The ninth annual Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers' Choice Awards were announced last night at a star-studded concert at the West End's 1200-seat Prince of Wales Theatre. It's the second year running that the concert has been held to celebrate the award winners, and it proved a resounding, sell-out success, capping a year which has seen a record-breaking number of votes – over 35,000 in total (See News, 15 February 2009).

It proved to be a great year for the Jersey Boys, who finished top in all four of their nominated categories – including the Waldorf Hilton Best New Musical and See Tickets Best Actor in a Musical for Ryan Molloy. One of the original Four Seasons Bob Gaudio flew over from the States specially to collect the Best New Musical award, and he watched his on-stage doppelgänger Stephen Ashfield collect the award for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical. The boys then rounded off the night with a storming Four Seasons medley, as streamers rained down on the audience.

Eddie Izzard got the evening off to a rousing start, receiving one of the biggest ovations of the night as he took to the stage to collect his Best Solo Performance award. And Edward Bennett, who in December became one of the most famous understudies ever when he stepped in to replace David Tennant in Hamlet, also enjoyed a rapturous reception when he joined Gregory Doran onstage to accept the AKA Theatre Event of the Year award for Tennant's return to the stage (“he couldn't be here himself because I've kicked him in the back again” joked Bennett).

The concert was hosted for the second year running by James Corden and Sheridan Smith, who once again provided the evening with no shortage of scandalous humour (probably best not to recount Corden's comments regarding Lee Mead and an Avenue Q puppet). One of the biggest laughs came when Corden disparagingly introduced the new category of Best Lighting Designer, only to find himself suddenly plunged into darkness (it must be one of the few times anyone's found themselves upstaged by a lighting technician).

Other winners on the night included music legend Ray Davies, who was on hand to collect his Mobius Best Off-West End Production award for his musical Come Dancing, and Michael Grandage, who needed several assistants to help cart off his stash of awards for Best Shakespearean Production, EMG Best Play Revival and Seatchoice.com Best Director.

The Donmar also enjoyed success in the Best Actor category for Kenneth Branagh in Ivanov (Lucy Briers collected the award on his behalf) and Tom Hiddleston, who acknowledged his fellow nominees Kevin R McNally and Malcolm Sinclair in accepting his Best Supporting Actor in a Play award for his performances in Othello and Ivanov.

Other winners on hand to collect their awards were Sofia Escobar (Viagogo Best Actress in a Musical), Tracie Bennett (Best Supporting Actress in a Musical), Sophie Thompson (Best Supporting Actress in a Play), Katy Stephens (Spotlight Best Actress in a Play), the cast of Into the Hoods (Best Ensemble Performance), David Eldridge (Nick Hern Books Best New Play), Klara Zieglerova (Best Set Designer), Malcolm Rippeth (White Light Best Lighting Designer) and Lynne Page (Best Choreographer).

- by Theo Bosanquet

For the full list of winners visit our awards microsite, and check
back soon for further coverage including photos & full speeches