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WhatsOnStage Awards reach 30k nominations; Erivo, Casey, Harman and Urinetown join Launch Party

This year's Awards are set to become our biggest yet, with 30,000 nominations having already been submitted across 27 categories

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Cynthia Erivo in The Color Purple

The nominations phase of the 2014 WhatsOnStage Awards, the original and biggest theatregoers' choice prize-giving, has only been open for ten days, but we've already had 30,000 category submissions!

The annual Awards - the only major theatre prize to be decided across all categories by the theatregoing public - have firmly established their place in the theatrical calendar with over 60,000 people voting each year (a target we're aiming to smash in 2014...).

The shortlists will be announced on 6 December 2013 at the exclusive Awards Launch Party at the West End's Cafe de Paris. Acts so far confirmed to perform include Cynthia Erivo (The Color Purple, I Can't Sing!) and the cast of Urinetown, which premieres in the new year. Meanwhile, guest presenters helping announce the shortlists will include two former WhatsOnStage Award winners Natalie Casey, soon to star in In The Next Room - or the vibrator play, and Nigel Harman, fresh from his headline-hitting turn in Downton Abbey.

Casey won this past year's Best Supporting Actress in a Play gong for the Menier Chocolate Factory revival of Mike Leigh's Abigail's Party. Harman won Best Supporting Actor in a Musical in 2012 for his vertically challenged Lord Farquaad in Shrek. He will return to the West End musical stage, channeling Simon Cowell in I Can't Sing, the X Factor musical, alongside Cynthia Erivo.


Get involved, get invited

The Launch Party is an industry-only, by-invitation event. However, a limited number of members of the public can attend by becoming Individual Supporters. Private sponsorship packages - priced £550 VAT - include two invites to the Launch Party at Cafe de Paris as well as VIP tickets and post-show party passes to the Awards Ceremony and Concert at a major West End theatre next February. For more information on Individual Supporter Packages, click here.

Official Charity of the WhatsOnStage Awards

Both Awards events are held in aid of our adopted charity, The Big Issue Foundation, the charitable organisation which helps the The Big Issue magazine's homeless vendors take their next steps off the street. The annual four-month Awards campaign – including the two star-studded events which top and tail audience voting – are held in aid of The Big Issue Foundation.

For the price of a pair of theatre tickets, you could buy a year's worth of Big Issues or donate just £10 a month to the charity, to make a real difference in a homeless person's life. To find out more, visit the Official Charity page on the Awards website. Or, to make a monthly or one-off donation now, visit www.bigissue.org.uk .