The shortlists for the fifth annual 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, the shortlists will be published online here at, with voting for the eventual winners opening from tomorrow, 1 December 2005.

Midweek matinees notwithstanding, representatives from many of 2005’s biggest shows will join this afternoon’s celebrations, including Billy Elliot, Mary Poppins, The Big Life, Elmina’s Kitchen, Don Carlos, A Few Good Men, Mary Stuart, Richard II, As You Like It, Shoot the Crow, Glorious!, Some Girl(s), Telstar, Otherwise Engaged, Pillars of the Community, Scrooge, Coram Boy, Death of a Salesman, Tick Tick Boom, Two Thousand Years, My Name Is Rachel Corrie, Henry IV and, just opened last night, Sunday in the Park with George.

Amongst those individual performers due to attend today’s launch party are: Rob Lowe, Suranne Jones, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Stephen Daldry, Sheila Hancock, Haydn Gwynne, Tim Healey, Alan Rickman, Helen McCrory, Anthony Head, Conleth Hill, Lesley Manville, Claire Price, Gary Kemp, Rosemary Ashe, Amanda Drew, Amanda Ryan, Peter Wight, Daniel Evans, Anna-Jane Casey, Charlotte Emmerson, Una Stubbs, Janie Dee, Andrew Scott, Jefferson Mays, Barry Howard, Michael Praed, Rolf Saxon, Clint Dyer, Tameka Empson, Saskia Reeve, Jenny Agutter, Michelle Ryan, Toby Young, Rhashan Stone, Julian Glover, Isla Blair, Charlotte Randle, Daniel Kramer, Earl Carpenter, Clint Dyer, Joseph Millson, Rebecca Johnson, Liza Sadovy, Frances Ruffelle, Giles Terera, Michael O'biora, Graham Bickley, Jason Pennycooke, Laura Wade, David Eldridge, Simon Stephens, Roger Lloyd Pack, Robert Delamere, Sara Crowe, Scarlet Strallen, Sean Foley, Tamara Harvey, John Gordon Sinclair, Peter Quilter, Lucy Bailey, Ian Gelder, Richard Baron, Sally Ann Triplett, Phelim McDermott and Lee Simpson.

Each year as part of the Awards event, highlights the work of one outstanding arts-related charity. This year’s adopted charity is Sophie’s Silver Lining Fund, which will be represented at Planet Hollywood by patrons David Haig (who recently completed his run in Mary Poppins) and Jenny Agutter. Also taking part in the awards presentations today at Planet Hollywood will be Rosemary Squire - the new president of the Society of London Theatre and co-founder and executive director of the Ambassador Theatre Group, one of the UK’s largest theatre owners - who will speak about the resilience of the West End post-7 July.

Voting for the final winners of the 2005/6 Theatregoers' Choice Awards commences from tomorrow, Thursday 1 December 2005 and continues through December and January with winners announced online simultaneously with the live Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards ceremony – a demonstration of the spectrum of popular and critical opinion – at midday on 31 January 2006. Each week over the next two months, a different awards field will be highlighted on the site.

Every registered voter will be automatically entered into a prize draw to win a luxury three-day theatre break for two, courtesy of one of our sponsors, Superbreak. What’s more, every voter will also receive a £20 voucher to redeem against any Superbreak purchase on

In addition to Planet Hollywood and Superbreak, the sponsors of this year’s Theatregoers’ Choice Awards are playtext publisher Samuel French, arts marketing solution provider London Calling, and the capital magazine Ms London.

- by Terri Paddock