“King of the Jungle” Christopher Biggins will join Sheridan Smith to host this year’s Whatsonstage.com Awards Concert. The ceremony, at which the winners in this year’s tenth annual “theatregoers’ choice” accolades will be announced, is held in aid of this year’s adopted charity Theatre Royal Haymarket Masterclass at 7pm on Sunday 14 February 2010 at the West End’s Prince of Wales Theatre. The 2010 Whatsonstage.com Awards cover the best of the 2009 theatregoing year.

Biggins, of course, was a showbiz legend long before his triumphs on I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!. His credits include everything from the Royal Shakespeare Company to West End musicals and myriad pantomime dames on stage, and TV classics such as I Claudius, Poldark and Porridge on screen. Plus, he’s a regular theatregoer – and favourite first night guest – himself.

Speaking about this year’s presenters, Whatsonstage.com editorial director Terri Paddock said: “We are immensely grateful to both Sheridan and Christopher for overseeing proceedings this year. And the fact that it’s on Valentine’s Day, no less, seems highly appropriate since they are both so well loved by everyone at Whatsonstage.com, not to mention the rest of Theatreland. Thank you, Christopher and Sheridan!”

In other Concert news, Jodie Prenger, one of this year’s Award nominees for Oliver!, will be showing her non-Nancy side by singing “Losing My Mind” from Stephen Sondheim’s 1971 classic Follies, in honour of the composer-lyricist’s 80th birthday this year. And Alexia Khadime, currently starring as Elphaba in Wicked, will sing “The Wizard and I” from the blockbuster at the Apollo Victoria, which has previously won five Whatsonstage.com Awards and has been shortlisted again in this year’s new birthday category for long-runners, Best West End Show.

Newly confirmed, the evening will also include performances from: the cast of the Union Theatre’s all-male revival of Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance, nominated for Best Off-West End Production and transferring in April to Wilton’s Music Hall; rock-chick quartet Woman (aka West End divas Mazz Murray, Anna Jane Casey, Emma Kershaw and Gina Murray) debuting their single “I’m a Woman”; Michael Xavier singing from Dougal Irvine’s In Touch from the Perfect Pitch new musical showcase (which is supported annually by Whatsonstage.com); and Lucy May Barker, the former Spring Awakening star who opens this week in Really Old, Like Forty Five at the National, accompanied by the West End Gospel Choir, belting out Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” (newly minted for younger audience members thanks to Broadway musical Rock of Ages as well as its use on X Factor and Glee).

Amongst the other performers now added to the line-up are: Siobhan McCarthy, Stephen Carlile, Lorna Want, Adam Ellis and Arts Educational dancers. They join, as previously announced (See News, 19 Jan 2010), the company of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Hannah Waddingham, Charlotte Wakefield and Les MiserablesNancy Sullivan as well as previous Whatsonstage.com Award winners Leanne Jones, Ryan Molloy and Sally Ann Triplett. What a night!

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 choreography by Andrew Wright. It’s produced by Stuart Piper and Jason Haigh-Ellery on behalf of Whatsonstage.com, with general and production management by Jon Bath for Cole Kitchenn Ltd.

And who will be collecting trophies? Voting has now closed – with a record 46,000 people having taken part! (See News, 1 Feb 2010) - but the winners remain a secret until the night! Amongst the nominees so far rsvped to attend the event are: Alison Steadman, Alistair McGowan, Amanda Drew, Carol Macready, Charlotte Wakefield, Clive Carter, Daniel Crossley, David Dawson, Fiona Shaw, Gabriel Vick, Hannah Waddingham, Ian McKellen, Jane Horrocks, Jez Butterworth, Jodie Prenger, John Shrapnel, Julian Ovenden, Kate Fleetwood, Lesley Garrett, Lesley Sharp, Mackenzie Crook, Mark Rylance, Miriam Margolyes, Nicholas Hoult, Oliver Thornton, Patina Miller, Patrick Stewart, Peter McKintosh, Roger Allam, Rupert Goold, Samantha Spiro and William Dudley.

As with December’s Launch Party at Cafe de Paris, 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.

Assuming you’re not too late! - Concert tickets, ranging from £20-£42.50, can be booked by phone on 0844 482 5133 or online at www.whatsonstage.com/concert.


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