The Stage Debut Awards 2018

The Stage Debut Awards are the only awards to recognise breakthrough theatre talent. They celebrate emerging actors and creatives, from all backgrounds.

"These awards have the power to change everything for the recipients and accelerate their careers." David Grindrod, casting director

The Stage Debut Awards 2018 will be held on September 23, 2018.

For all the latest The Stage Debut Awards news visit

1. The Stage critics 

The Stage's nationwide network of reviewers will identify actors and creatives making their debuts and put forward recommendations. People making their debut, agents and the general public can also nominate.

2. Expert advisors

Representatives from across the UK will be sent the critics' longlist and asked for their input.

Definition of debut: first professional appearance in a named role (previous appearances in ensemble roles or as an understudy do not disqualify you from consideration).

To be eligible for The Stage Debut Awards 2018 you must meet the following conditions:

  • Anyone who has made their theatre debut between August 1, 2017 and July 31, 2018 is eligible for nomination.
  • Nominees must be 16 years old and over.
  • Nominees' debuts must have been reviewed by The Stage.
  • The first performance reviewed by The Stage of a child actor returning to perform after the age of 16 is eligible.
  • Nominees must make their debuts in the UK.
  • Debuts in shows during Edinburgh Festival Fringe will not be considered for these awards, but are eligible for The Stage Edinburgh Awards. Prior appearances at Edinburgh Fringe do not disqualify you from eligibility for The Stage Debut Awards.
  • Actors and creatives who have previously worked in other media, e.g. TV and film, are eligible.
  • Nominees can be of any nationality.
  • The Joe Allen Best West End Debut category covers all West End debuts including performers, composers, writers, directors and designers. West End is defined as SOLT theatres.

For any queries on eligibility please contact Natasha Tripney, natasha[@]

The Stage's decision is final.


August 1, 2017  to July 31, 2018

The general public and The Stage critics submit recommendations for nominees.

June 2018

Expert advisors from throughout the UK input on longlist

September 23, 2018

Winners announced at The Stage Debut Awards Ceremony.

August 2018

Judging panel meets.

August 16, 2018

Shortlist announced and the Joe Allen Best West End Debut category opens to public vote.

2017 winners

The Stage Debut Awards is part of The Stage Supports, a series of groundbreaking interventions launched by The Stage with a range of industry partners, all with one aim: to nurture on and offstage talent in theatre and the performing arts.

Find out more
The awards are part of The Stage Supports – dedicated to nurturing, celebrating and sustaining talent in the performing arts. 

If you have any other questions about The Stage Debut Awards or The Stage Supports please email  marketing[@]


For any press enquiries relating to The Stage Debut Awards email head of marketing, 
Rachel Scott on rachel[@]



The Stage Supports has five key ambassadors, who offer experience and insight from all areas of the performing arts.

Noma Dumezweni

Olivier award-winning actor

“I am very much looking forward to celebrating the next generation of actors at The Stage Debut Awards later this year."

Michael Grandage

Olivier and Tony-winning director

“I am excited to join The Stage Supports, so we can work together to support even more young people to thrive in our industry."

David Grindrod

Casting director for Matilda and School of Rock

“The Debut Awards have the power to change everything for the recipients and accelerate their careers."

Preeya Kalidas

Actor: currently starring in School of Rock 

“The Stage Supports has initiatives that support and grow you as an actress and can really make a difference to your career."

Find out more about The Stage Supports


Click the logos for more information



4. The public vote

The West End debut shortlist will be decided by the judging panel. The shortlist will then be put to a public vote.

The range of industry advisors giving their input and recommendations includes:

Danielle Tarento, producer
David Grindrod, casting director

Marianne Elliott, director
Es Devlin, designer
Hannah Miller, Royal Shakespeare Company
James Grieve, Paines Plough
Jenny Sealey, Graeae
Jimmy Fay, Belfast Lyric
Laura Donnelly, National Theatre of Scotland
Madani Younis, Bush Theatre

Michael Grandage, director
Noma Dumezweni, actor
Paule Constable, designer
Pravesh Kumar, Rifco
Preeya Kalidas, actor
Sam Hodges, Nuffield Southampton Theatres
Sonia Friedman, producer
Tom Morris, Bristol Old Vic
Wendy Spon, National Theatre

James Graham, writer

3. Judging panel

Final decisions on both the shortlist and winners will be taken by our judging panel:

Natasha Tripney ⚬ Mark Shenton Lyn Gardner  Tim Bano
 Sam Marlowe ⚬ Bridget Minamore  Alistair Smith

Best Actress in a Play

Best Actor in a Play 

Best Actor in a Musical

sponsored by Encore Radio

Best Actress in a Musical

sponsored by R&H Theatricals Europe

Best Director

sponsored by Smith & Williamson

Best Designer

sponsored by Robe Lighting

Best Composer

sponsored by Trafalgar Entertainment Group

Best Writer

sponsored by InterTalent Rights Group

The Joe Allen Best West End Debut

Nominate debut performers, directors, writers, composers and designers in the productions you’re involved in.

Nominations have reopened and can be made by emailing the name of the nominee and the production to

Could you be an ambassador for the awards? Want to be one of the expert advisers who consult on the longlist? If you have ideas and think your skills could benefit The Stage Debut Awards, we would love to hear from you.
Gain vital exposure for your business and help us support emerging talent.
Email: debuts[@] 
Call: 020 7939 8468


Get involved

Best Actor in a Play

WINNER: Abraham Popoola for Othello at Tobacco Factory Theatres, Bristol

Jack Archer for Nivelli’s War at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast

TJ Jones for The Seven Acts of Mercy at the Swan Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company

Kenneth Omole for Assata Taught Me at the Gate Theatre, London

Best Actress in a Play 

Sponsored by Pauline Quirke Academy at PQA Studios London

WINNER: Grace Molony for The Country Girls at the Minerva Theatre, Chichester

Anya Chalotra for Much Ado About Nothing at Shakespeare’s Globe, London

Kellan Frankland for The House of Bernarda Alba at the Royal Exchange, Manchester

Jess Peet for Alice in Wonderland at the Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh

Best Actor in a Musical

Sponsored by Encore Radio

WINNER: Samuel Thomas for Allegro at Southwark Playhouse, London

Adam J Bernard for Dreamgirls at the Savoy Theatre, London

Ben Hunter for The Girls at the Phoenix Theatre, London

Daniel Urch for 110 in the Shade at Ye Olde Rose and Crown, London

Best Actress in a Musical

Sponsored by The Other Palace

WINNER: Miriam-Teak Lee for On the Town at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, London

Chloe Carrington for Hair at Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester

Emily Hughes for Fiddler on the Roof at Everyman Theatre, Liverpool

Siena Kelly for On the Town at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, London

Best Composer

Sponsored by Trafalgar Entertainment Group

WINNER: Dan Gillespie Sells for Everybody’s Talking About Jamie at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield

Jonah Brody for Removal Men and This Beautiful Future at the Yard, London

Ruth Chan for Snow in Midsummer at the Swan Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford-upon-Avon

MJ Harding for Removal Men at the Yard, London

Stephen Jackson for Roller Diner at the Soho Theatre, London

Best Designer

Sponsored by Robe

WINNER: Rosie Elnile for The Convert at the Gate Theatre, London

Joshua Gadsby for Dreamplay at the Vaults, London and Still Ill at the New Diorama, London

Simon Spencer for The Tempest at the Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford-upon-Avon

Jessica Staton for Extra Yarn at the Orange Tree Theatre, London

Best Director

Sponsored by See Tickets

WINNER: Lekan Lawal for Betrayal at Derby Theatre, Derby

Sean Aydon for Richard III at the Rosemary Branch, London

Alexander Lass for 46 Beacon at Trafalgar Studios 2, London

Lynette Linton for Assata Taught Me at the Gate Theatre, London

Best Writer

WINNER: Katherine Soper for Wish List at the Royal Exchange, Manchester, and Royal Court Theatre, London

Titas Halder for Run the Beast Down at the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury and Finborough Theatre, London

Asif Khan for Combustion at Tara Arts, London

Victoria Willing for Spring Offensive at the Clapham Omnibus, London

The Joe Allen Best West End Debut

WINNER: Andrew Polec for Bat Out of Hell at the London Coliseum

John Boyega for Woyzeck at the Old Vic

Anthony Boyle for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at the Palace Theatre

Andy Karl for Groundhog Day at the Old Vic

Audra McDonald for Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill at Wyndhams Theatre

Imogen Poots for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at the Harold Pinter Theatre

Amber Riley for Dreamgirls at the Savoy Theatre

Charlie Stemp for Half a Sixpence at the Noel Coward Theatre

The Stage Debut Awards 2017

The inaugural The Stage Debut Awards took place on September 17, 2017.

Guests at the awards ceremony included the most influential figures in the performing arts world from Grammy and Olivier Award-winning actress Amber Riley to the director of the National Theatre, Rufus Norris.

As well as live streaming the ceremony to thousands of eager viewers on Facebook,  #DebutAwards was trending on Twitter for over 14 hours on the day of the ceremony.

Check out the video of the evening below and to read more from the evening visit 
The Stage website.

To nominate email with the name of the nominee, the production and the venueTo nominate email with the name of the nominee, the production and the venue


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