Eddie Redmayne and Lily Allen win WhatsOnStage theatre awards

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Image source, Marc Brennan
Image caption,
Some questioned Eddie Redmayne's casting as the Emcee in Cabaret

Eddie Redmayne, Lily Allen and James McAvoy were among the award winners at a ceremony to recognise the "brilliance and resilience" of British theatre.

Redmayne won the WhatsOnStage Award for best performer in a male-identifying role in a musical, for his part in the West End musical Cabaret.

Allen won best female-identifying role in a play for her theatre debut, while McAvoy won the male equivalent.

The categories have been renamed this year to make them "fully inclusive".

Redmayne earned rave reviews for playing the Emcee in the revival of Cabaret, although his casting also attracted criticism because the character is usually portrayed as gay or queer, which Redmayne is not.

His co-star in the show, Jessie Buckley, lost out in the female category to Carrie Hope Fletcher, the star of Andrew Lloyd Webber's new take on Cinderella.

Elsewhere, Allen is best-known as a singer but made the move into acting last year, as a woman who is convinced her house is haunted in 2:22 - A Ghost Story.

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Image caption,
The Evening Standard said Lily Allen made "a spellbinding stage debut" in 2:22 - A Ghost Story

She won best performer in a female identifying role in a play, while her co-star, the former EastEnders actor Jake Wood, won best supporting performer in a male identifying role in a play. 2:22 - A Ghost Story was also named best new play.

McAvoy was crowned best performer in a male identifying role in a play for his take on Cyrano de Bergerac, which also won best play revival.

The awards were voted for by theatre audiences, and the musical adaptation of Disney's Frozen led the pack overall with seven prizes.

However, Back to the Future the Musical beat it to the title of best new musical, while Six the Musical won a separate prize for best West End show by just seven votes.

The 120-seat Hope Mill Theatre in Manchester won best regional production for Rent.

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Image caption,
Frozen the Musical won the most awards overall, with seven

A full ceremony was not held last year, with 2020 the last time the best actor and actress category titles were used.

"The decision to change the titles of the acting categories is to represent everyone within in the theatre community - these are first steps as we evolve the awards in the coming years to truly make them fully inclusive," a WhatsOnStage spokesperson said.

And the change follows the Brit Awards merging their male and female awards to have an artist of the year prize instead.

This year's WhatsOnStage ceremony was held at London's Prince of Wales Theatre on Sunday.

"Today's awards are testament to the brilliance and resilience of an industry, who even in the bleakest moments of the past two years kept faith and kept going," WhatsOnStage's Sarah Coleman said.

"The breadth of talent honoured today - in the first major theatre awards to return in full post-pandemic - demonstrates that theatre is back, and then some."

The WhatsOnStage Award winners:

  • Best performer in a male identifying role in a musical: Eddie Redmayne - Cabaret, Playhouse Theatre, London
  • Best performer in a female identifying role in a musical: Carrie Hope Fletcher - Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cinderella, Gillian Lynne Theatre, London
  • Best supporting performer in a male identifying role in a musical: Hugh Coles - Back to the Future the Musical, Manchester Opera House and Adelphi Theatre, London
  • Best supporting performer in a female identifying role in a musical: Carly Mercedes Dyer - Anything Goes, Barbican Centre, London
  • Best performer in a male identifying role in a play: James McAvoy - Cyrano de Bergerac, Playhouse Theatre, London
  • Best performer in a female identifying role in a play: Lily Allen - 2:22 A Ghost Story, Noel Coward Theatre, London
  • Best supporting performer in a male identifying role in a play: Jake Wood - 2:22 A Ghost Story
  • Best supporting performer in a female identifying role in a play: Akiya Henry - The Tragedy of Macbeth, Almeida Theatre, London
  • Best new musical: Back to the Future the Musical
  • Best musical revival: Anything Goes
  • Best new play: 2:22 A Ghost Story
  • Best play revival: Cyrano de Bergerac
  • Best off-West End production: My Son's A Queer but What Can You Do? - The Turbine Theatre
  • Best regional theatre production: Rent - Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester
  • Best West End show: Six the Musical - Vaudeville Theatre
  • Best direction: Michael Grandage - Frozen, Theatre Royal Drury Lane, London
  • Best choreography: Rob Ashford - Frozen
  • Best set design: Christopher Oram - Frozen
  • Best costume design: Christopher Oram - Frozen
  • Best lighting design: Tim Lutkin - Back to the Future the Musical
  • Best musical direction or supervision: Stephen Oremus - Frozen
  • Best sound design: Gareth Owen - Back to the Future the Musical
  • Best video design: Finn Ross - Frozen
  • Best graphic design: Bob King Creative - Frozen