Sheridan Smith, David Suchet, Zoe Wanamaker and Glee's Jonathan Groff are among the winners of the 11th annual Whatsonstage.com Awards, announced this evening (20 February 2011) during a star-studded concert at the West End's Prince of Wales Theatre (click here for a full list of winners).

Theatregoers voted for their favourites across 26 different award categories between 3 December, when the nominations were announced, and 31 January. This year over 45,000 voters logged on to have their say in the only prize-giving event for the theatre industry voted for purely by the ticket-buying public.

Broadway import Legally Blonde led the way with four awards, including Best New Musical and Best Choreographer (Jerry Mitchell). Legally Blonde’s leading ladies also triumphed, though it was Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Love Never Dies that took home the leading men spoils.

Awards co-host Sheridan Smith won Best Actress in a Musical for her performance as Elle Woods and her co-star Jill Halfpenny was named Best Supporting Actress in a Musical, while the Phantom himself from Love Never Dies, Ramin Karimloo, scooped Best Actor in a Musical and his co-star Joseph Millson, who plays his love rival Raoul, secured Best Supporting Actor in a Musical.

Another big winner was Les Misérables. Its epic 25th anniversary concert at The O2, which brought together over 500 past and present cast members, took home Theatre Event of the Year and Best Ensemble Performance, whilst the 25th anniversary production at the Barbican, also won Best Musical Revival.

Closely fought contest

The awards - hosted by Sheridan Smith, Christopher Biggins and Miranda Hart, in aid of this year’s charity The Theatrical Guild - saw Arthur Miller play All My Sons narrowly miss out on Best Play Revival, beaten by Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by only 14 votes. But the fantastic leading performances of All My Sons stars were rewarded, with David Suchet and Zoë Wanamaker, winning Best Actor and Best Actress in a Play respectively for their roles as husband and wife Joe and Kate Keller.

It was another Arthur Miller revival, Broken Glass, which helped Nigel Lindsay win Best Supporting Actor in a Play. Lindsay’s next challenge will be as the title ogre in the Broadway transfer of Shrek - The Musical, which has its UK premiere at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in June.

Shakespeare Globe’s world premiere production of Anne Boleyn by Howard Benton secured the historic venue its first Best New Play award. Brenton last won a Best Play prize at the 1985 Evening Standard Theatre Awards for Pravda, which he co-wrote with David Hare.

Glee star Jonathan Groff beat off strong competition for London Newcomer of the Year for his performance in Deathtrap at the Noel Coward, proving the power of the Gleeks is very much international.

Husband and wife Lee Mead and Denise Van Outen left empty-handed, beaten to Best Takeover in a Role by previous nominee, Rachel Tucker. Tucker co-starred with Mead in Wicked and competed in the BBC’s I’d Do Anything on which Van Outen was a judge. For a second year in a row, Wicked also won the prize for long-runners, Best West End Show.

'Crowd-pleasers'

Other popular winners included: Episodes’ star Tamsin Greig in The Little Dog Laughed at the Garrick, for which she collected the award for Best Supporting Actress in a Play; comedian and actress Meera Syal for her performance in Shirley Valentine, staged at the Menier Chocolate Factory, which won her the Best Solo Performance; the screen-to-stage adaptation of classic British sitcom Yes, Prime Minister, named Best New Comedy; and Joanna Scotcher as Best Set Designer for her work transforming the former Eurostar terminal at Waterloo Station into the set for The Railway Children.

OperaUpClose’s La Bohème at the Cock Tavern in Kilburn and Soho, won Best Off-West End Production, adding to its record as the longest continually-running production of Puccini’s opera. Strictly Come Dancing judge Craig Revel Horwood collected the gong for Best Regional Production for his touring actor-musician revival of Chess, which he directed and choreographed.

Terri Paddock, editorial director of Whatsonstage.com, said: “The Whatsonstage.com Awards is now one of the most important theatrical events in the West End – entirely led by the public with wholehearted support from artists. Unlike other awards, the Whatsonstage.com Awards are decided solely by the audience, who are directly responsible for keeping the West End thriving.

“It is always interesting to see how the choices of the theatregoing public differ from the critics and industry pundits who determine other theatre awards. Unlike the Oliviers and others, which the likes of the Royal Court, Donmar and National routinely dominate, in our awards this year, only two of 26 prizes have gone to the subsidised sector. Our 45,000-plus theatregoer voters have instead, once again, concentrated their accolades on the strong work produced by the commercial sector. It’s fantastic to see crowd-pleasers like Legally Blonde, Les Misérables and Yes, Prime Minister receive the recognition they deserve, alongside smaller but equally worthwhile productions like Broken Glass and Anne Boleyn.”

For the full list of winners & further coverage – including photos & video - visit our awards microsite.

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