Last remaining tickets for the 22nd Annual WhatsOnStage Awards are on sale now, so we thought we'd break down some big numbers ahead of this year's ceremony!
& Juliet sets new nominations record in 2020
If any production is going to knock these juggernauts off their top spots, & Juliet would be the bookies' favourite. With a record-breaking 13 nominations, the only eligible categories that the musical is not shortlisted in are Best Direction and Best Musical Direction. The show even has a double entry in Best Supporting Actress in a Musical, with Cassidy Janson and Melanie La Barrie both up for the award.
Hamilton stole the show in 2019
Any newly nominated production that is able to match Hamilton's achievements in 2019 would be having an incredibly successful evening. The musical cleaned up this year, winning five gongs in total – Best Actor in a Musical (Jamael Westman), Best Supporting Actor in a Musical (Jason Pennycooke), Best Choreography, Best Lighting Design and Best Costume Design.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and Miss Saigon remain the record-breakers
Even Hamilton's success last year is put in the shade however by Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and Miss Saigon's achievements at previous WhatsOnStage Awards. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child won eight awards out of 11 nominations in the 2017 ceremony while Miss Saigon went one better in 2015, scooping a scarcely believable nine prizes. Throughout the whole history of the awards, Wicked has won an incredible 10 times including three for Best West End Show (2010, 2011 and 2017) and three for Best Takeover in a Role (Rachel Tucker in 2011 and Kerry Ellis in 2008 and 2015).
The first WhatsOnStage Awards were held in 2001
Winners at the first ever ceremony included Julie Walters for her starring roll in Arthur Miller's All My Sons, a production that went on to win four awards that evening. It will be interesting to see whether the West End transfer of Miller's Death of a Salesman from the Young Vic to the Piccadilly Theatre can be similarly successful – the production's director Marianne Elliott won a WhatsOnStage Award in 2018 for Best Direction of Company.
5,000 people voted in the first WhatsOnStage Awards
Nominations and eventual winners are selected entirely by the public, a guideline that has been followed ever since our first awards ceremony in 2001. A "popular" vote alternative to the Olivier nominations, the WhatsOnStage Awards have gone from strength to strength ever since.
To date, 441 awards have been given out
Working out at an average of about 23 awards per ceremony, in the next three years we should have reached the significant 500–award landmark – there are 25 awards categories for this year. The WhatsOnStage Awards' enduring popularity with the public stems in part from star performances during the Awards concert, an opportunity for musical actors to perform the year's most popular hits. In 2019, after picking up an award for Best Actress in a Musical, Carrie Hope Fletcher treated the audience to a rendition of "I Say No" from Heathers the Musical.
Fletcher is only one of many distinguished actors that have had numerous successes at the WhatsOnStage Awards. Luminaries such as Dame Judi Dench, David Tennant, Patrick Stewart, Kenneth Branagh and Sheridan Smith have all won multiple times. Stewart and Tennant lead the pack with five nominations and four wins respectively.
The awards process takes five months
It is no secret that the entire voting process, from nominations opening to final winners being announced, is a lengthy one. The considerable time span allows for the changing vogues and opinions of theatregoers throughout the year, whilst also providing everyone with plenty of time to vote. Ultimately, it is all about coming up with a list of just and worthy winners!