Unlike the main 2010 categories, covering new productions opened during the Awards year from 1 December 2008 to 30 November 2009, all current West End productions are eligible to be nominated for Best West End Show and, in honour of the tenth birthday and in recognition of just how many hits that may take in, the shortlist will be extended to ten shows rather than the usual six.
The “10 for 10” list is likely to take in many of the blockbusters that have arrived during the decade since the Awards were founded – including previous Whatsonstage.com Award winners, such as Hairspray (a record seven wins in 2008), We Will Rock You, Billy Elliot, Wicked and Jersey Boys – as well as some of Theatreland’s most established brands - like The Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, Chicago, Blood Brothers, Mamma Mia!, The Woman in Black and even the ultimate long-runner, Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap.
Since the nominations phase opened on the website last week - click here to nominate now! - more than 3,500 theatregoers have submitted their nomination forms, with Groupline’s Best West End Show proving one of the most popular categories. Once the 2010 Awards shortlists are announced and final voting opens on Friday 4 December, even more people will be able to take part.
For Best West End Show only, and for the first time in Whatsonstage.com Awards history, theatregoers will be able send their choice of winner via text message by texting “show” and the corresponding letter for their favourite production to 82727. Text codes for the “10 for 10” nominees will be published with the shortlists, and show producers are encouraged to promote details via their theatres. Of course, voting will also continue online as usual at awards.whatsonstage.com in this and all other fields.
Whatsonstage.com editorial director Terri Paddock commented: “In the inaugural Whatsonstage.com Awards ten years ago, we were surprised and delighted when 7,000 people logged on to vote. By last year, that number had increased five times, to a record 35,000 voters. With the introduction of Groupline’s Best West End Show and text voting, we hope to smash that voter turnout record for our tenth birthday. At Whatsonstage.com, we fervently believe that theatre is the most exciting and vibrant of all art forms, and we want as many people as possible to share in our enthusiasm and in our celebration of the best of the West End, both over the past year and the past decade.”
Who, what, where, when...
Throughout November, theatregoers can log on to nominate their favourite performances and productions for Awards consideration across all 26 categories, including Groupline’s Best West End Show.
The full Awards shortlists will be announced on Friday 4 December 2009 at a lunchtime ceremony at Cafe de Paris in the heart of the West End. The guest presenters helping us to announce the nominations are Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’s Broadway stars James Earl Jones, Phylicia Rashad and Sanaa Lathan and, on behalf of Masterclass, Jeremy Irons. There will also be live musical performances from Sister Act star Patina Miller, the stars of Christmas with The Rat Pack and Jest End, performing a sketch specially written for the tenth birthday of the Whatsonstage.com Awards.
After the Launch Party, the race is on to decide the eventual Whatsonstage.com Award winners, with voting opening on 4 December and continuing until the end of January. Results are announced and awards presented in front of a live audience of theatregoer voters at our Winners’ Concert on Sunday 14 February 2010 at the West End’s Prince of Wales Theatre.
Both Awards events are held in aid of this year’s adopted charity, Theatre Royal Haymarket Masterclass, which gives young people the chance to learn from and be inspired by leading artists (See News, 29 Sep 2009). Set up by the Theatre Royal Haymarket in 1998, the hugely successful Masterclass programme has now welcomed over 40,000 people aged 17-30. Events are given free of charge and occur at least one Friday a month throughout the year, focusing on all aspects of theatre from acting and directing to writing and producing.
For more information on the charity and our corporate sponsors in relation to the Awards, please visit our awards microsite later this week. For the tenth birthday, we’re also making a limited number of sponsorship packages available to individuals. For information on theatregoer supporters’ packages, click here.
WITH THANKS TO OUR SPONSORS: