We are delighted to announce that Willemijn Verkaik has won our Best West End Debut Award as part of the 2014 West End Frame Awards. The Dutch actress wins for her West End Debut as Elphaba in Wicked at the Apollo Victoria Theatre.
Speaking to West End Frame, Willemijn said: "Wow, this is really amazing and I'm truly touched. To play the role in the West End was such an honour and everyone knows it wasn't easy having to leave the show prematurely, but I always felt such support from all of you.
"I'm working very hard to get back into shape, and to receive this award is as if you're all there with me climbing that mountain. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart!"
Willemijn originated the role of Elphaba in the German and Dutch productions of Wicked before transferring to the Broadway production. She is the only actress to have played the iconic part in three different languages. Willemijn, who has also led the international casts of We Will Rock You and Mamma Mia, recently voiced the role of Elsa in the German and Dutch language versions of Disney's Frozen which is the most successful animated film of all time.
Rachelle Ann Go finishes second for her West End debut as Gigi in Cameron Mackintosh's West End revival of Miss Saigon at the Prince Edward Theatre. She is a well-known pop star and actress from the Philippines. Rachelle made her theatrical debut as Ariel in the Atlantis production of Disney’s Little Mermaid in 2011. She later played Jane Porter in a musical adaptation of Tarzan.
In third place is former X Factor UK winner Alexandra Burke who received huge acclaim for her West End debut as Rachel Marron in The Bodyguard at the Adelphi Theatre. The role marked Burke's theatrical debut. She proved popular with audiences and didn't miss a single performance throughout her limited run. Denis Grindel (Jimmy Rabbitte / The Commitments) comes fourth whilst A.J. Holmes (Elder Cunningham / The Book of Mormon) finished fifth. Click here to view the full result.
Andrew Tomlins (Editor of West End Frame) said: "We have seen some spectacular West End debuts over the past year and it has been inspiring to see so much support for our nominees who are fresh out of drama school as well as those who are internationally recognised superstars. There was a ridiculous amount of talent on the list of nominees and I would like to thank everybody who voted."
Last year’s Best West End Debut Award was won by international star Zrinka Cvitešić for her performance in Once. In 2012 the Award was won by X Factor UK winner Shayne Ward for his West End debut in Rock Of Ages.
Best West End Debut runs as part of the 2014 West End Frame Awards. Unlike other theatre awards, West End Frame only opens voting for one category at a time and combines male and female actors from musicals and plays into the same categories (where applicable). This award is a celebration of the West End’s newest talent.
The 2014 West End Frame Awards began in March when The Book of Mormon was voted Funniest West End Show. Les Miserables’ Tam Mutu went on to win Best Performance of a Song and, most recently, Miss Saigon’s Carolyn Maitland won Understudy of the Year.
Voting for the final 2014 West End Frame Award will open in December 'Follow' us on Twitter and 'Like' us on Facebook for further information and to be the first to find out when voting opens.