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Sir Ian McKellen honoured at stage awards for services to theatre

Sir Ian McKellen in Hamlet at the Theatre Royal (Ian West/PA)
Sir Ian McKellen in Hamlet at the Theatre Royal (Ian West/PA)

Sir Ian McKellen has been recognised at the WhatsOnStage Awards for his fundraising efforts on behalf of theatres and arts organisations.

The 82-year-old actor was presented with the Services to Theatre award in celebration of his long career which has seen him star in many productions, including a return to the stage last year as Shakespeare’s Hamlet, 50 years after first playing the doomed Danish prince.

The ceremony, held on Sunday at the Prince of Wales Theatre in London’s West End, also saw Eddie Redmayne, Lily Allen and James McAvoy all receive top prizes.

The Fashion Awards 2021 – London
Lily Allen won the Best Female Performer in a Play award for her West End debut in 2:22 A Ghost Story (Ian West/PA)

The West End musical Frozen led the field with seven wins from its 13 nominations, including Best Direction for Michael Grandage and Best Set Design and Best Costume Design for Christopher Oram.

It also took home the awards for Best Choreography, Best Video Design, Best Musical Direction or Supervision, and Best Graphic Design.

However, the coveted Best New Musical award was won by Back To The Future.

The stage version of the cult 1980s film also took three other prizes – Best Male Supporting Performer in a Musical for Hugh Coles, Best Lighting Design and Best Sound Design.

Redmayne picked up the Best Male Performer in a Musical award for his portrayal of Emcee, the flamboyant master of ceremonies, in Cabaret, while previous WhatsOnStage Award-winner Carrie Hope Fletcher took home the female equivalent for her role in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella.

The Aeronauts UK Premiere – BFI London Film Festival 2019
Eddie Redmayne’s portrayal of Cabaret’s Emcee won him Best Male Performer in a Musical (David Parry/PA)

Anything Goes triumphed in the Best Musical Revival category, while Carly Mercedes Dyer received the Best Supporting Female prize for her role in the show.

Dominating the straight play categories was 2:22 A Ghost Story, a supernatural thriller about four friends caught up in a night of high tension, which picked up three wins including Best New Play.

Singer Allen was named Best Female Performer in a Play for her West End debut, while EastEnders star Jake Wood took home the Best Male Supporting Performer prize.

Cyrano de Bergerac, which has recently been turned into a film starring Peter Dinklage, won the Best Play Revival award.

X-Men actor McAvoy received the Best Male Performer award for his critically acclaimed role in the play.

The Fashion Awards 2021 – London
James McAvoy received the Best Male Performer award for his role in Cyrano de Bergerac (Ian West/PA)

Completing the stage acting categories, Akiya Henry won Best Female Supporting Performer for her role in The Tragedy Of Macbeth.

The 22nd annual WhatsOnStage Awards ceremony was hosted by Jodie Prenger and Tom Read Wilson.

The awards are decided entirely by theatregoers.

WhatsOnStage’s Sarah Coleman said: “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.

“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.

“And today we also honour the audiences who stuck with us, and have voted this year in numbers never seen before. We’re nothing without them, and we are enormously grateful for their unwavering support. Together we build our industry back.”

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