Leanne Jones – who this week won Most Promising Newcomer at the Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards (See News, 29 Jan 2008) – will join her Hairspray onstage love interest (and Any Dream Will Do finalist) Ben James-Ellis to headline the first-ever Whatsonstage.com Year on Year Concert, which takes place at 7.30pm on Sunday 24 February 2008 at the West End’s Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue (See News, 14 Dec 2007).

The Year on Year Concert incorporates live trophy presentations to selected winners in this year’s Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers’ Choice Awards, the only major theatre prize-giving decided by members of the public, over 20,000 of whom have voted over the past seven weeks. Traditionally, the Awards have held only one awards-related annual event, a star-studded industry party to announce shortlists and open voting (See WOS TV & Photos, 10 Dec 2007). This marks the first time that a second event will be held at the conclusion of the awards campaign.

Jones is the only two-time nominee – in the running for both Newcomer of the Year and Best Actress in a Musical - in this year’s Awards. James-Ellis has also been nominated, for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical, as part of Hairspray’s ten overall nominations, including additional nods for Michael Ball (who presented at the Awards launch last month), Tracie Bennett, director Jack O’Brien and choreographer Jerry Mitchell as well as Best New Musical (click here to vote!).

Other nominees due to perform at the inaugural concert – produced by Stuart Piper and Jason Haigh-Ellery and held in aid of our adopted charity Mousetrap Theatre Projects – are Parade’s Bertie Carvel and Lara Pulver, Bad GirlsNicole Faraday and The Phantom of the Opera’s Robyn North, Leila Benn Harris and Ramin Karimloo.

Beyond the Awards link, the aim with Year on Year is to give a review of 2007 as well as a preview of what’s coming up in 2008, featuring the best of both the West End and Broadway seasons. There will be must-see sneak previews of New York hits such as Curtains, Spring Awakening, The Little Mermaid, Light in the Piazza, Into the Hoods and the new Ahrens and Flaherty musical The Glorious Ones (performed by Graham Bickley, who was previously Olivier and Whatsonstage.com-nominated for Ahrens and Flaherty’s Ragtime); a specially written Forbidden Broadway-style skit; winning tasters from the Perfect Pitch search for new musicals; and the first-ever London performance from the 40-strong cast of Take That musical Never Forget, one of the contenders for Best Regional Production in this year’s Awards following its 2007 tour.

Also amongst the exciting line-up of West End stars due to perform are: Any Dream Will Do’s Daniel Boys, Jon Robyns, Sharon D Clarke, Melanie La Barrie, Oliver Tompsett, Frances Ruffelle, Debbie Kurup, Paul Baker, Tom Solomon, Aimie Atkinson and, direct from Broadway, Jill Paice, who has just been cast as Scarlett O’Hara in Trevor Nunn’s upcoming adaptation of Gone With the Wind.

Straight plays will be represented by an array of surprise guest hosts and presenters. The concert is directed and devised by Russell Labey, with musical supervision by Iain Vince Gatt, lighting by Mike Robertson, sound by Ben Harrison and staging by Andrew Wright.

Voting in this year’s Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers’ Choice Awards continues until 10 February 2008, with winners announced on Friday 22 February, just ahead of the Year on Year Concert on Sunday 24 February.

The Whatsonstage.com Year on Year Concert takes place at the Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue at 7.30pm on Sunday 24 February. Tickets range from £10 to £35. To purchase tickets, call 0870 890 1107 or book online at www.nimaxtheatres.com.

For the full list of Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers’ Choice Awards
nominations and to vote before 10 February – click here.