Over 500 guests descended on Café de Paris in the heart of the West End on Friday (7 December 2007) for the star-studded launch of the eighth annual Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers’ Choice Awards, the only major theatre awards voted for by the paying public (See News, 7 Dec 2007). This year’s event was held in aid of our adopted charity for the 2008 Awards campaign, Mousetrap Theatre Projects (See Also Today’s WOS TV).

For the full list of 2008 nominations
& to vote, click here.

In the awards shortlists announced at the event, Hairspray led the way with ten nominations and its cast – including nominees Michael Ball (who was one of guest presenters at the launch), Leanne Jones (this year’s only two-time nominee, in the running for Best Actress in a Musical and London Newcomer of the Year), Ben James-Ellis and Tracie Bennett – were out in force to celebrate.

Other 2007 productions well represented at Friday’s event included: Joseph & the Amazing Techicolor Dreamcoat, Grease, The Lord of the Rings, Fiddler on the Roof, Boeing-Boeing, Rent, The Country Wife, War Horse, Macbeth, King Lear, Rhinoceros, The Arsonists, Glengarry Glen Ross, Dealer’s Choice, Desperately Seeking Susan, The History Boys, The Drowsy Chaperone, Little Shop of Horrors, Landscape with Weapon, Elling, All About My Mother, Bad Girls, The Pain and the Itch, The Glass Menagerie, The Entertainer, Swimming with Sharks and Parade as well as television’s Any Dream Will Do and Grease Is the Word.

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Presenters, performers & other stars

In announcing the awards nominations, Whatsonstage.com editorial director Terri Paddock, magazine editor Roger Foss and chief critic Michael Coveney were joined by: Elaine Paige OBE, the "first lady of British musical theatre", nominated for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical for her return to the West End stage earlier this year to take the title role in The Drowsy Chaperone; Michael Ball, nominated for Best Actor in a Musical for his current cross-dressing turn as Edna Turnblad in Hairspray; Roger Lloyd Pack, now transferring to the West End in the twice-nominated Menier Chocolate Factory revival of Dealer's Choice; John Gordon Sinclair, who opens this week in a new all-star revival of Alan Ayckbourn's comedy Absurd Person Singular; and, on behalf of this year's adopted charity Mousetrap Theatre Projects, Janie Dee, nominated for Best Actress in a Play for Shadowlands opposite fellow nominee Charles Dance.

As part of the nominations presentation, a short concert celebrating musical contributions to the 2007 West End year was mounted with performances by: Theatreland’s first “supergroup” Teatro; Fiddler on the Roof’s Best Actor in a Musical nominee Henry Goodman; Robyn North and Leila Benn Harris, Best Takeover in a Role nominees for The Phantom of the Opera at its 21st birthday; and Danny Bayne and Best Actress in a Musical nominee Susan McFadden, who won ITV’s Grease Is the Word to play Danny and Sandy in Grease, along with Jayde Westaby, who plays Rizzo in the show and who unveiled a specially written version of the musical’s “There Are Worse Things I Could Do”, lampooning many of the other shows and performers from the past year.

Amongst the many nominees and other partygoers who attended on Friday were: Adrian Hansell, Alec Newman, Alexandra Silber, Amanda Boxer, Andrea Riseborough, Andy Nyman, Anna Francolini, Anna Maxwell Martin, Aoife Mulholland, Arthur Darvill, Belinda Lang, Ben James-Ellis, Ben Turner, Beverley Klein, Caroline O’Connor, Charlotte Randle, Chris Grierson, Clint Dyer, Clive Carter, Colin Stinton, Connie Fisher, Damian Humbley, Danny Sapani, David Bedella, David Lan, Dean Elliott, Debbie Kurup, Dianne Pilkington, Ed Stoppard, Elena Roger, Elinor Collett, Elisabeth Dermot Walsh, Emma Cunniffe, Felix Barrett, Ferdy Roberts, Finn Caldwell, Fiona Glascott, Frances Ruffelle, Gareth Valentine, George Stiles, Graham Bickley, Graham Turner, Hannah Chissick, Hannah Waddingham, Helena Blackman, Hildegard Bechtler, Indhu Rubasingham, Jack Shepherd, Jackie Clune, James Loyd, Jamie Doyle, Javone Prince, Jay Simpson, Jean Marsh, Jennifer Ellison, Jimmy Akingbola, Joanna Christie, Joe Penhall, John Rogan, John Simm, Jonathan Wrather, Jonathan Harvey, Joshua Dallas, Judith Scott, Julian Bleach, Julie Legrand, Kaisa Hammarlund, Kate Fleetwood, Kath Gotts, Katie Kerr, Keir Charles, Kelly Price, Kenneth Cranham, Kerry Ellis, Kirsty Besterman, Koba Holdbrook-Smith, Lara Pulver, Laura Wade, Laura Michelle Kelly, Leanne Jones, Leon Lopez, Lewis Bradley, Lindsay Posner, Lisa Dillon, Lisa Goldman, Lloyd Owen, Lolita Chakrabarti, Lorraine Burroughs, Lorraine Bruce, Lucy Briers, Luke Evans, Lynda Baron, Lynda Bellingham, Madeleine Lloyd Webber, Madhav Sharma, Maggie Norris, Malcolm Sinclair, Mark Gatiss, Mark Rosenblatt, Mark Field, Matt Cross, Matthew Marsh, Matt Smith, Maxine Doyle, Michael Grandage, Michael Lesslie, Michael Jibson, Michael Therriault, Michael Mears, Michael Praed, Michelle Antrobus, Mike Packer, Monica Dolan, Natalie Best, Natalie Grady, Natasha Broomfield, Neil Stuke, Nicholas Day, Nick Stafford, Nicole Faraday, Nigel Lindsay, Oliver Dimsdale, Pam Ferris, Paul Baker, Peter Davison, Peter Eyre, Peter Sullivan, Philip Bulcock, Philip Voss, Polly Stenham, Preeya Kalidas, Ralf Little, Ramin Karimloo, Rob Howell, Robert Bathurst, Roger Michell, Roy Williams, Rupert Goold, Sally Dexter, Sally Tatum, Samuel Adamson, Samuel Barnett, Samuel West, Saskia Reeves, Shaun Escoffery, Simon Coates, Simon Burke, Siobhan Dillon, Stephen Wight, Summer Strallen, Susie Blake, Sylvester McCoy, Tim Rogers, Tim Fountain, Tomm Coles, Tony Bell, Tracie Bennett, Tracy-Ann Oberman, Trystan Gravelle and Vincent Pirillo, as well as myriad producers and other leading figures from the world of theatre.

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; primary theatre and event ticketing providers, See Tickets and Ticketmaster; and St James’-based restaurant institution Franco’s. For more information on all of our sponsors, please visit our awards microsite.

For the full list of 2008 nominations
& to vote, click here.