Leading the way with a whopping ten nominations is the smash-hit Broadway musical import Hairspray, garnering nods for, amongst others, Michael Ball, Leanne Jones, Tracie Bennett, Ben James-Ellis, Mel Smith and director Jack O'Brien. The show is also in contention for the Superbreak Best New Musical Award. It faces fierce competition from the stage musical adaptation of JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, which fell foul of critical opinion but remains an audience favourite with seven nominations, including those for Laura Michelle Kelly, James Loye, director Matthew Warchus and director Rob Howell. Others competing for the Best New Musical title are Bad Girls, Parade, Take Flight and The Drowsy Chaperone.
The X-Men rivals Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen square up once again in one of the most hotly contested categories this year, Best Actor in a Play. Stewart, fresh from his win for Macbeth at last week’s Evening Standard Awards, faces McKellen for his critically acclaimed performance in another Shakespeare tragedy, King Lear, as well as John Simm (for Elling), Paterson Joseph (The Emperor Jones), Charles Dance (Shadowlands) and Robert Lindsay (The Entertainer).
Stewart’s fellow winner at the Evening Standard Awards, Anne-Marie Duff, is amongst the nominees for Best Actress in a Play for her role in Saint Joan. She faces stiff competition from Janie Dee (Shadowlands), Kate Fleetwood (Macbeth), Kristin Scott Thomas (The Seagull), Maggie Smith (The Lady from Dubuque) and this year’s Olivier Award winner Tamsin Greig (Much Ado About Nothing).
And will the people’s champion triumph once again? Lee Mead fought off the other contenders on television’s Any Dream Will Do to win the coveted title role in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. He’ll now have to battle it out with veteran West End leading men Michael Ball (Hairspray) and Henry Goodman (Fiddler on the Roof) as well as Bertie Carvel (Parade), James Loye (The Lord of the Rings) and Paul Keating (Little Shop of Horrors) for Best Actor in a Musical trophy.
All About My Mother, the stage adaptation of Pedro Almodovar’s Spanish film classic, leads the nominations for a straight play with five nods, including ones for Diana Rigg, Colin Morgan and Best New Play. This takes the total nominations for the Old Vic to eight, underscoring a renaissance for the theatre under Kevin Spacey’s directorship.
It is perhaps the Dewynters Award for London Newcomer of the Year which will attract the most attention. Young screen mega-stars Daniel Radcliffe (Equus), Orlando Bloom (In Celebration) and Billie Piper (Treats), who all made their professional stage debuts this year, are in the line-up along with recent drama school graduates Arthur Darvill (Terre Haute & Swimming with Sharks), Colin Morgan (Vernon God Little & All About My Mother) and Leanne Jones (Hairspray).
Jones, declared an overnight star after her opening last month in Hairspray, has also been nominated for Best Actress in a Musical, where she’s in competition with Denise Van Outen (Rent), Lara Pulver (Parade), Sheridan Smith (Little Shop of Horrors), Summer Strallen (The Drowsy Chaperone) and Susan McFadden (Grease).
Finally, in the always quirky AKA Theatre Event of the Year category, identifying key moments that encapsulate the 2007 theatregoing year, Daniel Radcliffe’s steamy publicity photos for Equus, National Theatre artistic director Nicholas Hytner’s “dead white males” comment about drama critics and the reality TV head-to-head between Any Dream Will Do and Grease Is the Word all figure.
The race is now on to decide the eventual winners in the 2008 Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers’ Choice Award, with voting continuing for two months from today (Friday 7 December) and results announced in mid-February 2008. Check back on Monday for full photo and TV coverage from today’s star-studded launch event!
Today’s nominations launch party featured performances by Theatreland’s first “supergroup” Teatro, Fiddler on the Roof’s Henry Goodman, Grease’s Susan McFadden, Danny Bayne and Jayde Westaby, The Phantom of the Opera’s Leila Benn Harris and Robyn North and guest presentations by Elaine Paige, Michael Ball, John Gordon Sinclair, Roger Lloyd Pack and Janie Dee.
Amongst the nominees and other stars in the 500-strong industry audience were: Angela Rippon, Anthony Andrews, Belinda Lang, Ben James-Ellis, Connie Fisher, Daniel Boys, David Bedella, Elena Roger, Helen Blackman, Jean Marsh, Jennifer Ellison, Joe Penhall, John Simm, Kate Fleetwood, Kerry Ellis, Leanne Jones, Lee Mead, Lia Williams, Lynda Baron, Lynda Bellingham, Mark Gatiss, Matthew Marsh, Michael Praed, Neil Stuke, Nicole Faraday, Nigel Lindsay, Pam Ferris, Patrick Kielty, Peter Eyre, Preeya Kalidas, Ralf Little, Robert Bathurst, Roger Michell, Roy Williams, Rupert Goold, Samuel West, Stephen Tompkinson, Summer Strallen, Susie Blake, Tracie Bennett, Tracy-Ann Oberman, Andrea Riseborough, Arthur Darvill, Bertie Carvel, Beverley Klein, Dianne Pilkington, Hildegard Bechtler, James Loye, Kerry Ellis, Lara Pulver, Laura Michelle Kelly, Lucy Briers, Michael Jibson, Michael Therriault, Mike Packer, Nick Stafford, Nicole Faraday, Nigel Lindsay, Peter Davison, Polly Stenham, Preeya Kalidas, Ralf Little, Ramin Karimloo, Rob Howell, Robert Bathurst, Samuel Adamson, Simon Bent, Steve Thompson, Aoife Mulholland, Amanda Drew, Amy Nuttall, Andy Nyman, Ben Turner, Graham Turner, Caroline O’Connor, Chris Grierson, Clint Dyer, Clive Carter, Danny Sapani, David Lan, Desmond Barrit, Ed Stoppard, Frances Ruffelle, Gareth Valentine, George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, Graham Bickley, Jackie Clune, Jack Shepherd, Mark Rosenblatt, Janet Brown, Jimmy Akingbola, Javone Prince, Joanna Christie, Jonathan Harvey, Laura Wade, Lewis Bradley, Lindsay Posner, Lisa Dillon, Liz Crowther, Lloyd Owen, Lorraine Bruce, Lorraine Burroughs, Madeleine Lloyd Webber, Madhav Sharma, Malcolm Sinclair, Samuel Barnett, Ross Boatman, Jay Simpson, Stephen Wight, Mariah Gale, Michael Grandage, Monica Dolan, Nicolas Kent, Paul Baker, Peter Straker, Sally Dexter, Saskia Reeves, Siobhan Dillon, Stephen Tompkinson and Tamara Harvey, 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.
THE FULL LIST OF 2007/8 NOMINATIONS
The FRANCO’S Best Actress in a Play
Best Actor in a Play
Best Supporting Actress in a Play
Best Supporting Actor in a Play
The FIRST MAGAZINE Best Actress in a Musical
The SEE TICKETS Best Actor in a Musical
Best Supporting Actress in a Musical
Best Supporting Actor in a Musical
Best Solo Performance
Best Ensemble Performance
Best Takeover in a Role
The NICK HERN BOOKS Best New Play
Best New Comedy
The SUPERBREAK Best New Musical
Best Play Revival
The TICKETMASTER Best Musical Revival
Best Shakespearean Production
Best Set Designer
The DEWYNTERS London Newcomer of the Year
Best Off-West End Production
Best Regional Production
The AKA Theatre Event of the Year