We are delighted to announce that Jacqueline Hughes has won West End Frame's 2015 Understudy of the Year Award for standing by as Elphaba in the UK and Ireland touring production of Wicked.
Speaking to West End Frame, Hughes said: "I am so completely overwhelmed to have won the 2015 Understudy of the Year Award! I feel so honoured to have been on that list in the first place, especially alongside such incredible talent.
"The support I've had is beyond words and I want thank you all from the bottom of my heart for voting! The past year has been a dream come true and I am so lucky and proud to have had the opportunity to stand by for the iconic green girl, Elphaba. This really is the icing on the cake to my four and a half year Wicked journey!"
Hughes first joined Wicked as a swing in the West End production. She initially understudied Madame Morrible before becoming second understudy for Elphaba. In 2014 Hughes transferred to the UK and Ireland tour as standby Elphaba for the production's final year, playing the role on countless occasions. This marks the first time a performer from Wicked has won Understudy of the Year.
The incomparable Zoë Birkett finishes second for alternating the role of Rachel Marron in the UK touring production of The Bodyguard. Marking the first time performers from UK touring productions have been eligible, this year's Understudy of the Year has been one of the tightest West End Frame Awards ever - just 2% separated the top two.
Runners-up also include Ryan O'Donnell (understudy Ray Davies/Sunny Afternoon), Adam Bayjou (understudy Jean Valjean/Les Miserables), Joanna Woodward (understudy Carole King/Beautiful) and Alex Tomkins (alternate Deco/The Commitments). Click here for the full result.
West End Frame's Editor, Andrew Tomlins, said: "Huge congratulations to Jacqueline for winning this year's Understudy of the Year Award! The past few weeks have been absolutely crazy - the support for Jacqueline, Zoë and all our nominees has been mind blowing. Massive thank you to everyone who took time to vote and spread the word about this year's award!
"Not only would all twenty-eight nominees be worthy winners, but all the understudies and swings working in theatreland do an incredible job and deserve great recognition for the tremendously challenging job that they do. Understudy of the Year is about celebrating all understudies/alternates/standbys in the industry. Thank you once again for all your support!"
Last year’s Understudy of the Year Award was won by Carolyn Maitland for understudying Ellen in Miss Saigon. Previous winners also include: Ashley Day (understudy Elder Price/The Book of Mormon) and Katy Treharne (alternate Christine/The Phantom of the Opera).
Unlike other theatre awards, West End Frame only opens voting for one category at a time and combines male and female actors from new and long-running productions into the same categories (where applicable). The 2015 West End Frame Awards began in March with Sunny Afternoon being named Most Inspiring West End Show and in May John Dagleish won Best Performance of a Song for his rendition of ‘Waterloo Sunset’ in Sunny Afternoon.