Cameron Mackintosh’s production of Miss Saigon won a record-breaking nine WhatsOnStage Awards at a star-studded ceremony last night at London’s Prince of Wales Theatre.
The 15th Annual WhatsOnStage Awards, voted for by the theatre-going public, were hosted by Mel Giedroyc and Steve Furst (the latter is currently appearing in Made in Dagenham at the Adelphi Theatre).
Miss Saigon had received 12 nominations (in the Best Actor in a Musical and Best Supporting Actor in a Musical sections, two of the show’s performers had been recognised). It was only in one category for which the musical had been nominated – Best Lighting Design – that the show left empty handed.
Miss Saigon’s awards make impressive reading: Jon Jon Briones for Best Actor in a Musical, Eva Noblezada for Best Actress in a Musical, Kwang-Ho Hong for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical, Rachelle Ann Go for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical, Laurence Connor for Best Direction, Bob Avian and Geoffrey Garratt for Best Choreography and Totie Driver and Matt Kinley for Best Set Design, as well as wins for Best Musical Revival and Best West End Show.
Elsewhere, Memphis the Musical came out on top in the Best New Musical category (the show’s star Beverley Knight and composer/lyricist David Bryan were there to accept), Twickenham’s Theatre’s Sweeney Todd won Best Off-West End Production (the directorial debut of Mountview graduate Derek Anderson) and Sheffield Crucible’s Oliver! was named Best Regional Production. Best Takeover in a Role went to actress Kerry Ellis for her return to the London production of Wicked.
Winners’ quotes included:
Kwang-Ho Hong (Miss Saigon): “Thank you to everyone at Miss Saigon for adopting me with such warmth, especially Hugh Maynard [also nominated in the same category] – this award should be yours.”
Composer/lyricist David Bryan (Memphis the Musical): “This show is about ugly hate is and how powerful love is.”
Beverley Knight (Memphis the Musical): “I want to dedicate this award to the real Hueys and Felicias who risked their lives bringing rock‘n’roll to the south where there was so much hatred and fear. I want to thank them for allowing us to tell their story.”
Composer Claude-Michel Schönberg (Miss Saigon): “This show is against war, violence, it’s for understanding. And there are 18 different nationalities represented in the company. It’s about tolerance. I am so very proud of it, because the show is just as relevant today.”
Artistic director of Sheffield Theatres, Daniel Evans (Oliver!): “The award is really dedicated to our 60 hugely talented, young, local actors and their parents and guardians who made Christmas in 2013 a season to remember and cherish.”
During the ceremony there were several musical theatre performances from Sophie-Louise Dann (Made in Dagenham), Beverley Knight (Memphis the Musical), Eva Noblezada and Rachelle Ann Go (Miss Saigon) and excerpts from Dogfight and In the Heights (both Southwark Playhouse) and Sweeney Todd (Twickenham Theatre). A Rodgers and Hammerstein medley featured Sophia Ragavelas (Cats), Laura Tebbutt (Forbidden Broadway), Michael Watson (Jersey Boys) Lauren Samuels (soon to appear in Bend It Like Beckham) and Caroline Sheen (recently seen in Putting It Together).
The event was directed by Russell Labey who worked alongside choreographer Nick Winston, musical supervisor Alex Parker (who did a particularly fine job), lighting designer Derek Anderson, sound designer Simon Fox and producers Stuart Piper and Jason Haigh-Ellery.
The winners of the 15th Annual WhatsOnStage Awards (in the MUSICAL THEATRE categories) are:
Best Actor in a Musical – Jon Jon Briones, Miss Saigon
Best Actress in a Musical – Eva Noblezada, Miss Saigon
Best Supporting Actor in a Musical – Kwang-Ho Hong, Miss Saigon
Best Supporting Actress in a Musical – Rachelle Ann Go, Miss Saigon
Best New Musical – Memphis the Musical
Best Musical Revival – Miss Saigon
Best Direction – Laurence Connor, Miss Saigon
Best Choreography – Bob Avian and Geoffrey Garratt, Miss Saigon
Best Set Design – Totie Driver and Matt Kinley, Miss Saigon
Best Off-West End Production – Sweeney Todd, Twickenham Theatre
Best Regional Production – Oliver!, Sheffield Crucible
Best Takeover in a Role – Kerry Ellis, Wicked
Best West End Show – Miss Saigon