The 2012 Whatsonstage.com Awards were launched on Friday (2 December 2011) at a packed industry event held at London’s Cafe de Paris, in the heart of the West End.

More than 600 actors, directors, designers, playwrights, producers and other theatre professionals gathered to hear the announcement of the nominations and celebrate another year of great theatre. There were performances from Rock of Ages Shayne Ward (singing “Dead or Alive”) and Ghost the Musical’s Richard Fleeshman (singing “Unchained Melody”) – who were respectively nominated for London Newcomer of the Year and Best Actor in a Musical - and the “Fab Five” from Backbeat - Nick Blood, Andrew Knott, Daniel Healy, Will Payne and Oliver Bennett – who were given a nod for Best Ensemble Performance.

Whatonstage.com’s managing and editorial director Terri Paddock, deputy editor Theo Bosanquet and Tim Arthur, editor-in-chief of presentation rights sponsor Time Out London, were assisted in reading the shortlists by three big names from this past year’s Whatsonstage.com Awards: Meera Syal, who won Best Solo Performance for Shirley Valentine and returns to the stage in 2012 for the RSC in next year’s World Shakespeare Festival; Nigel Lindsay, who scooped Best Actor in a Play for Broken Glass and is now greening up at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in screen-to-stage Broadway blockbuster Shrek The Musical; and Jemima Rooper, who was nominated for Best Supporting Actress in a Play for All My Sons and has just returned to the West End opposite James Corden in One Man, Two Guvnors.

Other special guests included actor (and another former nominee) Malcolm Sinclair, president of Equity, a sponsor of the Awards - who made a special surprise Clarence Derwent Award presentation to Sheridan Smith for her performance in Flare Path - West End producer Joseph Smith, the new chief executive of this year’s adopted charity Stage One, and Matilda star and 2012 nominee Bertie Carvel, who draw the charity raffle.

For the full list of 2012 nominations
& to vote, click here.