The Awards from the UK’s leading theatre website are the only UK event for the theatre industry voted for purely by the ticket-buying public. More than 11,000 theatregoers have cast nominations for their favourite performances and productions across 26 different award categories.
A major year for musicals
In the battle of the big musicals, screen-to-stager Ghost the Musical goes head-to-head with the RSC’s musical adaptation of Matilda, which opened in the West End after a sell-out season at Stratford-upon-Avon, with both grabbing nine nominations each.
In addition to competing for the Best New Musical, the shows’ stars are running neck and neck in all the musical performance categories: Best Actor in a Musical (Ghost’s Richard Fleeshman vs Matilda’s Bertie Carvel), Best Actress in a Musical (Caissie Levy vs the four young girls who alternate as Matilda), Best Supporting Actor in a Musical (Andrew Langtree vs Paul Kaye) and Best Supporting Actress in a Musical (Sharon D Clarke vs Lauren Ward).
The two blockbusters share key members of their creative teams with Matthew Warchus (Best Director) and Rob Howell (Best Designer) duly nominated for their work on both productions. Matilda’s composer and lyricist, comedian Tim Minchin, is also singled out for London Newcomer of the Year for his musical debut.
Several of the year’s other big musicals are also nominated, including Crazy for You, Betty Blue Eyes (with six apiece), Rock of Ages, Shrek the Musical (with five apiece) and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s production of The Wizard of Oz (with four).
Also in the running for Best Actress in a Musical are: Amanda Holden (Shrek), Clare Foster (Crazy for You), Emma Williams (Love Story) and Sarah Lancashire (Betty Blue Eyes). Additional Best Actor in a Musical nominees are: Nigel Lindsay (Shrek), Oliver Tompsett (Rock of Ages), Reece Shearsmith (Betty Blue Eyes) and Sean Palmer (Crazy for You).
Les Miserables, which won three awards in the 2011 Awards for its 25th anniversary celebrations, receives three nominations for the 2012 Awards: co-stars Alfie Boe and Matt Lucas (who reprised their O2 birthday gala performances in a limited West End season this year) compete for Best Takeover in a Role, and the Cameron Mackintosh production battles other long-runners Jersey Boys, The Phantom of the Opera, War Horse, We Will Rock You and Wicked for Best West End Show bragging rights.
The play’s the thing
Waving the flag for big-hitter plays are the Donmar Warehouse’s revival of Anna Christie and the National’s One Man, Two Guvnors, with five nods each. One Man’s James Corden (a two-time host of the Whatsonstage.com Awards in 2008 and 2009) and Anna Christie’s Jude Law are both nominated for Best Actor in a Play, one of this year’s toughest fields, where the other nominees are Benedict Cumberbatch (Frankenstein), Kevin Spacey (Richard III), David Tennant (Much Ado About Nothing, Wyndham’s) and James Earl Jones (Driving Miss Daisy).
One Man, Two Guvnors is also tipped for Best New Comedy and earns nominations elsewhere for Jemima Rooper (Best Supporting Actress), Oliver Chris (Best Supporting Actor) and Nicholas Hytner (Best Director). And Anna Christie is shortlisted for Best Play Revival and Best Supporting Actor (David Hayman), while its leading lady Ruth Wilson faces stiff competition from Eve Best (Much Ado About Nothing, Globe), Kristin Scott Thomas (Betrayal), Samantha Spiro (Chicken Soup with Barley), Vanessa Redgrave (Driving Miss Daisy) and Tamsin Greig (Jumpy), who won this past year’s Whatsonstage.com Best Supporting Actress prize for The Little Dog Laughed.
Richard Bean (One Man Two Guvnors and The Heretic) is one of two playwrights nominated in two different categories. His Royal Court play, The Heretic, is up for Best New Play, competing with Grief, the latest stage play by Mike Leigh, whose Hampstead production of his 1976 play Ecstasy is shortlisted for Best Play Revival.
Sheridan Smith, who last year won the Whatsonstage.com and Olivier Best Actress in a Musical gongs for Legally Blonde, is nominated for Best Supporting Actress in a Play for Flare Path. Hers is one of four nods for Flare Path, including Best Play Revival and Best Director for Trevor Nunn, who has overseen this year’s full in-house programme at the Theatre Royal Haymarket and is jointly nominated for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.
Big names, big events
This summer’s West End production of Much Ado About Nothing, reuniting Doctor Who’s David Tennant and Catherine Tate, caused such a stir that it has been nominated for Theatre Event of the Year, as well as Best Director (for Donmar Warehouse artistic director-in-waiting Josie Rourke) and Best Actor for Tennant. The 1980s-set Much Ado battles it out with Jeremy Herrin’s period production of the same play (and opened just a week earlier) at the Globe for Best Shakespearean Production.
The always-eclectic Theatre Event of the Year category also pays tribute to the RSC’s 50th anniversary season and reopening of its Royal Shakespeare Theatre home after a four-year, £112 million makeover. Other events in the running are: the Bush Theatre’s 24-hour cycle of 66 Books, Michael Sheen and Bill Mitchell’s The Passion for the National Theatre of Wales, Headlong’s 9/11 milestone Decade and The Phantom of the Opera’s 25th anniversary spectacular at the Royal Albert Hall.
The London Newcomer of the Year shortlist fields wide-ranging nominees from across plays and musicals. In addition to Tim Minchin for Matilda, there is Danielle Hope (The Wizard of Oz), X Factor winner Shayne Ward (Rock of Ages), musician-turned-actor Johnny Flynn (The Heretic), former EastEnder-cum-Strictly Come Dancing victor Kara Tointon (Pygmalion) and Kyle Soller (The Glass Menagerie, Government Inspector and The Faith Machine).
Other big names on this year’s shortlists include: Danny Boyle (nominated for Best Director for his return to the stage with Frankenstein), Catherine Tate (Best Supporting Actress for Season’s Greetings), Mark Gatiss (Best Supporting Actor for Season’s Greetings), Doon Mackichan (Best Supporting Actress for Jumpy), Niamh Cusack (Best Supporting Actress for Playboy of the Western World), Tara Fitzgerald (Best Takeover in a Role, Broken Glass) and outgoing Donmar boss Michael Grandage (Best Director for King Lear and Luise Miller).
Scores on the doors, next steps
Venue-wise, for another year, the National Theatre leads the shortlists with 22 nominations (including the five for One Man, Two Guvnors, four for Frankenstein and two for London Road), followed by the Royal Court with ten, the Donmar Warehouse and the RSC with nine, the Open Air Theatre with seven, the Theatre Royal Haymarket with five, Hampstead Theatre with four and the Old Vic and Shakespeare's Globe with three.
Voting to crown the winners opens on Friday 2 December and will close at the end of January 2012. The winners will be revealed at the Awards Concert on 19 February 2012 at the West End’s Prince of Wales Theatre. Last year more than 46,000 theatregoers voted for their favourites. The Whatsonstage.com Awards are held in association with our 2012 presentation rights sponsor Time Out London in aid of this year’s adopted charity, Stage One, which is dedicated to developing the theatre producers of the future.
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THE FULL LIST OF 2011/12 NOMINATIONS
Best Actress in a Play
Best Actor in a Play
Best Supporting Actress in a Play
Best Supporting Actor in a Play
The BABY GRAND Best Actress in a Musical
The THEATRE TOKENS Best Actor in a Musical
Best Supporting Actress in a Musical
Best Supporting Actor in a Musical
The LES MISÈRABLES Best Ensemble Performance
The JO HUTCHISON INTERNATIONAL Best Solo Performance
The SEATLIVE Best Takeover in a Role
The NICK HERN BOOKS Best New Play
The EMG Best New Comedy
The SEE TICKETS Best New Musical
The SAMUEL FRENCH Best Play Revival
The RADISSON EDWARDIAN Best Musical Revival
Best Shakespearean Production
The OAKLEY CAPITAL Best Director
Best Set Designer
The WHITE LIGHT Best Lighting Designer
The DEWYNTERS London Newcomer of the Year
The TIME OUT Best Off-West End Production
The LUCKINGS Best Regional Production
The EQUITY Best West End Show
The AKA Theatre Event of the Year
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