Over 500 guests descended on Cafe de Paris in the heart of the West End on Friday (5 December 2009) for the star-studded launch of the tenth annual Whatsonstage.com Awards, the “theatregoers’ choice” and as such the only major theatre awards voted for by the paying public (See News, 4 Dec 2009). This year’s event was held in aid of our adopted charity for the 2010 Awards campaign, Theatre Royal Haymarket Masterclass (See Also Today’s WOS TV).

For the full list of 2010 nominations
& to vote, click here.

In the awards shortlists announced at the event, three musicals – new blockbusters Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and Sister Act as well as the Menier Chocolate Factory’s revival of Sondheim’s A Little Night Music, now previewing on Broadway – with seven nominations apiece. While the two biggest play nominees, Jez Butterworth’s Jerusalem and Lucy Prebble’s Enron, propelled the Royal Court to a dozen nominations, matched only in the venue tally by the National Theatre.

Amongst the nominees and other artists from shows opened in 2009 who attended the launch party were: Lenny Henry, Alison Steadman, Marc Warren, Jason Donovan, Tony Sheldon, Clive Carter, Oliver Thornton, Hannah Waddingham, David Harewood, Lorraine Burroughs, Alistair McGowan, Julia Sutton, Craig Revel Horwood, Samantha Spiro, Sinead Cusack, Timothy Sheader, Timothy West, Prunella Scales, Henry Goodman, Roger Allam, Eddie Redmayne, Sadie Frost, Roger Lloyd Pack, Charlotte Wakefield, Iwan Rheon, Adrian Lukis, Carol Macready, Arturo Brachetti, Bola Agbaje, Con O’Neill, Frances Ruffelle, Hannah Waddingham, Janie Dee, Jenny Jules, Jonathan Munby, Kerry Michael, Lisa Dillon, Malcolm Sinclair, Nigel Planer, Roy Williams, Sally Ann Triplett, Steven Berkoff, Simon Merrells, Caroline Sheen, Michael Jibson, Ciara Janson, Claire Price, Clare Higgins, Daniel Crossley, David Dawson, Debbie Chazen, Lynda Bellingham, Janie Dee, Hannah Waterman, Gabriel Vick, Gareth Valentine, Daisy Beaumont, Rupert Evans, Shaun Escoffery, George Asprey, Ryan Molloy, Glenn Carter, Philip Bulcock, Alexia Khadime, Oliver Thompsett, Geoffrey Hutchings, Kevin Anderson, Harriet Thorpe, Sam Kelly, Isla Blair, Julian Glover, Jeremy Herrin, Joseph Millson, Tom Sturridge, Simon Stephens, Jessica Raine, Sophie Wu, Nicholas Banks, Steven Webb, Peter de Jersey, Jonjo O’Neill, Karl Collins, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, Kacey Ainsworth, Kaisa Hammarlund, Guy Henry, Kelly Price, Gabriel Vick, Leanne Rowe, Mark Hadfield, Mark Curry, Lindsay Posner, Terry Johnson, Lucy Bailey, William Dudley, Mark Dexter, Sonya Cassidy, Shona White, Nathan Stewart Jarrett, Niamh Perry, Siobhan Dillon, Penelope Beaumont, Peter Flannery, Shaun Evans, Penny Downie, Peter Sullivan, Joe Caffrey, Christopher Luscombe, Neil Stuke, Amanda Symonds, Ciara Janson and Guy Henry.



Entertainment & charity

Guest presenters on hand to help announce the 2010 Awards shortlists were the Broadway stars of the just-opened revival of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, James Earl Jones, Phylicia Rashad and Sanaa Lathan; and, speaking on behalf of Masterclass, was Jeremy Irons. There were also live musical performances from Sister Act star – and this year’s only two-time nominee, for Best Actress in a Musical and London Newcomer of the Year - Patina Miller (singing “Fabulous, Baby” from the show) as well as the cast of Christmas with The Rat Pack and Jest End, performing a sketch medley for the tenth birthday of the Whatsonstage.com Awards. Ryan Molloy, Glenn Carter and Philip Bulcock from Jersey Boys, big winners at the 2009 Awards, took to the stage to cut the tenth birthday cake.

Friday’s Launch Party was 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 Benefactor scheme (priced £55 per annum – reduced to £45 for members of the Whatsonstage.com Theatre Club) 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.

Voting continues until 31 January. Winners are announced and trophies presented at the 2010 Whatsonstage.com Awards Concert, held in front of an audience of theatregoer voters at the West End’s Prince of Wales Theatre on Sunday 14 February at 7pm. Tickets for the concert range from £20 to £42.50 and are on sale now! To book tickets for the Awards Concert, call 0844 482 5133 or book online at www.whatsonstage.com/concert.