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Strictly winner Rose Ayling-Ellis picks up gong at The Stage Debut Awards 2023

The stage and TV star fought off competition from a shortlist that included Normal People star Paul Mescal and Star Trek’s Zachary Quinto.

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British actress and Strictly Come Dancing 2021 winner Rose Ayling-Ellis has picked up the best West End debut prize at The Stage Debut Awards 2023.

The awards aim to highlight breakthrough actors, writers, directors, designers, composers or lyricists in the industry and the event was held at a venue in London on Sunday with host and drag queen Divina de Campo.

Former EastEnders star Ayling-Ellis, 28, won for her performance in As You Like It at Soho Place – her first West End play.

The stage and TV star fought off competition from a shortlist that included Normal People’s Paul Mescal for A Streetcar Named Desire, Star Trek actor Zachary Quinto for Best Of Enemies and Orange Is The New Black actress Samira Wiley for Blues For An Alabama Sky.

Earlier in the year Ayling-Ellis had been nominated for an Olivier Award for her role in the Shakespearean romantic comedy.

She was also the first deaf contestant to win BBC One dance show Strictly when she and professional dancer Giovanni Pernice picked up the Glitterball Trophy in 2021.

This year there were 10 winners at The Stage Debut Awards and one of the categories had joint winners in Isobel Thom, for Shakespeare’s Globe’s I, Joan, and Elan Davies for Imrie at the Sherman Theatre, Cardiff.

The pair won for best performer in a play and the latter marked the first win at The Stage Debut Awards for a performer in a Welsh-language production.

The best creative West End debut award was shared between two winners – Rob Madge for writing the West End show My Son’s A Queer (But What Can You Do?) at the Garrick Theatre and Ambassadors Theatre, and Tingying Dong for her sound design that created an eerie atmosphere for The Crucible at The National Theatre and Gielgud Theatre.

Jessica Lee took home best performer in a musical for Miss Saigon at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield, and Anoushka Lucas was honoured for best writer for the play Elephant.

Emily Ling Williams received the best director award for romance-comedy A Playlist For The Revolution and Andrea Scott won best designer for her video design for My Neighbour Totoro at the Barbican Theatre.

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Rose Ayling-Ellis (Ian West/PA)

Lastly, playwright and music writer Michael R Jackson scooped the best composer, lyricist or book writer award for his Broadway show A Strange Loop.

Speaking about the awards, The Stage editor Alistair Smith said: “Our wonderful winners highlight just how much emerging talent there is across British theatre.

“I’m particularly pleased that this year we were able to recognise our first ever winner in a Welsh-language performance.

“Meanwhile, also for the first time this year, I’m delighted to reveal that, in partnership with Ambassador Theatre Group, we are offering a £10,000 prize fund split among our winners.

“Along with the exposure these awards bring, we hope this will be a real tangible help to them as they embark on what we have no doubt will be stellar careers.”

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