Richard Schiff and Richard Fleeshman, who will both be making their West End debuts in the new year, and Amy Nuttall, who recently joined the cast of Guys and Dolls, will help announce the nominations in this year’s seventh annual Theatregoers’ Choice Awards, the only major theatre prize-giving to be decided by members of the public. This year’s party, held at Café De Paris this Friday 1 December 2006, also marks’s tenth birthday and as such, is bigger and better than ever.

In addition to the guest presenters, a special concert is being mounted, also celebrating the fact that 2006 is the biggest year for musicals in London in living memory – with more than 20 major musical productions hitting the West End alone.

The concert line-up comprises (See News, 10 Nov 2006): How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? semi-finalist Abi Finley, now on stage in Tim Rice’s Blondel, reprising her performance of Cabaret’s “Maybe This Time”, one of her showstopper’s from the TV talent competition; Daddy Cool’s Melanie La Barrie, introduced by her fellow cast member and So Solid Crew rapper Harvey, doing “Can’t Stand the Rain”; Sheridan Smith and Paul Keating doing their duet “Suddenly Seymour” from Little Shop of Horrors; Evita’s Lorna Want singing “Another Suitcase in Another Hall”, accompanied by fellow cast members Leila Benn Harris, Jodie Jacobs and Robyn North; and a resounding finale from Spamalot’s Hannah Waddingham singing “Whatever Happened to My Part”. The concert, produced by Stuart Piper, will be staged by Sunday in the Park with George's Tara Wilkinson with Dancing in the Streets' Iain Vince Gatt as musical supervisor.

WOS presenters Richard Schiff, Amy Nuttall & Richard Fleeshman.

Schiff, best known as Toby Ziegler from the multi award-winning American TV series The West Wing, is in town this week ahead of his appearance next year in the UK premiere of Glen Berger’s one-man show Underneath the Lintel, at the West End’s Duchess Theatre from 12 February to 14 April 2007 (previews from 7 February).

Coronation Street’s teen heartthrob Richard Fleeshman makes his stage debut in the Sherman Brothers 1940s-set musical comedy Over Here at the West End’s Apollo Theatre for 49 performances only, from 8 January to 16 February 2007, ahead of a brief regional tour (See News, 20 Nov 2006). Amy Nuttall, who crossed over from TV’s Emmerdale to stage success playing Eliza Doolittle in the tour of My Fair Lady last year, joined the cast of Guys and Dolls at the Piccadilly Theatre last month.

Amongst the many other stars so far confirmed to attend the party are: Rosamund Pike, Sinead Cusack, Sheila Hancock, Alan Cumming, Patrick Stewart, Lisa Dillon, Reece Shearsmith, Olivia Williams, Rhashan Stone, Chris New, Daniel Evans, Christopher Sieber, Nigel Planer, Billy Zane, Kelly Brook, Janet McTeer, David Haig, Janie Dee, Ian Gelder, Rufus Norris, Chris Carmack, Harriet Thorpe, James Dreyfus, Harvey, Martine McCutcheon, Michelle Collins, Matthew Marsh, Clive Rowe, Kika Markham, Martin Sherman, Colin Teevan, Chris Grierson, Laura Michelle Kelly, Jenna Russell, Ian Gelder, Amanda Harris, June Watson, Philip Voss, Michael Simkins, David Eldridge, David Lan, Anthony Clark, Sean Campion, Nicky Henson, Adrian Scarborough, Amanda Drew, Jeremy Sams, Conleth Hill, Jim Norton, Andrew Garfield, Adie Allen, Matthew White, Anthony Drewe, Jimmy Akingbola, Dawn Hope, Jenny Jules, Ray Panthaki, Sally Ann Triplett, Dominic Cooke, Howard Brenton, Tamara Harvey, Laura Wade, Tony Rohr, Charles Edwards, Rupert Degas, Nina Raine, Isabella Calthorpe, David Farley, Monica Dolan, Sarah Ball, Talulah Riley, David Rintoul, Issy van Randwyck, Pippa Bennett-Warner, Perry Millward, Sarah Woodward, Nora Cole, Charlotte Emmerson, Christopher Godwin, Martin Ellis, Dominic Rowan, Adam James, Nicole Ansari-Cox, Simon Farquhar, OT Fagbenle, Michelle Gayle, Abi Titmuss, Patsy Palmer, Caprice and How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? finalists Simona Armstrong, Aoife Mulholland, Leanne Dobinson, Meliz Serman and Laura Sicurello.

Our charity & sponsors

The Café de Paris event is held in aid of this year’s adopted charity, S.A.F.E. (Sponsored Arts for Education), which was co-founded by Alan Rickman and Ian Holm amongst others. S.A.F.E. educates and informs African communities about vital health and social issues by using the arts, primarily theatre, to help break the stigma, silence and discrimination surrounding HIV/AIDS. By working with the best young artists, S.A.F.E. also provides much-needed employment for the arts community and recognises the importance of culture to all communities worldwide.

Now, the UK’s best-loved celebrity magazine, is media partner for this year’s Theatregoers’ Choice Awards. Other headline sponsors include: Superbreak, the market leader for short breaks throughout the UK; Nick Hern Books, the UK’s leading independent theatre publishers and performing rights licensors; celebrity hairdresser Stuart Phillips;Shakespeare4Kidz, the national Shakespeare company for children and young people; and Campo Viejo, the number one Spanish wine brand.

Nominations for this year’s Theatregoers’ Choice Awards, covering the year from 1 December 2005, conclude on the site this week. The shortlists, as determined by theatregoer submissions, will be announced at the Café de Paris event on Friday. Voting for the eventual winners will take place during December and January with results announced in early February 2007.

- by Terri Paddock

To nominate your favourite performances & productions
& visit the awards microsite, click here!

To enter our competition to WIN one of five pairs of tickets to the awards event
& tenth birthday party on 1 December, click here!
(Competition open to Theatregoers’ Club members only.)