The shortlists for the fifth annual Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers’ Choice Awards, the only major theatre awards wholly voted for by the paying public, are announced today. Following this afternoon’s star-studded launch party, held at Planet Hollywood (See News, 1 Nov 2004), the shortlists will be published online here at Whatsonstage.com, with voting for the eventual winners opening from tomorrow, 1 December 2004.

Representatives from all of 2004’s biggest shows will join this afternoon’s celebrations, including The Producers, The Woman in White, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Festen, The History Boys, Sweeney Todd, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Journey’s End, Fully Committed, Simply Heavenly and, just opened last night, Grand Hotel.

Amongst those individual performers due to attend the launch party are: Christian Slater, Frances Barber, Mackenzie Crook, Patrick Stewart, Richard Griffiths, David Soul, Marcia Warren, Jane Asher, Leigh Zimmerman, Conleth Hill, Les Dennis, Caroline Langrishe, Janie Dee, Adrian Lukis, Michael Simkins, Rupert Wickham, Dominic Cooper, Mark Setlock, Daniel Evans, Christian Coulson, David Calder, Deborah Findlay, Gilz Terera, Mario Kombou, Anna Carteret, Hattie Morahan, Liz Smith, Penny Downie, Deven May, Rosemary Ashe, Serena Evans, Daniel Flynn, Rebecca Vere, Emma Williams, Sally Dexter, Lisa Dillon, Nadim Sawalha, Geoffrey Streatfield, Joanna Riding, Amanda Drew, Ruby Turner, Rhashan Stone, Mark Bazeley, Rory Kinnear, Lisa Palfrey, Claire Rushbrook, Angela Christian, Martin Crewes, Oliver Darley, Edward Petherbridge, Paul Hegarty, John Light, Karen Mann, Kelly Brook and Billy Zane.

Each year as part of the Awards event, Whatsonstage.com highlights the work of one outstanding arts-related charity. This year’s adopted charity is the Drake Music Project, which uses technology to provide opportunities for disabled people to explore, compose and perform their own music. The launch party will also be attended by patron Jools Holland, the jazz musician, broadcaster and former Squeeze band member, on behalf of the Drake Music Project (See News, 1 Nov 2004).

In addition to Planet Hollywood, which continues its three-year association with the Awards and lends its name to the Theatre Event of the Year prize, other sponsors of the fifth annual Awards are: for the second year, playtext publisher Samuel French, naming the Best Play Revival Award; marketing and distribution company, London Calling, naming Best Director; and Ms London magazine, naming London Newcomer of the Year. Voting for the eventual winners will run online through to 31 January 2005 with the winners announced in early February.

- by Terri Paddock