Harry Potter and the Cursed Child wins eight prizes at WhatsOnStage awards

Sold-out show wins best new play, best director and three acting prizes, while Billie Piper wins best actress for Yerma

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, one of the biggest stage events of recent years, has won eight prizes at the only UK theatre awards voted on by the public.

The two-part play at London’s 1,900-seat Palace theatre took best new play, best director and three of the acting prizes at the 17th annual WhatsOnStage awards on Sunday.

The play, which imagines Harry, Hermione and Ron all grown up and waving their children off to Hogwarts, is sold out for the next year and is due to open on Broadway, at the Lyric theatre, in the spring of 2018.

Jamie Parker, who plays Harry, won best actor in a play, from a shortlist that also included Ralph Fiennes, Kenneth Branagh, Ian McKellen and Ian Hallard.

Anthony Boyle, who plays Scorpius Malfoy, won best supporting actor in a play, and Noma Dumezweni, who plays Hermione, won best supporting actress in a play. John Tiffany won best director, and the show’s other awards were best set design, best lighting and best video design.

Billie Piper won best actress in a play for Yerma at the Young Vic, a performance described by critics as “devastating” and “breathtakingly uninhibited”. She returns for a short run in the draining role at the Young Vic in the summer.

In the musical categories, honours were more evenly divided. Half a Sixpence won three prizes: best actor in a musical for Charlie Stemp; best supporting actress in a musical for Emma Williams; and best choreography.

The show’s producer, Cameron Mackintosh, was honoured with the Equity award for services to theatre, as he marks 50 years in the business.

Half a Sixpence, originally written as a star vehicle for Tommy Steele in 1963, was given a reboot by Julian Fellowes. It was considered a new musical rather than a revival but missed out in the new musical category to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s School of Rock, also written by Fellowes.

The best musical revival award went to Funny Girl, from a shortlist that also featured Jesus Christ Superstar, Ragtime, Show Boat and Sunset Boulevard.

Funny Girl’s star, Sheridan Smith, missed out on the best actress in a musical prize to Amber Riley, star of Dreamgirls.

Other prizes included No Man’s Land, starring Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, winning best play revival; Gary Barlow and Tim Firth’s Girls winning best regional production; and The Last Five Years taking best off-West End production.

Disney’s Aladdin won two prizes: best supporting actor in a musical for Trevor Dion Nicholas, and best costume design.

The WhatsOnStage ceremony has established itself as an important part of the British theatre awards calendar but the biggest is the Olivier awards, due to be presented at the Royal Albert Hall in April.


Mark Brown Arts correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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