Broadway leading lady Eden Espinosa – best known for starring as the green-skinned Elphaba in Wicked in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco – will help launch this year's audience-voted WhatsOnStage Awards, celebrating the best and most popular shows in the West End.
Just days before starring in the return of the hugely popular seasonal concert, Christmas in New York, at the West End's Palace Theatre, Espinosa will headline the entertainment at the star-studded WhatsOnStage Awards Launch Party on Friday 6 December at Café de Paris off Leicester Square, where the 2014 shortlists, covering the best of the 2013 theatregoing year, will be announced.
At the event, Espinosa will highlight the close link between the two theatre capitals of the world, London and New York, by performing a specially selected song from Rodgers and Hammerstein's extensive catalogue of musical classics, well known to theatre lovers on both sides of the Atlantic. Rodgers & Hammerstein Theatricals Europe, which licenses the canon, opened its London office last year and is a sponsor of the 2014 WhatsOnStage Awards.
Espinosa is joined onstage at the WhatsOnStage Launch Party by British theatre stars Cynthia Erivo (The Color Purple), Richard Fleeshman and Jenna Russell (Urinetown) as well as guest presenters Nigel Harman, Natalie Casey and The Big Issue founder John Bird, speaking on behalf of The Big Issue Foundation, the Official Charity of the WhatsOnStage Awards.
Eden Espinosa is one of Broadway's powerhouse female vocalists of the modern musical era. In addition to Wicked, her other credits include headlining the world première of the musical Brooklyn and playing Maureen in the closing Broadway company of RENT, which was captured on film and released worldwide on DVD.
Christmas in New York runs at the West End's Palace Theatre on Monday 9 December 2013, following its first-ever regional date at the Palace Theatre in Manchester on Saturday 7 December 2013. Christmas in New York also features Tori Allen-Martin, Lucy May Barker, Andy Coxon, Scott Garnham, Luke Kempner, Zoe Rainey and, in London only, special guest star Julie Atherton. For more information, visit www.christmasinnewyork.co.uk.
Once the shortlists are announced at the Launch Party on 6 December, final voting in the 2014 WhatsOnStage Awards opens and continues online at awards.whatsonstage.com until 31 January. Results are announced, and trophies presented, at the WhatsOnStage Awards Ceremony and Concert on Sunday 23 February at the West End's Prince of Wales Theatre, home of The Book of Mormon.
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