With still a fortnight left to go, our tenth Whatsonstage.com Awards, aka the “theatregoers’ choice” and the only major theatre awards voted for by the paying public, has already broken voting records.

As of 10am today (18 January 2010), more than 36,000 people have voted in the 2010 Whatsonstage.com Awards, topping the record of 35,000 set in last year’s “theatregoers’ choice” prizes and the only major UK theatre accolades voted for annually by the paying public.

Ten years ago this month, the Whatsonstage.com Awards were born, almost by accident. When the nominations in that year’s Laurence Olivier Awards were announced, we published the shortlists and allowed readers to vote for who they thought should win. In five weeks, more than 7,000 people did so – and the results were markedly different from the decisions of the Olivier judges.

The following year, Whatsonstage.com published its own shortlists and the “theatregoers’ choice” awards have evolved from there. After years of steady growth, voting figures more than doubled – from 12,000 to 25,000 – between the 2007 and 2008 prizegivings. The Awards have continued to dramatically gain popularity and prominence since 2008, the same year that we launched the Whatsonstage.com Awards Concert, at which trophies are presented to winners in front of a sell-out audience of theatregoer voters at a West End theatre.

The 2010 Awards Concert takes place at 7pm on Sunday 14 February 2010 at the 1,200-seat Prince of Wales Theatre (home of Mamma Mia!).

Concert tickets, which range from £20-£42.50, are now on sale and can be booked by phone on 0844 482 5133 or online at www.whatsonstage.com/concert.

Ahead of the Concert and announcement of results – which, in order to maintain an element of surprise ahead of the ceremony – have been hidden since the beginning of the month, voting continues until 31 January 2010. Despite the record voting figures, many categories remain far too close to call! Amongst the tightest races are: Best New Musical, Best Actress in a Play, Best Director, Best Ensemble Performance, Best Off-West End Production and Best Regional Production.


As with last month’s Launch Party, the Awards Concert is held in aid of this year’s adopted charity, Theatre Royal Haymarket Masterclass, which gives young people the chance to learn from and be inspired by leading artists (See News, 29 Sep 2009). Set up by the Theatre Royal Haymarket in 1998, the hugely successful Masterclass programme has now welcomed over 40,000 people aged 17-30. Events are given free of charge and occur at least one Friday a month throughout the year, focusing on all aspects of theatre from acting and directing to writing and producing.

Though Masterclass events are designed for those at the start of their careers, theatregoers and others, of whatever age, are also welcome. The Masterclass Benefactor scheme (priced £55 per annum – reduced to £45 for members of the Whatsonstage.com Theatre Club) has been set up for this purpose. It includes: access to over 12 events a year, an annual friends’ party and special ticket offers for Theatre Royal Haymarket productions.