NT £10 Season Named Event of Year in WOS AwardsDate: 3 February 2004
The National Theatre’s Travelex £10 season – in which two-thirds of tickets in the 1,100-seat Olivier auditorium were slashed to just a tenner for six months – was today named the Planet Hollywood Theatre Event of the Year for 2003 in the Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers’ Choice Awards, sponsored by Samuel French Ltd, the only major theatre awards in which the paying public decides who and what wins across all 23 nomination categories.
The National’s pioneering ticket scheme gained 41% of the vote in the Theatre Event of the Year category, putting it streets ahead of other high-profile occasions including the West End debut of Friends’ Matthew Perry with Minnie Driver in Sexual Perversity in Chicago, the return of director director Franco Zeffirelli with Absolutely! (perhaps), the openings of the new Almeida and Hampstead Theatres, the Royal Shakespeare Company’s acclaimed Jacobean season and, less happily, the swift and ill-fated closures of Michael Barrymore and Money to Burn.
Commenting on the win, NT artistic director Nicholas Hytner said: “We are all delighted that the Travelex £10 Season has been voted Theatre Event of the Year on Whatsonstage.com, and even more delighted that our second Travelex £10 Season starts in April with a repertoire that we hope is every bit as strong as last year's.”
Three of the four productions in the inaugural Travelex £10 season were also singled out for individual prizes. His Girl Friday won for Best New Comedy; Hytner’s own production of Henry V, with Adrian Lester in the title role, scooped Best Shakespearean Production; while Edward Hall’s staging of David Mamet’s Edmond won Best Play Revival, Best Supporting Actress for Nicola Walker and Best Actor for Kenneth Branagh (who faced competition from Ralph Fiennes, Tom Hollander, Michael Sheen, Matthew Kelly and Conleth Hill).
Overall, the National converted its record-breaking 40 nominations into a total of 15 awards, making a particularly strong musical showing with Anything Goes scooping no fewer than six prizes - Best Actor (John Barrowman) and Best Actress (Sally Ann Triplett) in a Musical, Best Musical Revival, Best Director (former artistic director Trevor Nunn), Best Set Designer (John Gunter) and Best Choreographer (Stephen Mear) – and Jerry Springer - The Opera nabbing Best New Musical and London Newcomer of the Year (Benjamin Lake).
Elsewhere, several big names proved popular with theatregoers this past year: Denise Van Outen was voted Best Solo Performance for the Andrew Lloyd Webber song cycle Tell Me on a Sunday (winning over the likes Celia Imrie, Felicity Kendal and Sir Tom Courtenay); Kristin Scott Thomas was named Best Actress for Three Sisters in the West End (beating Diana Quick, Eileen Atkins, Janet McTeer, Janie Dee and Eve Best, who played the same role in a rival production of the Chekhov classic at the National); Jim Broadbent won Best Supporting Actor for Martin McDonagh’s latest The Pillowman (against competition including Warren Mitchell, Alex Ferns and Hank Azaria); and, in a new category, West End diva Ruthie Henshall won Best Takeover in a Role for her return to long-running hit musical Chicago.
In other key categories, all extremely tightly contested, winners included: Terry Johnson’s Hitchcock Blonde for Best New Play; Propeller’s A Midsummer Night's Dream for Best Ensemble Performance; the King’s Head’s British premiere of Terence McNally’s The Lisbon Traviata for Best Overall Fringe Production; and, for Best Regional or Touring Production, the Royal Shakespeare Company’s historic pairing of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew and John Fletcher’s sequel The Tamer Tamed, now transferred to London.
More than 10,000 people voted in this year’s awards, with nearly 1,000 participating in drawing up the shortlists. Nominations were announced at an event held on Friday 28 November 2003 at the Dominion Theatre, home of We Will Rock You (See News, 28 Nov 2003).