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Harry Potter casts another spell with eight gongs at theatre awards

Harry Potter And The Cursed Child swept up at a prestigious theatre awards, winning eight categories including best new play.

The spellbinding production, nominated for 11 gongs, was the big winner at the 17th annual WhatsOnStage Awards which are voted for by theatregoers.

Author JK Rowling said she was "so proud" of the cast and team behind the hit production.

Jamie Parker, who plays Harry Potter in the sequel to the books, said he was "quivering" after beating veteran stars including Sir Ian McKellen, Sir Kenneth Branagh and Ralph Fiennes to be named best actor in a play.

"This is not my home territory, awards shows - and I've never accepted one before so I've no idea what I said," he told the Press Association.

"You don't get the luxury of hiding behind someone else's words, or somebody's persona."

Co-written by Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, who was named best director, The Cursed Child was also recognised for best set design, best lighting design and best video design.

Noma Dumezweni, who plays Hermione Granger, and Anthony Boyle, who plays Scorpius Malfoy, won best supporting actress and best supporting actor in a play.

After dancing up on stage to collect her award, Dumezweni admitted she had dashed straight from a performance and arrived at the ceremony with minutes to spare.

The Swaziland-born actress faced a backlash when she was cast as a black Hermione Granger and said in light of the "hullaballoo" it was "really sweet" to be recognised by fans of the play.

"When the first previews happened, it was unlike anything I had ever experienced as a theatre actor because of the world of Harry Potter and the world that JK Rowling has created," she said.

Parker said The Cursed Child told a "very vital myth" amid turbulent political times in the UK and abroad.

"It is to do with letting destructive and traumatising and regressive parts of ourselves die so that we can re-emerge in a more evolved and more mature state - I think we badly need that at the moment," he said.

Rowling tweeted her congratulations to Dumezweni, Boyle and Parker, with a gif of a clapping Beyonce.

She later added: "So proud of everyone involved with #CursedChild tonight! #wosawards Congratulations @DickLeFenwick @MissDumezweni @antoboyle!"

The awards, hosted by comedian and actor Vikki Stone and West End star Simon Lipkin, took place at the Prince of Wales Theatre in central London on Sunday.

Half A Sixpence was the most successful musical winning three awards including best choreography - but lost out to School Of Rock in the best new musical category.

The award for best actress in a play went to Billie Piper for her critically acclaimed performance in Yerma at the Young Vic.

Sir Cameron Mackintosh was also recognised for his contribution to the industry with a lifetime achievement award, as he enters his 50th year in the business.

He told the audience : " I'm still the same stage struck boy at eight who wanted to be a producer, that started producing exactly 50 years ago this year - and I'm still doing it and that's thanks to you, the public."

Mackintosh is currently producing the British version of Hamilton, a musical which won 11 Tony Awards and broke box office records on Broadway, which will open in London in November.

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