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Winners Announced for the 16th Annual Whatsonstage Awards

Benedict Cumberbatch (Hamlet) in Hamlet at the Barbican Theatre
Benedict Cumberbatch (Hamlet) in Hamlet at the Barbican Theatre. Photo credit Johan Persson
  • Hamlet and Gypsy lead the awards with four wins each, while Kinky Boots claims three
  • Benedict Cumberbatch and Nicole Kidman win Best Actor in a Play and Best Actress in a Play awards
  • Judi Dench named Best Supporting Actress in a Play for The Winter’s Tale
  • Photograph 51 wins Best New Play and Kinky Boots wins Best New Musical
  • Mark Gatiss wins Best Supporting Actor in a Play for second year running
  • Kenneth Branagh receives Equity Award for Services to Theatre

The winners were announced this evening at the Prince of Wales Theatre for the 16th Annual WhatsOnStage Awards, celebrating the best of the UK’s theatre over the past year. The awards are the only major theatre prizes to be voted for entirely by the audience.

Hamlet and Gypsy lead the awards this year with four victories each – Hamlet wins for Benedict Cumberbatch in the Best Actor in a Play category, Best Play Revival, Best Set Design and Best Lighting Design with Gypsy picking up Best Actress in a Musical for Imelda Staunton, Best Supporting Actress in a Musical for Lara Pulver, Best Musical Revival and Best Direction.  Just behind Hamlet and Gypsyis Kinky Boots which receives awards for Best New Musical, Best Actor in a Musical for Matt Henry, who also performed Hold Me in Your Heart from Kinky Boots at the event, and Best Choreography.

Nicole Kidman (Rosalind Franklin)
Nicole Kidman (Rosalind Franklin) Photo by Johan Persson

Nicole Kidman is named Best Actress in a Play for her role in Photograph 51 which also picks up the award for Best New Play. In the other acting categories, Mark Gatiss receives Best Supporting Actor in a Play for the second year running, David Bedella takes Best Supporting Actor in a Musical for his role in In The Heights and Judi Dench wins Best Supporting Actress in a Play for The Winter’s Tale, directed by Rob Ashford and Kenneth Branagh. Branagh himself is the recipient of this year’s Equity Award for Services to Theatre.

Continuing the success of film to stage adaptations, the tour of Mary Poppins bags Best Regional Production and Carrie the Musical at Southwark Playhouse takes Best Off-West End Production, while the long-running Les Misérables beats off stiff competition to win Best West End Show.

In addition to Matt Henry, performers at the event included Pixie Lott, soon to be seen on stage in Breakfast at Tiffany’s; the cast of In The Heights; Jenna Russell with a number from musical Grey Gardens; a duet from Mrs Henderson Presents stars Emma Williams andTracie Bennett; Alison Jiear, Amelia Lily, Alexis Gerred and Rob Houchen with Orchestral Gaga, their own tribute to Lady Gaga; andStephen Ashfield, Laura Pitt-Pulford, Nadim Naaman and Anna O’Byrne with a rendition of ‘Something’s Coming’ from West Side Story.

These are truly the “theatregoers’ choice” prizes, the only major theatre awards in which the audience are the judges across all awards categories. The 2016 awards shortlists – covering the best theatre during the 2015 theatre year – were drawn up with the help of nominations from theatregoers logging onto the website throughout last November. Nominations were announced at a Launch Party on 3 December, and voting then ran online until 31 January.

All professional productions that ran between 1 December 2014 and 30 November 2015 were eligible for primary awards consideration. There are a few special categories: Best West End Show which applies to longer-running London productions; and, while non-West End and regional productions are eligible for nomination across all fields, there are also two categories specifically for Best Off-West End Production and Best Regional Production.


Best Actor in a Play sponsored by Radisson Blu Edwardian:

  • Benedict Cumberbatch, Hamlet
  • James McAvoy, The Ruling Class
  • Bradley Cooper, The Elephant Man
  • Mark Rylance, Farinelli and the King
  • Alex Hassell, Henry V

Best Actress in a Play sponsored by The Umbrella Rooms:

  • Nicole Kidman, Photograph 51
  • Denise Gough, People, Places and Things
  • Lia Williams, Oresteia
  • Rosalie Craig, As You Like It
  • Harriet Walter, Death of a Salesman

Best Actor in a Musical sponsored by Century:

  • Killian Donnelly, Kinky Boots
  • Michael Ball, Mack and Mabel
  • Matt Henry, Kinky Boots
  • Sam Mackay, In the Heights
  • Ben Forster, Elf the Musical

Best Actress in a Musical:

  • Imelda Staunton, Gypsy
  • Beverley Knight, Cats
  • Kimberley Walsh, Elf the Musical
  • Lily Frazer, In the Heights
  • Katie Brayben, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical

Best Supporting Actor in a Play:

  • Ciaran Hinds, Hamlet
  • Mark Gatiss, Three Days in the Country
  • Bertie Carvel, Bakkhai
  • Johnny Flynn, Hangmen
  • Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, Hamlet

Best Supporting Actress in a Play sponsored by The Tonic Theatre Company:

  • Sian Brooke, Hamlet
  • Anastasia Hille, Hamlet
  • Imogen Doel, The Importance of Being Earnest
  • Patsy Ferran, As You Like It
  • Judi Dench, The Winter’s Tale

Best Supporting Actor in a Musical:

  • Lucas Rush, American Idiot
  • Alexis Gerred, American Idiot
  • David Bedella, In The Heights
  • Jack Edwards, Mack and Mabel
  • Peter Davison, Gypsy

Best Supporting Actress in a Musical sponsored by Newman:

  • Lara Pulver, Gypsy
  • Jennie Dale, Elf the Musical
  • Amy Lennox, Kinky Boots
  • Lauren Samuels, Bend It Like Beckham
  • Victoria Hamilton-Barritt, In The Heights

Best New Play:

  • Hangmen
  • Oppenheimer
  • Photograph 51
  • People, Places and Things
  • Farinelli and the King

Best New Musical sponsored by Shine Creative Solutions:

  • Kinky Boots
  • Bend It Like Beckham
  • Elf the Musical
  • Beautiful
  • In The Heights

Best Play Revival:

  • Hamlet
  • Importance of Being Earnest
  • The Ruling Class
  • Death of a Salesman
  • Oresteia

Best Musical Revival sponsored by R&H Theatricals

  • Gypsy
  • Cats
  • High Society
  • Mack and Mabel
  • American Idiot

Best Direction:

  • Hamlet, Lyndsey Turner
  • In The Heights, Luke Sheppard
  • American Idiot, Racky Plews
  • Kinky Boots, Jerry Mitchell
  • Gypsy, Jonathan Kent

Best Choreography sponsored by Capezio:

  • Kinky Boots, Jerry Mitchell
  • In The Heights, Drew McOnie
  • High Society, Nathan M Wright
  • Gypsy, Stephen Mear
  • American Idiot, Racky Plews

Best Set Design sponsored by the Theatre Cafe:

  • Hamlet, Es Devlin
  • American Idiot, Sara Perks
  • Kinky Boots, David Rockwell
  • In The Heights, Takis
  • Gypsy, Anthony Ward

Best Lighting Design sponsored by White Light:

  • Hamlet, Jane Cox
  • In The Heights, Howard Hudson
  • American Idiot, Tim Deiling
  • Kinky Boots, Kenneth Posner
  • Gypsy, Mark Henderson

Best Off-West End Production sponsored by Les Misérables:

  • Shock Treatment, King’s Head Theatre
  • Carrie the Musical, Southwark Playhouse
  • You Won’t Succeed on Broadway If You Don’t Have Any Jews, St James’s Theatre
  • Grand Hotel, Southwark Playhouse
  • Assassins, Menier Chocolate Factory

Best Regional Production:

  • Mack and Mabel, Chichester Festival Theatre and tour
  • Mary Poppins, tour
  • Anything Goes, Sheffield Crucible and tour
  • Hairspray, tour
  • Henry V, RSC

Best West End Show sponsored by The Wine Treasury:

  • Wicked
  • Les Miserables
  • Kinky Boots
  • Miss Saigon
  • Matilda

Equity Award for Services to TheatreKenneth Branagh


  • Neil Cheesman

    First becoming involved in an online theatre business in 2005 and launching londontheatre1.com in September 2013. Neil writes reviews and news articles, and has interviewed over 150 actors and actresses from the West End, Broadway, film, television, and theatre. Follow Neil on Twitter @LondonTheatre1

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