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Top theatre award for Northern Stage

They staged The Borrowers and now Northern Stage have something they don’t have to give back - a top theatre award

Gary Kitching and Karen Traynor in The Borrowers at Northern Stage
Gary Kitching and Karen Traynor in The Borrowers at Northern Stage

They staged The Borrowers and now Northern Stage have something they don’t have to give back - a top theatre award.

It will, however, have to be shared.

The Newcastle theatre company’s Christmas show was joint winner in the Best Show for Children and Young People category of the 2013 UK Theatre Awards, organised annually by the Theatrical Management Association (TMA).

At the final reckoning the judges couldn’t separate the Newcastle show and Mister Holgado, a production from the London-based Unicorn Theatre which specialises in shows for young audiences.

It didn’t stop them celebrating at Northern Stage, though.

Susan Coffer, the company’s executive director, said: “Every Christmas, as an alternative to panto, we produce quality, original entertainment for families, so we were absolutely delighted that last year’s production of The Borrowers won Best Show for Children and Young People in the prestigious UK Theatre Awards.”

The show, an adaptation of Mary Norton’s 1952 children’s book about the little people who borrow from the big folk above the floorboards, had a cast including Gary Kitching, Karen Traynor and Frances McNamee as Pod, Homily and Arrietty, the borrowers of the title.

The Journal’s reviewer called it charming and innovative.

It was the last show directed at Northern Stage by chief executive and artistic director Erica Whyman before she left to join the Royal Shakespeare Company at the beginning of this year.

This year’s Northern Stage Christmas show on the main stage will be directed by her successor, Lorne Campbell.

It is called Dark Woods, Deep Snow: A Grimm Tale for Christmas. Susan Coffer said the bar had been set very high by The Borrowers but she had every confidence this year’s show would be “another Christmas cracker”.

Julian Bird, chief executive of the TMA and the Society of London Theatre, said before the awards were presented: “It has been a year of great achievement for theatre throughout the length and breadth of the UK, as demonstrated by the range of nominations celebrating skill and variety both on and off stage.

“All the shortlists were hotly contested and we offer special congratulations to the winners.”

One of the main beneficiaries of this year’s UK Theatre Awards was Sheffield Theatres which scooped Best New Play for Bull, by Mike Bartlett, Best Musical Production for This Is My Family and Best Touring Production for The Full Monty.

Best Performance in a Play went to Cush Jumbo - known for playing Lois Habiba in TV sci fi adventure Torchwood - for her role in A Doll’s House at Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre.

Sian Phillips added Best Supporting Performance to her long list of prestigious acting awards garnered over a career lasting more than 50 years. This was for her role in This Is My Family.

Meanwhile Northern Stage finds itself in cahoots with the Royal Shakespeare Company in Newcastle this week.

While the RSC’s latest production of Hamlet pulls in the punters at the Theatre Royal, the theatre up the road at Haymarket is presenting a “funny, fast-paced” production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.

The show comes from a theatre company called Filter and is presented in association with the RSC.

The festive season gets underway again with the Christmas show for the under sixes, Tallest Tales From the Furthest Forest, on November 16. Dark Woods, Deep Snow: A Grimm Tale for Christmas runs from December 2-28.

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