Following its success last month at the Evening Standard Awards, the Donmar Warehouse continues to lead the way with a phenomenal 18 nominations in this year’s Theatregoers’ Choice Awards shortlists, including six nods for Ivanov, five apiece for The Chalk Garden and Othello, four for Piaf and one for the overall launch of the high-profile, year-long Donmar West End season at Wyndham’s Theatre.
Only two other productions match Ivanov’s half-dozen nominations haul: the Royal Shakespeare Company’s epic eight-play Histories cycle at the Roundhouse and Menier Chocolate Factory revival of Broadway musical comedy La Cage aux Folles, now transferred to the West End’s Playhouse Theatre.
In one of the most hotly contested categories this year, two Donmar leading men, Ivanov’s Kenneth Branagh and Othello’s Chiwetel Ejiofor, face stiff competition for Best Actor in a Play from Adam Godley (Rain Man), Eddie Redmayne (Now or Later), Ian McDiarmid (Six Characters in Search of an Author) and, nominated jointly, the Old Vic’s high-octane Speed the Plow “double act”, Kevin Spacey and Jeff Goldblum.
Meanwhile, the Donmar’s co-stars from The Chalk Garden, Penelope Wilton and Margaret Tyzack, who shared the Evening Standard actress prize, are nominated separately for the Whatsonstage.com Award for Best Actress in a Play, competing with two pill-popping performances, from Lindsay Duncan (That Face) and this year’s Tony Award winner, American Deanna Dunagan (August: Osage County), as well as Katy Stephens (The Histories) and Lesley Sharp (Harper Regan).
In the musical categories, this year’s big Broadway import, Four Seasons hit Jersey Boys, receives four strong nominations, including Best New Musical. And, though it recently fell foul of critics, the so-called “Holocaust musical” Imagine This proves it has audience support with four nominations of its own, while its prematurely closed predecessor at the New London theatre earns two, one of them for former reality TV star Darius Danesh. The Theatre Royal Haymarket’s premiere of Michel Legrand’s Marguerite also attracts four nominations, while Zorro swings in with five.
Danesh and Jersey Boys’ Frankie Valli, Ryan Molloy, are in the running for Best Actor in a Musical alongside Marguerite’s Julian Ovenden, Zorro’s Matt Rawle, La Cage aux Folles’ Douglas Hodge and The Harder They Come’s Rolan Bell. In the Best Actress in a Musical category, Connie Fisher, a former Newcomer of the Year for The Sound of Music, is nominated for They’re Playing Our Song and competes against Elena Roger (Piaf), Leila Benn Harris (Imagine This), Lisa O'Hare (Gigi), Ruthie Henshall (Marguerite) and Sofia Escobar (the 50th anniversary production of West Side Story).
Even before his London transfer, David Tennant gets a shortlists look-in with two nominations. Hamlet, which opens at the West End’s Novello Theatre next week, is nominated for Best Regional Production following its Stratford-upon-Avon season, while the frenzy around the Doctor Who star’s return to the stage to take the title role in the RSC production is up for Theatre Event of the Year.
In that always quirky category, Tennant faces competition from the RSC’s Histories, the launch of Donmar West End, the in-the-round transformation of the Old Vic, adult cabaret La Clique’s London debut at the now-threatened Hippodrome and the widespread protests over Arts Council funding cutbacks which attracted headlines at the beginning of the year.
Other big names up for awards include: Hollywood’s Josh Hartnett, Derren Brown, Eddie Izzard, Vanessa Redgrave, Britain’s Got Talent’s George Sampson, Daniel Boys, Samuel West (a previous Best Actor winner, now nominated for Best Director), Barbara Jefford, Sophie Thompson, Douglas Henshall, Kevin J McNally, Tom Hiddleston, Linda Thorson, Tracie Bennett (the 2008 Best Supporting Actress in a Musical winner for Hairspray and nominated again, in the same category, for La Cage aux Folles), David Bradley, Maria Friedman, Neil LaBute, Yasmina Reza, Michael Grandage, Michael Boyd, Rupert Goold, Rob Howell (the 2008 Best Set Designer winner for The Lord of the Rings and nominated again, in the same category, for The Norman Conquests), Matthew Bourne, and former Kinks’ frontman Ray Davies (nominated for Newcomer of the Year for his musical writing and performing debut, Come Dancing).
The race is now on to decide the eventual winners in the 2009 Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers’ Choice Award, with voting continuing from today (Friday 5 December) until the end of January and results announced in the week commencing 9 February 2009, ahead of our Awards Concert, which will take place on Sunday 15 February 2009 at the West End’s Prince of Wales theatre. Check back on Monday for full photo and TV coverage from today’s star-studded launch party, held in aid of our adopted charity TheatreMAD at the Hippodrome!
THE FULL LIST OF 2008/9 NOMINATIONS
The SPOTLIGHT Best Actress in a Play
The SPOTLIGHT Best Actor in a Play
Best Supporting Actress in a Play
Best Supporting Actor in a Play
The VIAGOGO 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
The AMBASSADOR TICKETS Best Ensemble Performance
Best Takeover in a Role
The NICK HERN BOOKS Best New Play
Best New Comedy
The WALDORF HILTON Best New Musical
The EMG Best Play Revival
The TICKETMASTER Best Musical Revival
Best Shakespearean Production
The SEATCHOICE Best Director
Best Set Designer
The WHITE LIGHT Best Lighting Designer
The DEWYNTERS London Newcomer of the Year
The MOBIUS Best Off-West End Production
The TARGET LIVE Best Regional Production
The AKA Theatre Event of the Year
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