We’ve already broken records in our TENTH ANNUAL Whatsonstage.com Awards, the “theatregoers’ choice”! Over 5,000 people have so far taken part in the initial nominations phase to set the 2010 Awards shortlists. That’s more than in any previous year – and there’s still 13 days left to go to nominate.

Until 30 November, theatregoers can log on to nominate their favourite performances and productions for Awards consideration across all 26 categories. Amongst these are standards including Best Actor, Best Actress, Best New Play and Best New Musical as well as less conventional fields such as Best Ensemble Performance, Best Off-West End Production and Theatre Event of the Year.

This year, for the first time, there’s also a new category for Best West End Show, which applies to all current West End productions, including long-running blockbusters (See {News: E8831257880544}, 12 Nov 2009).

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 several 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.

In a season that’s seen big musicals like Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Oliver! and Sister Act and star turns from the likes of Jude Law, Anna Friel, Kevin Spacey, Rachel Weisz, Jane Horrocks, James McAvoy, Judi Dench, Derek Jacobi, Rosamund Pike, Matthew Kelly, Jonathan Pryce, Mark Rylance, Samuel West, Imelda Staunton, Dominic West, Alison Steadman, Pete Postlethwaite, Fiona Shaw, Rowan Atkinson, Clare Higgins, Jodie Prenger, Omid Djalili, Jason Donovan, Patina Miller, Simon Russell Beale, Rebecca Hall, Ethan Hawke, David Harewood, Lesley Sharp, Nigel Harman, Richard Dreyfuss, Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart, it’s sure to be yet another hotly contested competition. All professional productions – from Fringe to the West End – opened in London between 1 December 2008 and 30 November 2009 are eligible for nomination. Click here to remind yourself of some of the eligible productions that opened during the Awards year.


Our charity & sponsors

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.

Though Masterclass events are designed for those at the start of their careers, theatregoers and others, of whatever age, are also welcome. The Masterclass Benefactors scheme (priced £55 per annum) has been set up for this purpose. It includes: access to over 12 events a year, an annual friends’ party and special ticket offers for Theatre Royal Haymarket productions. Details can be found at www.masterclass.org.uk.

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 Awards’ tenth birthday, we’re also making a limited number of sponsorship packages available to individuals. These include passes to the launch party, winners’ concert and after-show party! For information on theatregoers’ packages, click here.