Sir Kenneth Branagh's 'Macbeth' Wins Manchester Theatre Awards

Excerpted from BBC News, 7 March 2014
By Ian Youngs
Thanks Isabel

Sir Kenneth Branagh's visceral version of 'Macbeth' has won three prizes at the Manchester Theatre Awards.

The play, part of the 2013 Manchester International Festival, was staged in an old church and featured a mud-strewn set and full-blooded battle scenes. It won best production, while Sir Kenneth won best actor and Ray Fearon best supporting actor, as Macduff.

Cush Jumbo was named best actress at Friday's ceremony for her role in 'A Doll's House' at the Royal Exchange.

The awards recognise plays, musicals, opera and dance across Greater Manchester.

Although Sir Kenneth did not attend the awards, he did send a personal message.

"In Manchester, from the moment we pelted our dear patrons with rain, mud and blood, we felt their complete (and literal) immersion in the experience," he said.

"They were not only good sports, they were the other half of the evening, and for their concentration, their support, and their reluctance to send us laundry bills, I thank them most sincerely.

"Playing Shakespeare is a privilege for an actor. To do so in a great city, under the banner of a great and creative festival was a treat from start to finish. To the Manchester Theatre Awards, my great thanks. I am sincerely grateful for this award."

Other winners included Oldham's Coliseum production of 'Chicago', which picked up two prizes: Best supporting actress for Shirley Darroch and best ensemble performance. 'Singin' In The Rain' at the Manchester Opera House was named best musical, Opera North's 'Otello' picked up best opera and the National Theatre's touring version of 'War Horse' won best visiting production.

Other double winners included rising playwright Alistair McDowall's 'Brilliant Adventures', which was at the Royal Exchange studio and won best studio production and best studio performance for actor Robert Lonsdale. 'Away From Home', a one-man show about a male escort who is hired by a premiership footballer, won best new play and best fringe performance for Rob Ward.

The full winners:
Best actor - Kenneth Branagh, Macbeth, Manchester International Festival
Best actress - Cush Jumbo, A Doll's House, Royal Exchange
Best supporting actor - Ray Fearon, Macbeth, Manchester International Festival
Best supporting actress - Shirley Darroch, Chicago, Oldham Coliseum
Best actor in a visiting production - Julian Glover, Maurice's Jubilee, Opera House
Best actress in a visiting production - Catherine Kinsella, Rutherford and Son, The Lowry
Best production - Macbeth, Manchester International Festival
Best visiting production - War Horse, National Theatre, The Lowry
Best musical - Singin' In The Rain, Opera House
Best opera - Otello, Opera North, The Lowry
The Robert Robson award for dance - Michael Clark Triple Bill, The Lowry
Best design - The Old Woman, Manchester International Festival, Palace Theatre
Best newcomer - Freya Sutton, Hairspray, The Lowry
Best new play - Away From Home, 24:7 Festival
Best studio production - Brilliant Adventures, Royal Exchange Studio
Best fringe production - The Best, Lass O'Gowrie
Best studio performance - Robert Lonsdale, Brilliant Adventures, Royal Exchange Studio
Best fringe performance - Rob Ward, Away From Home, 24:7 Theatre Festival
Best ensemble - Chicago, Oldham Coliseum
Best special entertainment - Dick Whittington, Opera House
Special achievement award - Chris Honer, Library Theatre, Manchester
The Stage Door Foundation award for excellence - Lip Service

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