Connie Fisher celebrates her second major prize in less than a fortnight by scooping London Newcomer of the Year in the seventh annual Whatsonstage.com Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers’ Choice Awards, announced today (See News, 1 Dec 2006). However, unlike in the Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards (See News, 30 Jan 2007), in which she shared the accolade of Most Promising Newcomer with Andrew Garfield, Fisher is sole winner in the equivalent Whatsonstage.com category, carrying 46% of the public vote to beat off competition from Garfield and four other worthy nominees.

Meanwhile, theatregoers named How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?, the BBC One reality TV casting programme that plucked Fisher from obscurity and turned her into a West End star, as the Theatre Event of the Year, while Andrew Lloyd Webber’s £3 million production of The Sound of Music, in which Fisher now stars as Maria von Trapp, was awarded Best Musical Revival.

Andrew Lloyd Webber said today: “When you try something new in theatre, there are always those who will criticise and How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? was no exception. But the whole experience has been so worthwhile. Not only have we achieved our goal of finding a new star for The Sound of Music, but so many of the finalists have gone on to secure their first professional roles in musical theatre, as a direct result of the show. I am hugely proud of the talent the show unearthed and of the fact that we showcased musical theatre in front of millions of TV viewers every week for twelve weeks.”

LiveNation chief executive David Ian, co-producer of The Sound of Music and one of the TV programme’s judges, added: "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? was one of those rare occasions when everything gelled together to create a true phenomenon - great for the TV industry, great for the theatre industry and truly wonderful for Connie Fisher, one of the most talented newcomers to be discovered in decades."

Fisher was also nominated for Best Actress in a Musical but lost out to the dominating Tony Award-winning performance of American Idina Menzel as the green-skinned Wicked Witch of the West in Wicked. The Broadway import is the biggest winner in this year’s Theatregoers’ Choice Awards. In addition to Menzel’s win, it has scooped Best Supporting Actress in a Musical (Miriam Margolyes), Best Set Designer (Eugene Lee) and, last but not least, the coveted SUPERBREAK Best New Musical prize (with just over half of the overall vote).

Wicked’s executive producer Michael McCabe said: “It is very exciting that Wicked has been honoured by the theatregoing public whose support of, and reaction to, the show has been so incredible from the outset. We are thrilled to have won four Theatregoers’ Choice Awards and particularly delighted to have been named Best New Musical by such an overwhelming percentage of the vote.”

Today’s accolades for Fisher, Menzel and their respective blockbuster shows are viewed by many theatregoers – over 12,000 of whom voted in this year’s awards – as retribution for their omissions from the 2007 Laurence Olivier Awards shortlists (announced on 18 January ahead of the Oliviers ceremony next Sunday, 18 February). In the Oliviers nominations, Wicked is not in the running for Best New Musical or any performance categories, while The Sound of Music merited only a single nomination, for Outstanding Musical Production.

Two other big-hitters ignored by the Olivier judges also scored major victories today. Though she’ll have to wait to find out whether she’ll grab an Oscar for her screen turn in Notes on a Scandal, Judi Dench celebrates another Best Actress win, for last summer’s stage role in Noël Coward’s Hay Fever. And for a second consecutive year (he won for Richard II in 2006), Kevin Spacey nabbed the Theatregoers’ Choice Best Actor prize, this time for his role in Eugene O’Neill’s A Moon for the Misbegotten, which opens in New York in April as the Old Vic’s first Broadway transfer since Spacey took over as artistic director in 2003.

Spacey commented today: “It’s very gratifying for me personally to receive this award, but even more so for us as a company because it represents an entire production…. And now we have the joy of taking A Moon for the Misbegotten to Broadway as the first Old Vic Company production on Broadway. It’s very exciting - and to receive this just before we set off for New York is just wonderful.”

Regarding her award, Dame Judi added: “Recently an American friend asked me, ‘Does the audience make a difference?’ I replied, ‘The audience makes ALL the difference. It is, after all, who we do it for.’ I’m delighted to win this award, particularly as it’s given by theatregoers.”

In other play categories, Tom Stoppard’s Rock ‘n’ Roll clocked up its third major Best New Play trophy (after wins at the Evening Standard and Critics’ Circle ceremonies) and will be hoping to make it a full complement of four at next week’s Oliviers. Trevor Nunn was also named the Theatregoers’ Choice for Best Director for his work on Rock ‘n’ Roll as well as his musical adaptation of The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess.

Elsewhere in the Whatsonstage.com Awards, the Menier Chocolate Factory won Best Off-West End Production for a third year in a row for its staging of musical comedy Little Shop of Horrors, which is now transferring to the West End as its previous winning productions of Sunday in the Park with George and Fully Committed also did.

And another of the year’s mega Broadway musical imports, Spamalot, took prizes for two of its British stars: Tom Goodman-Hill won Best Supporting Actor in a Musical; and Tim Curry, who originated the role of King Arthur in the US as well as the West End, was voted Best Actor in a Musical. The Monty Python hit returned the Cheshire-born Curry to the London stage for the first time in 20 years.

Speaking from his home in Los Angeles, where he returned to last month, Tim Curry said he was particularly happy that his award was decided by “theatre geeks - in other words, people who have a genuine and ongoing, not to say obsessive, interest in the theatre itself, as I do.” He then recalled: “Phyllida Law (mother of Emma Thompson) came to see Spamalot and said that she had not seen an audience welcome an actor back home like that since Robert Donat came home after the war. I certainly felt highly blessed that you hadn’t forgotten me.”

Other big names that triumphed today include Patrick Stewart (Best Solo Performance for his adaptation of A Christmas Carol), Patrick Swayze (Best Takeover in a Role for Guys and Dolls), Colm Meaney (Best Supporting Actor for A Moon for the Misbegotten), the cast of Avenue Q (Best Ensemble Performance) and the Kathleen Turner-led production of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Best Play Revival).

The Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers’ Choice Awards are unique in that they’re judged by the general public – this year, over 12,000 theatregoers decided the contenders and eventual winners in all 20+ categories. Nominations were announced and voting launched at a star-studded event held at Café de Paris on 1 December. Now, the UK’s best-loved celebrity magazine, is media partner for the 2007 Theatregoers’ Choice Awards. Other sponsors include: Superbreak, the market leader for short breaks throughout the UK; Nick Hern Books, the UK’s leading independent theatre publishers and performing rights licensors; celebrity hairdresser Stuart Phillips; Shakespeare4Kidz, the national Shakespeare company for children and young people; and Campo Viejo, the number one Spanish wine brand.

TO VIEW VOTING PERCENTAGES, ACCEPTANCE SPEECHES & SELECTED PHOTOS, VISIT OUR THEATREGOERS’ CHOICE AWARDS MICROSITE.


THE FULL LIST OF 2007 WINNERS & NOMINEES

Winners are denoted in bold at the top of each category.

BEST ACTRESS:

  • Judi DenchHay Fever at the Theatre Royal Haymarket
  • Eve BestA Moon for the Misbegotten at the Old Vic
  • Felicity KendalAmy’s View at the Garrick
  • Kathleen TurnerWho’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at the Apollo
  • Rosamund PikeSummer & Smoke at the Apollo
  • Sinead CusackRock ‘n’ Roll at the Royal Court & Duke of York’s

    BEST ACTOR:

  • Kevin SpaceyA Moon for the Misbegotten at the Old Vic

  • Alan CummingBent at Trafalgar Studios
  • David HaigDonkeys’ Years at the Comedy
  • Iain GlenThe Crucible, RSC at the Gielgud
  • Michael Sheen & Frank LangellaFrost/Nixon at the Donmar Warehouse & Gielgud
  • Rufus SewellRock ‘n’ Roll at the Royal Court & Duke of York’s

    BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:

  • Helen SchlesingerThe Crucible, RSC at the Gielgud

  • Adie AllenThe Lightning Play at the Almeida
  • Alice EveRock ‘n’ Roll at the Royal Court & Duke of York’s
  • June WatsonSmaller at the Lyric
  • Nancy CarrollThe Voysey Inheritance at the NT Lyttelton
  • Sinead MatthewsThe Wild Duck at the Donmar Warehouse

    BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:

  • Colm MeaneyA Moon for the Misbegotten at the Old Vic

  • Andrew WoodallThe Voysey Inheritance at the NT Lyttelton
  • Con O’NeillSouthwark Fair at the NT Cottesloe
  • Mark HadfieldThérèse Raquin at the NT Lyttelton
  • Paterson JosephThe Royal Hunt of the Sun at the NT Olivier
  • Tony BellA Man for All Seasons at the Theatre Royal Haymarket

    BEST ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL:

  • Idina MenzelWicked at the Apollo Victoria

  • Connie FisherThe Sound of Music at the London Palladium
  • Elena RogerEvita at the Adelphi
  • Hannah WaddinghamSpamalot at the Palace
  • Jenna RussellSunday in the Park with George at Wyndham’s
  • Tonya PinkinsCaroline, or Change at the NT Lyttelton

    BEST ACTOR IN A MUSICAL:

  • Tim CurrySpamalot at the Palace

  • Alexander HansonThe Sound of Music at the London Palladium
  • Clarke PetersThe Gershwins’ Porgy & Bess at the Savoy
  • Daniel EvansSunday in the Park with George at Wyndham’s
  • James DreyfusCabaret at the Lyric
  • Philip QuastEvita at the Adelphi

    BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL:

  • Miriam MargolyesWicked at the Apollo Victoria

  • Anna FrancoliniCaroline, or Change at the NT Lyttelton
  • Lesley GarrettThe Sound of Music at the London Palladium
  • Nadia CooteDirty Dancing at the Aldwych
  • Sheila HancockCabaret at the Lyric
  • Summer StrallenThe Boy Friend at the Open Air

    BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A MUSICAL:

  • Tom Goodman-HillSpamalot at the Palace

  • Clive RoweCaroline, or Change at the NT Lyttelton
  • HarveyDaddy Cool at the Shaftesbury
  • Ian GelderThe Sound of Music at the London Palladium
  • Jay WebbSeven Brides for Seven Brothers at the Theatre Royal Haymarket
  • Matt RawleEvita at the Adelphi

    BEST SOLO PERFORMANCE:

  • Patrick StewartA Christmas Carol at the Albery

  • Greg HicksMissing Persons at Trafalgar Studios
  • Harold PinterKrapp’s Last Tape at the Royal Court Upstairs
  • Michael GambonEh Joe at the Duke of York’s
  • Robert LepageThe Andersen Project at the Barbican
  • Will AdamsdaleNotes from Underground at Trafalgar Studios

    BEST ENSEMBLE PERFORMANCE:

  • Avenue Q – at the Noel Coward

  • Burn/Chatroom/Citizenship – at the NT Cottesloe
  • Market Boy – at the NT Olivier
  • The 39 Steps – at the Tricycle & Criterion
  • The Canterbury Tales – RSC at the Gielgud
  • The Seafarer – at the NT Cottesloe

    BEST TAKEOVER IN A ROLE:

  • Patrick SwayzeGuys & Dolls at the Piccadilly

  • Darius DaneshChicago at the Adelphi
  • Nigel HarmanGuys & Dolls at the Piccadilly
  • Reece ShearsmithThe Producers at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane
  • Sally DexterBilly Elliot at the Victoria Palace
  • Scarlet StrallenMary Poppins at the Prince Edward

    NICK HERN BOOKS BEST NEW PLAY:

  • Rock ‘n’ Roll by Tom Stoppard – at the Royal Court & Duke of York’s

  • Blackbird by David Harrower – at the Albery
  • Frost/Nixon by Peter Morgan – at the Donmar Warehouse & Gielgud
  • In Extremis by Howard Brenton – at Shakespeare’s Globe
  • The Overwhelming by JT Rogers – at the NT Cottesloe
  • The Seafarer by Conor McPherson – at the NT Cottesloe

    BEST NEW COMEDY:

  • The 39 Steps by Patrick Barlow – at the Tricycle & Criterion

  • Piano/Forte by Terry Johnson – at the Royal Court
  • Smaller by Carmel Morgan – at the Lyric
  • Southwark Fair by Samuel Adamson – at the NT Cottesloe
  • The Lightning Play by Charlotte Jones – at the Almeida
  • Whipping It Up by Steve Thompson – at the Bush

    SUPERBREAK BEST NEW MUSICAL:

  • Wicked by Stephen Schwartz & Winnie Holzman – at the Apollo Victoria

  • Avenue Q by Jeff Marx & Robert Lopez – at the Noël Coward
  • Caroline, or Change by Tony Kushner & Jeanine Tesori – at the NT Lyttelton
  • Daddy Cool by Stephen Plaice & Amani Naphtali – at the Shaftesbury
  • Dirty Dancing by Eleanor Bergstein – at the Aldwych
  • Spamalot by Eric Idle & John Du Prez – at the Palace

    BEST PLAY REVIVAL:

  • Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? – at the Apollo

  • A Moon for the Misbegotten – at the Old Vic
  • A Voyage Round My Father – at the Donmar Warehouse & Wyndham’s
  • Donkeys’ Years – at the Comedy
  • See How They Run – at the Duchess
  • The Crucible – RSC at the Gielgud

    BEST MUSICAL REVIVAL:

  • The Sound of Music – at the London Palladium

  • Cabaret – at the Lyric
  • Evita – at the Adelphi
  • The Gershwins’ Porgy & Bess – at the Savoy
  • Sunday in the Park with George – at Wyndham’s
  • The Boy Friend – at the Open Air

    SHAKESPEARE 4 KIDZ BEST SHAKESPEAREAN PRODUCTION:

  • As You Like It – RSC at the Novello

  • Hamlet – English Touring Theatre at the New Ambassadors
  • King Lear – Maly Drama of St Petersburg at the Barbican
  • The Comedy of Errors – at the Globe
  • The Taming of the Shrew – at the Open Air
  • Titus Andronicus – at the Globe

    BEST DIRECTOR:

  • Trevor NunnPorgy & Bess at the Savoy & Rock ‘n’ Roll at the Royal Court & Duke of York’s

  • Declan DonnellanThe Changeling, Cheek by Jowl at the Barbican
  • Dominic CookeThe Crucible, RSC at the Gielgud
  • Jeremy SamsDonkeys’ Years at the Comedy, Little Britain Live at the Apollo Hammersmith & The Sound of Music at the London Palladium
  • Michael GrandageThe Wild Duck at the Donmar Warehouse, Evita at the Adelphi & Frost/Nixon at the Donmar Warehouse & Gielgud
  • Rufus NorrisTintin at the Barbican, Market Boy at the NT Olivier & Cabaret at the Lyric

    BEST SET DESIGNER:

  • Eugene LeeWicked at the Apollo Victoria

  • Christopher OramEvita at the Adelphi & Frost/Nixon at the Donmar Warehouse & Gielgud
  • David Farley & Timothy BirdSunday in the Park with George at Wyndham’s
  • Hildegard BechtlerThérèse Raquin at the NT Lyttelton & The Crucible, RSC at the Gielgud
  • Katrina LindsayMarket Boy at the NT Olivier & Cabaret at the Lyric
  • Robert JonesThe Sound of Music at the London Palladium

    BEST CHOREOGRAPHER:

  • Rob AshfordEvita at the Adelphi

  • Javier de FrutosCabaret at the Lyric
  • Karen BruceFootloose at the Novello
  • Kate ChampionDirty Dancing at the Aldwych
  • Sean Cheeseman & Lizzi GeeDaddy Cool at the Shaftesbury
  • Twyla TharpMovin’ Out at the Apollo Victoria

    STUART PHILLIPS LONDON NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR:

  • Connie Fisher - The Sound of Music at the London Palladium

  • Andrew GarfieldThe Overwhelming & Burn/Chatroom/Citizenship at the NT Cottesloe & Beautiful Thing at the Sound
  • Chris NewBent at Trafalgar Studios
  • Derek HoughFootloose at the Novello
  • Nina Raine (playwright) – Rabbit at the Old Red Lion & Trafalgar Studios
  • Pippa Bennett-WarnerCaroline, or Change at the NT Lyttelton

    BEST OFF WEST END PRODUCTION:

  • Little Shop of Horrors – at the Menier Chocolate Factory

  • Amadeus – at Wilton’s Music Hall
  • Beautiful Thing – at the Sound
  • Gladiator Games – at Theatre Royal Stratford East
  • Metamorphosis – at the Lyric Hammersmith
  • The Exonerated – at Riverside Studios

    BEST REGIONAL OR TOURING PRODUCTION:

  • Me & My Girl – on tour

  • A Number – at Sheffield Crucible
  • Black Watch – National Theatre of Scotland
  • Follies – at Northampton Theatre Royal
  • Nicholas Nickleby – at Chichester Festival Theatre
  • Unprotected – at Liverpool Everyman

    NOW THEATRE EVENT OF THE YEAR:

  • BBC One’s How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?, resulting in the West End’s first leading role to be cast by nationwide TV vote

  • The reopening of the Young Vic “on time and on budget”
  • The including its tribute night to John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger
  • The Royal Shakespeare Company’s year-long Complete Works Festival
  • The Sultan’s Elephant transforming the streets of London
  • The year of the musical – 20+ arrivals in 12 months

    Special mentions:

  • The History Boys conquering Broadway and the big screen
  • The “flash mob” in Trafalgar Square as part of the National Youth Theatre’s 50th anniversary celebrations
  • The reopening of the Roundhouse with Fuerzabruta

    TO VIEW VOTING PERCENTAGES, ACCEPTANCE SPEECHES & SELECTED PHOTOS, VISIT OUR THEATREGOERS’ CHOICE AWARDS MICROSITE.