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WOS Awards: Full Winners' Acceptance Speeches

Here's what the people behind the performances and productions you voted for had to say about being your “theatregoers' choice” for the very best that theatre had to offer in 2009. Remarks are presented in the order that awards were announced at the Whatsonstage.com Awards Concert, celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Awards and held in aid of this year’s adopted charity Masterclass at the West End’s Prince of Wales Theatre last night (Sunday 14 February 2010).

Best Director
Trevor Nunn – A Little Night Music at the Menier Chocolate Factory & Inherit the Wind at the Old Vic

“If I were receiving this at the Brits, I would be saying I’m made up, and if I was at BAFTA, I would be sobbing helplessly. But I really am very very happy about this for a number of reasons and I want to tell you about some of them. First of all, obviously, I am bowled over that this is the fourth time that Whatsonstage.com have done this for me, which is great. It’s because it is for two productions and they were both amongst the happiest experiences I have had in my entire directing career. They both had wonderful casts. The first – A Little Night Music – was my very first experience working at David Babani’s Menier Chocolate Factory. It is a very particular, very singular experience, I do assure you, because it operates on a shoestring budget, no money at all. The actors all have to dress in one big collective dressing room, so there is no hierarchy at all. And it is wonderful because every bit of the focus is on the work and therefore the atmosphere is wonderful right across the building. I recommend it to all my colleagues. I am very happy to be going back there to do another Chocolate Factory show in a few months’ time under the Babani banner.

“And the second experience was at Kevin Spacey’s Old Vic where I returned after a bit of an absence. Again, the atmosphere in the building is absolutely terrific under Kevin’s directorship. I mean, we were doing a play about Darwin’s Origin of Species on trial, 150 years after its publication. Doesn’t sound like a great deal of fun, does it? But it was a blast. We had the most wonderful time doing it. And Kevin was joined by David Troughton as the other lawyer – they went head to head and made extraordinary theatre fireworks. So both were tremendous experiences.

“No thank-you speech from me would be complete if I did not pay tribute to my major critic and major mentor – Imogen Stubbs – who is with me tonight. And finally, I do just want to say, I am thrilled that this is the Whatsonstage.com award, voted for, not by critics or committees or cliques or clacks but by ticket-buying members of the general public. It is a thrilling sense of approval, and therefore, I hope that Whatsonstage.com goes from strength to strength over the coming years. Thank you very much indeed.” - Trevor Nunn

Best Supporting Actor in a Play
Patrick Stewart – Hamlet, RSC at the Novello Theatre

“Well, thank you. In this production of Greg Doran’s RSC Hamlet, there were so many supporting performances that ought to be standing here – Oliver Ford Davies, Penny Downie, Mini (Mariah) Gale and Edward Bennett who played Hamlet, as well as Laertes he played Hamlet for a month. I was here two years ago, and when I looked at the title of this award, the Whatsonstage.com award, the ‘theatregoers’ choice’, I hope that it might be for something other than acting ... I am terrifically honoured to have this. Can I tell a quick anecdote about Sir Trevor? I have been campaigning to play Claudius in Hamlet since I played the Player King in the great David Warner/Peter Hall Hamlet and I saw Brewster Mason play both those roles. And I campaigned with Trevor for his production at the Old Vic, and Trevor welcomed my campaign but told me I was too old. Well Trevor…” (Editor: Stewart flips two fingers) - Patrick Stewart

SHAKESPEARE 4 KIDZ Best Shakespearean Production
Hamlet - RSC at the Novello Theatre

“I am accepting this award on behalf of Greg Doran, the director, and on behalf of the Royal Shakespeare Company. It was an outstanding piece of work and thrilling for me to be in it, old though I was.” - Patrick Stewart

THE BOOKING OFFICE Best Regional Production
Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall - at Bristol Old Vic & on tour

“Thank you very much for voting, it is great pleasure, thank you. First of all we would like to thank Norma Farnes, Spike Milligan’s manager, for allowing this project to go ahead. Also we would like to thank Tim Carroll, our fantastic director, and his co-writer Ben Power for constructing such a wonderful play from the four books of Spike’s. Our fantastic production team and stage management who have to get us in and out of every venue as we are on tour. And thank you to Greg Ripley-Duggan, our producer and the wonderful 35 venues that have taken a gamble on the show and have been so welcoming every week. A list of them can be found at www.spikeswar.com. And also a big big thank you to Spike Milligan, who sadly cannot be with us tonight because he has suffered from a nasty case of his own mortality, so we have a special thank you for him and for anyone else who can hear it.” (Editor: an a capella performance followed) - Sholto Morgan

Calendar Girls - at the Noel Coward

“I won’t take my clothes off! This is brilliant, really, thank you very much. Thank god I came down from Manchester. I would just like to say thank you to David Pugh and Dafydd Rogers for giving me the chance to play Chris in Calendar Girls, and to Tim for writing such a wonderful play, and to Hamish McColl for directing it beautifully, and to all the lovely actresses who have been doing it for the last 18 months and the new cast who are in Manchester now and starting a national tour. It is a joy to do because it is a beautiful play. Tut also I would like to play tribute to John Baker, who died from leukaemia in 1998 and to those wonderful calendar girls who have been so inspiring to all of us. Thank you very much and to the voters.” - Lynda Bellingham

“Isn’t this just the best awards ceremony ever? I cannot believe it. I have come here tonight and watched clips from all my favourite shows, I have won this and now I am now hugely optimistic for the raffle. Can I just say also, that we did not rig the votes. Although I tried. We have two computers in our house and I went to my eldest son and said we are up for the Whatsonstage.com award if you are at all interested, are you going to vote? He said, oh I don’t know; let’s have a look at what else is on the list. So he did, and we got that one extra vote. I am very proud that we are here at all and that the show has done what it has done. I am very proud to be on a shortlist with all those other plays. I am very proud to be the other play with Jerusalem in it in the West End this year. And I am very proud to be in a show that my ten-year-old daughter has come to the award ceremony of, which is so rife with innuendo.” - Tim Firth

The MOBIUS INDUSTRIES Best Solo Performance
Derren Brown – Derren Brown: Enigmaat the Adelphi

“Thank you very, very much indeed. This is very exciting, particularly as it’s for my stage show which is my favourite thing that I do. Obviously, I knew that I was going to win, but I wasn’t aware that I’d pipped Rob Brydon so closely at the last minute – I just found out that I won by ten votes. So really this should go to both me and Rob, but it doesn’t; it goes to me as it turns out. So thank you enormously, and thank you particularly to the forces of Twitter, who I suspect are responsible for the votes.” - Derren Brown (via video acceptance)

Best Supporting Actress in a Musical
Jodie Prenger - Oliver! at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane

“I know everyone takes the mick out of me for saying ‘I’m dead chuffed’, but I really am. It always has been my ultimate dream to be on the West End stage and I got my dream come true. It was not just thanks to what I did, it was thanks to many people: the production team of the BBC, our Cameron, our Andy; the whole cast of Oliver!, the Gavin Barker family that have just taken me in. It’s just been the most amazing thing. And my mum and my dad and my brother and my dogs, can’t leave them out. Most of all, thank you to everybody who voted for me – I just love you all.” - Jodie Prenger

Oliver! at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane

“This is fantastic. I’m sure the creative team of Oliver! will not begrudge me saying that it’s really very much down to the vision and remorseless exhausting energy of one man, Cameron Mackintosh, who supported us all fantastically. I just want to say thank you particularly to all the children who have been in the show. There are so many of them and they have all been so wonderful. Even more than them, I want to thank the parents, the mums and dads. They have done a fantastic job all year and have made Oliver! the success it has been, so thanks a lot.” - Rupert Goold

The MILK TWO SUGARS Best Takeover in a Role
John Barrowman – La Cage aux Folles at the Playhouse

“The reason I love this is because it's voted by you guys, the public. I'd rather be recognised by you than by any kind of hierarchy because I think you're more important because you bought the tickets. So to have this really means a lot to me because you know how much I loved playing Zaza, I had a great time. But I must tell you that my Zaza was only as good as you guys made it, and also because of the company that I had behind me. So I accept this on behalf of the entire cast and company of La Cage aux Folles, particularly the Cagelles, who worked their butts off. Thank you very much.” - John Barrowman (via video acceptance)

The LES MISERABLES 25th ANNIVERSARY AWARD for Best Ensemble Performance
On the Waterfront at the Theatre Royal Haymarket

“I am so very proud to accept this award on behalf of the On the Waterfront company. I have got a couple of the guys with me – Alex Giannini who played Big Mac and Matt Cullum, who won’t mind me saying he was Steven (Berkoff)’s right arm for that project. I am speaking for the whole company when I say this was the job of a lifetime and experience of a lifetime. I mean, to play in this iconic piece that has become part of our culture; to meet Budd Schulberg, the author who came over and saw us and supported us and told us stories about what it was like to shoot the movie on the docks of New York 60 years ago now, how he had to persuade Marlon (Brando) to do the cab scene, that it was a good idea – all that made it just the most extraordinary experience. But we would not be here without Steven Berkoff and his extraordinary direction, vision and spirit and generosity to us. So thank you, thank you very much, it means a lot to us, thank you.” - Simon Merrells (who starred as Terry Malloy)

Best Supporting Actor in a Musical
Oliver Thornton - Priscilla Queen of the Desert at the Palace

“Thank you. It’s so nice to be standing on stage in clothes and not a pink thong. Although that is lovely too, trousers are so much more comfortable, believe me. I just would like to start by – gosh, these things are always so much more emotional than you think they are going to be, I hate it. Okay. I would like to start by thanking all my friends and family because, I am sure as many of you know, when you play a role like this in a big musical, it kind of dominates your life. So this is my public apology to all my friends for my constant vocal rest and having the social life of a slug. In fact, I think slugs have probably had more fun than me, but it is completely worth it because this role has been totally amazing and wonderful. And I would like to thank my wonderful agents, Caroline and Claire and Wendy. I would like to thank everyone at Really Useful and Back Row and all the producers, cast, crew, Tony and Jason who are just amazing to work with. But, mainly, of course, the fans because they have been voting for me and they have been supporting me non-stop and they have made it a really special year so it really belongs to you. Thank you.” - Oliver Thornton

Best Set Designer
Brian Thomson - Priscilla Queen of the Desert at the Palace

“Brian is thrilled to be nominated let alone awarded this thing. It is, by the way, his second show in the West End. His first being Superstar almost 40 years ago so it’s been a long time between drinks here in London. I think he would, I know he would, like to thank most particularly his creative collaborators. And at the front of that list, the driver of the Priscilla bus, this modest little chamber piece that we brought from Australia, the incomparable Simon Phillips. On behalf of Brian, thank you.” - Garry McQuinn, producer (on behalf of Brian Thomson)

Best Choreographer
Ross Coleman - Priscilla Queen of the Desert at the Palace

“Ross can’t be here either. He is having a glass of wine or two, in fact I think he is having a couple of bottles of red wine, with Spike Milligan. Ross was one of our greatest choreographers in Australia, and I know who would be absolutely chuffed to be sharing the list of nominees with the greatest choreographers in the world. We are a bit gutted that he cannot be here tonight. We are thrilled that he was able to make his West End debut with Priscilla and we are very disappointed he will not be able to join us for our debut on Broadway, which previews a year from today. I think Ross would like me to thank, most particularly, his long-term partner, Ollie. I know he would like me to thank the cast of Priscilla, led by Oliver, Jason, Clive and the incomparable Tony Sheldon for a performance of a lifetime. I know too that he would like to thank Simon Phillips, his very long-term creative collaborator and friend. Thank you.” - Garry McQuinn, producer (on behalf of the late Ross Coleman)

Best Off-West End Production
The Pirates of Penzance - at the Union

“I am so glad Oliver cried so I won’t be the first one. Thank you to everyone that voted for us. We were at a tiny little venue in Southwark and we had an all-male cast of 20 beautiful boys in a venue that only holds 50. And we did it in July so it got quite sweaty at times, which might have been the reason that so many people came and bought tickets. I want to thank Lizzi (Gee, choreographer) because she went with my weird idea of doing an all-male Pirates of Penzance and she turned it into the most beautiful show. I want to thank my creative team for making my boys look like beautiful girls. And I want to thank the dads that were at home looking after our babies when we were out working. And I want to thank my mum. And last but not least, I want to thank the cast. So I hope you enjoy their performance. Thank you. Oh, and we are going from our little baby theatre to Wilton’s for an eight-week run in a 350-seat venue, which is beautiful, so please come and see us.” - Sasha Regan, director

CAPITAL BREAKS Best Actor in a Play
Jude Law – Hamlet, Donmar West End at Wyndham’s

“This is a real thrill. Thank you so much, particularly to Whatsonstage.com, and of course, to everyone who voted for me. It’s a very important award for me because it’s voted for by the theatregoers. And thank you for the opportunity to look back over an extraordinary three months here in London. Playing the part was significant enough. To be under the wings of the Donmar at the Wyndham’s Theatre was extraordinary at the end of such a successful season and to be in a great company led by an extraordinary director really made this one of the most extraordinary experiences of my life. And to be celebrated for it by the audience that came really means an awful lot. So thank you very, very much. And I look forward to seeing you all again soon, on the stage.” - Jude Law (via video acceptance)

Best Actress in a Play
Rachel Weisz – A Streetcar Named Desire at the Donmar Warehouse

“What an honour to be voted Best Actress by the theatre audiences. Thank you so much. I wish I could be there to accept but have just started filming in Canada. Playing Blanche was the most thrilling experience, and I doubt I will ever find a better role. If anyone comes across a better role written for a woman, please let me know! Thank you to the whole cast, the Donmar Warehouse, and our wonderful director Rob Ashford. Thank you so much, this award really means a lot to me.” - Rachel Weisz (read by co-star Ruth Wilson)

EMG Best Play Revival
A Streetcar Named Desire - at the Donmar Warehouse

“Thank you so much to Whatsonstage.com from all of us at the Donmar. Streetcar was a wonderful experience. Everyone involved brought such commitment and dedication to the whole production. To get an opportunity to explore this great play was one thing, but to be honoured with an award from the public is an amazing bonus for the entire company and everyone who works at the theatre. I am sorry not to be there in person to pick it up and party with you all, but I wanted to say, have a great night and thank you very much.” - Rob Ashford (read by actor Barnaby Kay, who played Mitch)

DEWYNTERS London Newcomer of the Year
Diana Vickers - The Rise & Fall of Little Voice at the Vaudeville

“I am so nervous. I have never won anything before. I just ... oh, my whole mind has gone blank. I just want to thank everyone so much involved for giving me this opportunity - Jim Cartwright and Nica Burns. I want to thank the cast who were like my family for four months and they looked after me and all the production. I learnt so much and it was such a challenge and I got really tough skin – this theatre world is not easy. I just had such an amazing experience, and hopefully I’ll be able to do it all again one day and be in another play. I’m going to stop rambling. Thank you all so much and the public for everything and have a really nice night. Thank you very much.” - Diana Vickers

WHITE LIGHT Best Lighting Designer
Natasha Katz – Sister Act at the London Palladium

“I'm sorry I can't be there with everyone to celebrate and to thank you for this award. I cherish this because it came directly from our audience. What an honour! Everyone has been so welcoming to me in the theatre community in London. I had an incredible time working here and on the show and I thank you all!” - Natasha Katz (read by co-host Christopher Biggins)

BABY GRAND Best Actress in a Musical
Patina Miller - Sister Act at the London Palladium

“I am nervous as well, I have never won an award either. Oh god, my mind just went blank as well. I just want to thank everyone who voted for me. This has been an amazing amazing experience for me. To move from New York, being sort of an unknown actress just three years out of school, to come and step into the role of this amazing character in a place I had never been ... I am not from London but to just come here and be in front of everyone and to do what I just love to do, has been the most amazing amazing experience for me. So I thank everyone who voted for me. I would like to thank Joop van den Ende for giving me this amazing opportunity to get my voice out there and be Delores and to make people laugh and smile. It has been an amazing opportunity for me. I want to thank the creative team and my cast and crew. And now I’m rambling. I am just so happy, I am really happy and I want to thank you all so much.” - Patina Miller

Best Supporting Actress in a Play
Miriam Margolyes – Endgame at the Duchess Theatre

“It’s funny, you know. I am nervous and I am very very thrilled to have won this award because I was up against my best friend, Carol Macready, who is going out on tour with Enjoy, which starts on 1 March and you will see another wonderful performance. I was good too. I was really only good because of the director, Simon McBurney, and Mark Rylance, and the wonderful Tom Hickey, who is an Irish actor who was down in the dustbins with me. You know Beckett, it is a play about dustbins. Well, not about dustbins, although I thought it was. It was just a wonderful experience, and I never expected to get this award. Thank you so very much for giving it to me. Thank you.” - Miriam Margolyes

SEE TICKETS Best Actor in a Musical
Rowan Atkinson – Oliver! at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane

“This is absolutely great. I’m genuinely very pleased and very touched. When I embarked on this journey to play the part of Fagin in Oliver!, I did so with a degree of apprehension. I hadn’t been on the West End stage in 20 years and I had never sung in a musical – well, I’d never sung really. So it was quite a scary time, and what made it all possible was the warmth and accommodation and tolerance of the company of the production of Oliver!, all those actors, the adults and the children, and our directors and choreographers and designers, and, in particular, our director Rupert Goold for being so helpful to someone who was stepping with such trepidation into the project ... Also, of course, the warmth and accommodation and tolerance of the audience who kindly came to see us. As this is more than anything an audience award – and the audience in the end, I think, is the most important element in any theatrical event – it really means something. So I’d like to thank you all sitting there very much indeed, but I’d also like to thank mostly all those who voted for me, and all those real people who spent real money to come and see the show. Thank you.” - Rowan Atkinson (via video acceptance)

GROUPLINE Best West End Show
Wicked - at the Apollo Victoria

“When we opened in 2006, I think it is fair to say we divided the critics. From five stars in the Sunday Telegraph to no stars at all and a headline that said ‘A Wicked waste of time’ in the Mail on Sunday, which obviously I am still hanging on to. But from that moment on the public were absolutely behind the show. Now, 2.5 million people later, we are enjoying a very successful run, and that is always because of our audiences and their support has been incredible. It has been a great privilege to work on the show. It was my producing debut, thank you David Stone. I just wanted to say to everyone that has helped us, including our two original Whatsonstage.com winners Idina Menzel and Miriam Margolyes – just everyone who has been a part of this, thank you so much. Thank you for all the work that everyone does every day. And thanks for supporting us. Thanks guys.” - Michael McCabe, executive producer

AKA Theatre Event of the Year
The pairing of Ian McKellen & Patrick Stewart in Waiting for Godot at the Theatre Royal Haymarket

Patrick Stewart: I didn’t thank enough, for Claudius and Hamlet, the audience who voted. I have never been to this event before. I feel like it’s like a horse of the year show ... Look, I have a quick word of advice for all actors and actresses out there, who are and who want to be. When you hear the company stage manager say standby for the first run-through in the rehearsal room, and your bowels are ready to open, and you haven’t got a thought in your head and your throat is dry; when you are standing in the wings for the first preview in Great Malvern and you have never got through the show yet; when you think the first thing you are going to do on the Haymarket stage is throw up; when you turn around at one moment and see a man standing on the stage who has never been there before, and a moment later is gone; when you are overwhelmed with emotions that you don’t know if you can say the next line; when you want to laugh hysterically because something so funny has just happened, I hope you can all turn and look in the face of an actor like Ian McKellen.

Ian McKellen: Well, well. He was just saying to me two minutes ago, down there, ‘what are we going to say when we get up there?’

Patrick Stewart: I had it all planned.

Ian McKellen: Well, I haven’t really. Except well, oh dear ... Waiting for Godot, I thought it was a very difficult play and it is, to read, of course. And I have seen some pretty lousy productions. I asked Richard Wilson, who played Vladimir twice, ‘how on earth do you get through it?’ He said, ‘Ian, just go for the subtext.’ And it turns out he was absolutely right. It turns out that Samuel Beckett wrote a play which is as real as any bit of naturalistic drama by Anton Chekhov, and that is the way we got about it. But look, I enjoyed it so much, that even when Patrick and Simon Callow had to go on to other things, I could not let go of Gogo. And I just want to introduce you to the current cast of Waiting for Godot, which is, Matthew Kelly and Ronald Pickup and the indispensable Roger Rees. And here is something that we did plan we would say. It may not quite be the occasion, but it cannot be said often enough. What connects these geezers that I was just introducing to you, is that we have all been dedicated to the theatre all our lives and we have loved it and we all remember the day when we were allowed to call ourselves a full member of Actors’ Equity. These days there are a lot of kids joining the industry who think it is not particularly necessary and what job could the union possibly do for you. Well, only last year, a new living wage was established at a minimum level for everybody in the West End, and that could not have been achieved if people had not been members of Equity. So I urge you, join us, and who knows, one day you may be holding one of these.

Jerusalem by Jez Butterworth – at the Royal Court Downstairs

“Thanks very much for this. I had to take two separate trains to get here, it took me five hours. I just got here. I’ve got to say it was slightly easier writing the play than getting here tonight! Twenty years ago I wrote my first play at college and the first words in it were spoken by Mel (Giedroyc) and I haven’t seen her since, so… No, really, it’s lovely to get this. With each award this show has got, I feel the same thing, which is that it belongs to the actors in the play, who put themselves on the line every single night. This will go in the Green Room at the Apollo because it belongs to them. Thank you very much and cheers.” - Jez Butterworth

SUPERBREAK Best New Musical
Priscilla Queen of the Desert by Allan Scott & Stephan Elliott – at the Palace

“I really want to thank all the people who have voted for us. This is a great show. It is a lot of fun. We are very very proud of it. More importantly, this sort of recognises the audiences out there who have come to see the show and given us such a great response, so thank you very much for that. Fantastic. What a great way to end last year and to start this year as well. Thank you so much.” - Jason Donovan (on behalf of the Priscilla company)

For the full list of winners & further coverage – including photos & video - visit our awards microsite.