In this year’s Theatregoers’ Choice Awards, the Menier Chocolate Factory collected the prize for Best-Off West End Production for the second year in a row (See News, 31 Jan 2006).

Having won last year for Fully Committed, the Menier triumphed this year with its revival of Stephen Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George, which is currently enjoying an extended sell-out season at the intimate 150-seater ahead of a planned West End transfer. In its category, it beat off competition from a field of six that included two other Menier productions.

Accepting the award, joint artistic director Danielle Tarento (pictured) said: “To win this award two years in a row is an amazing achievement for us. We are so grateful to our loyal supporters and everyone who took the time to vote, and also a big thank you to for their encouragement and coverage.”

The musical’s director Sam Buntrock added: “We are all delighted to receive this award which represents all the hard work done by everyone involved in the production. It is especially pleasing as it has been voted for by the theatregoing public.”

The latest accolade comes on top of this week’s Best Designer award for Sunday in the Park with George David Farley and Timothy Bird and the earlier Evening Standard Best Newcomer award bestowed to the venue itself, which has become a major London force since opening in May 2004 (See News, 28 Nov 2005).

George Maguire, James Lomas and Liam Mower – the three boys who originated the title role in Billy Elliot on stage – also gathered together this week to collect their Theatregoers’ Choice Award for Ms London Newcomer of the Year, which they collectively won with an overwhelming 45% of the category vote.

All were excited by their joint win. Maguire said: "The whole experience of being in Billy Elliot has been amazing and to receive an award like this makes it all worthwhile. I just feel great about it. My mum’s here as well, so we’re all celebrating today."

"It's been wicked getting an award,” added Lomas. “But we worked together as a team and on that massive big stage as well. It's been wicked!" And Mower agreed: "Yes, it wasn't just me or just one of us who won this – we all did it together."

The boys’ prize brought Billy Elliot’s Theatregoers’ Choice Award wins to a total of four. The show also won Best Supporting Actress in a Musical (Ann Emery), Best Choreographer (Peter Darling) and the coveted Best New Musical. It has also won Best Musical at both the Evening Standard and Critics’ Circle Awards to date and has received nine nominations in this year’s Laurence Olivier Awards, which are announced on 26 February 2006 (See News, 18 Jan 2006).

James Lomas, George Maguire & Liam Mower with their Newcomer of the Year awards

The boys chat to Radio’s Roger Foss

The Menier’s Danielle Tarento & Lucy McNally accept Best Off-West End production
for Sunday in the Park with George

To view the full list of winners & nominees & voting percentages, click here. And look out for more awards presentations over the coming days & weeks.