The launch party for this year’s eighth annual Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers’ Choice Awards, the only major theatre prize-giving to be decided by members of the public, is shaping up to be the most star-studded to date. The event, at which all of those artists and shows in the awards running will be announced, takes place at Café de Paris at lunchtime on Friday 7 December 2007.

Concert entertainment

In addition to the previously announced Elaine Paige OBE, the “first lady of British musical theatre” (See News, 23 Nov 2007), guest presenters who will help us announce the shortlists are Michael Ball (currently starring in blockbuster Broadway musical import Hairspray), Roger Lloyd Pack (about to transfer to the West End in the Menier Chocolate Factory revival of Dealer's Choice) and John Gordon Sinclair (soon to open in Alan Ayckbourn’s Absurd Person Singular) and, on behalf of this year’s adopted charity Mousetrap Theatre Projects, Janie Dee (currently starring in Shadowlands opposite Charles Dance).

As part of the nominations presentation, a short concert celebrating musical contributions to the 2007 West End year will be held. In one of their first London stage performances, Teatro, impresario Jonathan Shalit’s new musical theatre answer to opera’s Il Divo, will sing Guys and Dolls standard “Luck Be a Lady” from their debut album, released on 26 November. The four-strong group comprises Stephen Rahman Hughes (of Bombay Dreams fame), Simon Bailey, Andrew Alexander and Jeremiah James. Teatro aims to capitalise on the mainstream interest generated in musical theatre by the success of this year’s duelling reality TV shows Any Dream Will Do and Grease Is the Word.

Two-time Olivier Award winner Henry Goodman will perform “If I Were a Rich Man” from Fiddler on the Roof, in which he plays Tevye in Lindsay Posner’s critically acclaimed Sheffield Crucible production, currently running at the Savoy Theatre. Emma Williams and Kelly Price, who star as Susan and Roberta Glass in the just-opened screen-to-stage adaptation of Desperately Seeking Susan at the Novello Theatre, will sing Blondie hit “Dreaming” from the show.

Danny Bayne and Susan McFadden, who won the ITV’s Grease Is the Word to play the roles of Danny Zuko and Sandy Dumbrowski in the current revival of Grease at the Piccadilly Theatre, will duet one of the musical’s most enduring hits, “You’re the One That I Want”. And, in commemoration of The Phantom of the Opera’s 21st birthday, Robyn North and Leila Benn Harris, who share the role of Christine, will perform a special version of “Think of Me”. The concert is produced by Stuart Piper on behalf of Whatsonstage.com



Top Left-Right: Henry Goodman in Fiddler on the Roof, Teatro,
Susan McFadden and Danny Bayne in Grease
Bottom Left-Right: Kelly Price and Emma Williams in Desperately
Seeking Susan
, Leila Benn Harris and Robyn North

Attendees & voting

With RSVPs still flooding in, amongst those so far confirmed to attend the event on 7 December are: Abi Finley, Adam Levy, Alexandra Silber, Amanda Drew, Aoife Mulholland, Andrea Riseborough, Angela Rippon, Anthony Drewe, Anthony Andrews, Belinda Lang, Ben James Ellis, Bertie Carvel, Beverley Klein, Caroline O’Connor, Charlotte Randle, Chris Grierson, Clint Dyer, Clive Carter, Damian Humbley, Daniel Boys, David Sturzaker, David Eldridge, David Babani, David Lan, Dean Elliott, Dean Collinson, Desmond Barritt, Elena Roger, Emma Cunniffe, Frances Ruffelle, Gareth Valentine, George Stiles, Graham Bickley, Helen Baker, Indhu Rubasingham, Jack Shepherd, Jamie Doyle, Janet Brown, Jason Pennycooke, Jay Webb, Jean Marsh, Jennifer Ellison, Joe Penhall, John Rogan, Jonathan Cecil, Jonathan Harvey, Joseph Alessi, Joshua Dallas, Juliet Rylance, Kate Fleetwood, Kerry Michael, Kirsty Besterman, Lara Pulver, Laura Wade, Leanne Jones, Leon Lopez, Lewis Bradley, Lia Williams, Lindsay Posner, Lisa Dillon, Lisa Goldman, Lloyd Hutchinson, Lorraine Bruce, Lucy Briers, Luke Evans, Lynda Baron, Lynda Bellingham, Madeleine Lloyd Webber, Malcolm Sinclair, Mariah Gale, Mark Gatiss, Melanie La Barrie, Michael Grandage, Michael Lesslie, Michael Therriault, Michelle Antrobus, Moira Buffini, Monica Dolan, Natalie Grady, Neil McDermott, Nickolas Grace, Nicolas Kent, Nigel Lindsay, Pam Ferris, Patrick Kielty, Paul Baker, Paul Keating, Philip Voss, Preeya Kalidas, Ralf Little, Rob Howell, Robert Bathurst, Roger Michell, Roy Williams, Rudi Dharmalingham, Rupert Goold, Sally Dexter, Sally Tatum, Samuel Adamson, Samuel West, Saskia Reeves, Sean Kingsley, Stephen Hagan, Stephen Tompkinson, Summer Strallen, Sylvester McCoy, Tamara Harvey, Thomas Wheatley, Tilly Tremayne, Tracie Bennett, Tracy Ann Oberman, Trystan Gravelle and William Hoyland. Also in attendance will be leading producers and other key figures from the theatre industry. (NOTE TO INVITEES: If you have not yet RSVPd, please do so asap as space is limited!)

The nominations phase of this year’s Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers’ Choice Awards commenced on the website on Monday 5 November. All professional productions, from Fringe to the West End, opened in London between 1 December 2006 and 30 November 2007 are eligible for nomination. Productions opened during December 2007 will be considered as part of next year’s awards. Shortlists will be announced at the Café de Paris event on 7 December, with final voting continuing on the website throughout December and January and the eventual winners announced in February 2008.

In a season that’s seen big musicals – including Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Hairspray, Grease, The Lord of the Rings, Desperately Seeking Susan, Rent and Fiddler on the Roof – as well as classic plays, a surfeit of Shakespeare and acclaimed performances from Daniel Radcliffe, Maggie Smith, Richard Griffiths, Orlando Bloom, Diana Rigg, Michael Ball, Jessica Lange, Patrick Stewart, Stockard Channing, Charles Dance, Billie Piper, Richard Schiff, Anne-Marie Duff, John Simm, Kristin Scott Thomas, Paterson Joseph, Christian Slater, Rosamund Pike, Penelope Wilton, Toby Stephens, Kate Fleetwood and many many others, this year’s Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers’ Choice Awards is sure to be a hotly contested competition.

Charity & sponsors

The Café de Paris event is held in aid of this year’s adopted charity, Mousetrap Theatre Projects, founded by Sir Stephen Waley-Cohen to give disadvantaged young people affordable access to the best of London’s live theatre. Every year, Mousetrap takes some 7,500 young people to the theatre. This year, the charity is celebrating its tenth anniversary.

First Magazine, the celebrity and lifestyle newsstand weekly recently launched by emap, is media partner for this year’s Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers’ Choice Awards. Our other headline sponsors indicate the strength of industry-wide support for the audience-decided awards. 2008 sponsors include: Superbreak, the market leader for short breaks, including theatre breaks, throughout the UK; the West End’s two largest marketing and advertising agencies, aka and Dewynters; Nick Hern Books, the UK’s leading independent theatre publishers and performing rights licensors; and primary theatre and event ticketing providers, See Tickets and Ticketmaster. For more information on all of our sponsors, please visit our awards microsite.

CLICK HERE TO NOMINATE YOUR FAVOURITES!

- by Terri Paddock