Children's Hour, a production for which Mick Hughes was also honored for Best Lighting Design.

Boyd was named Best Director for his production of The Histories, seen at Stratford-upon-Avon's Courtyard Theatre and subsequently transferring to London's Roundhouse. Conley took the award for Best Performance in a Musical for playing the title role in Chichester Festival Theatre's production of The Music Man. Playwright Lee Hall, currently represented on Broadway by his book for the musical Billy Elliot, saw his play The Pitman Painters, which originally premiered at Live Theatre, Newcastle before transferring to the National's Cottesloe, named Best New Play.

Veteran West End (and frequent Broadway) producer Kenwright took the Special Award for Individual Achievement, with TMA President Derek Nicholls saying, "This award is called special because it is the only one awarded directly by the TMA council on behalf of all of the membership. In this particular instance one of the main features that council wish to recognise was an outstanding lifetime's achievement. With constant tours the length and breadth of the UK, from Aberdeen to Plymouth, from Belfast to Bromley, the recipient of our award has gone on to become unquestionably the most prolific producer, having more than 500 productions to his credit, among those indestructible cornerstones of UK touring - Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Blood Brothers. His energy, tenacity and unstoppableness make him the greatest contributor to regional theatre of our time, and possibly and probably forever."

Also winning major awards were the National Theatre of Scotland's Blackwatch, winning the nod for Best Touring Production; Phil Wilmott's Once Upon a Time at the Adelphi, winning the award for Best Musical Production; Martin Ball, winning the Best Supporting Performance in a Musical award for playing George Banks in the current national tour of Mary Poppins; and Mike Britton, winning the award for Best Set Design for his Birmingham Rep production of Ibsen's The Lady from the Sea. Looking for JJ, presented by Pilot Theeatre in association with York Theatre Royal and Unicorn Theatre on tour, won the award for Best Show for Children and Young People. Opera North took the award for achievement in opera for its productions of Macbeth, A Midsummer Night's Dream and Romeo and Juliette, and Theatre-Rites and Arthur Pita won the award for achievement in dance for Mischief. The Stage Award for special achievement in regional theatre, presented by the British trade paper who sponsor the awards, was given to the Latitude Festival, for its efforts to take theatre to new audiences.

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