New musical Hairspray has dominated the nominations for the 2008 What’s On Stage Theatregoers’ Choice Awards, receiving 10 nominations. The Lord Of The Rings is also strongly represented with seven nominations. The nominees across the many categories span an entire year of theatre, running from Little Shop Of Horrors, which opened at the Menier Chocolate Factory on 29 November 2006, to A Christmas Carol and The Magic Flute, which opened at the Young Vic last week.
In possibly the first of many award ceremony showdowns in the coming months, two Shakespearean masters go head to head in the Best Actor in a Play category. Patrick Stewart (Macbeth, The Tempest, Antony And Cleopatra) and Ian McKellen (King Lear) are up against Charles Dance, John Simm, Paterson Joseph and Robert Lindsay.
Stewart won the title in the recent Evening Standard Awards, decided before King Lear had opened in London.
Fellow Evening Standard Award winner Anne-Marie Duff is once again nominated in the Best Actress in a Play category. Also featured are Janie Dee, Kate Fleetwood, Kristin Scott Thomas, Maggie Smith and last year’s Laurence Olivier Award winner Tamsin Greig.
The Dewynters London Newcomer of the Year category includes a number of eminently recognisable names. Billie Piper, Daniel Radcliffe and Orlando Bloom, all better known for their work on the screen, receive nominations alongside Arthur Darvill, Colin Morgan and Leanne Jones.
Jones, who plays Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray, should be doubly excited as she has also been nominated in the Best Actress in a Musical category. In fact, each of the major performers in Hairspray – Michael Ball, Tracie Bennett, Ben James-Ellis and Mel Smith – have received nominations.
While reality television winners Lee Mead and Susan McFadden are nominated for awards themselves, the battle between Any Dream Will Do and Grease Is The Word could also win in the quirkiest of London theatre’s awards categories, the AKA Theatre Event Of The Year. Also in the running is Daniel Radcliffe’s publicity shots for Equus, the launch of the Theatre Royal Haymarket company, Nicholas Hytner’s ‘dead white male’ comments about critics, The Masque Of The Red Death and the re-opening of the Royal Festival Hall.
With six nominees in each of the 25 categories, many of London’s favourite performers, productions and creatives have been given a nod of recognition from the theatregoing public who vote for both the nominee and then the award winners themselves. In a twist on normal awards procedure, the Theatregoers’ Choice Awards announced its nominations at a glitzy ceremony, held today at Café De Paris, when voting for the winners was opened simultaneously on website What’s On Stage, where a full list of the nominations can be found. Voting continues until mid-February, when the winners will be announced.
The announcement of the 2008 Theatregoers’ Choice Awards will be preceded by the Critics’ Circle Awards, held in late January, and followed by the Laurence Olivier Awards, London theatre’s most prestigious awards ceremony, which will be held in March.