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Tennant, Branagh, Hartnett & 'JERSEY BOYS' Win Big at the WHATSONSTAGE Awards

The winners in the ninth annual Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers' Choice Awards, the only major UK theatre prize-giving decided by the public, were announced today, Sunday February 15th, at a gala, star-studded evening at the Prince of Wales Theatre.

This full report is courtesy of Kevin Wilson at CLOUT COMMUNICATIONS LTD.

Over the past two months, a record-breaking 35,000 people have voted online at www.whatsonstage.com, the UK's premier theatre website, for their favorite actors and productions of 2008.

Doctor Who star David Tennant's return to the stage in Hamlet was named Theatre Event of the Year and Kenneth Branagh was Best Actor for Ivanov (the launch production in the year-long Donmar West End season at Wyndham's theatre).

The Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers' Choice Awards Concert was hosted for the second successive year by Gavin & Stacey star James Corden and Two Pints of Lager's Sheridan Smith and the entertainment between the award-giving included an exclusive preview of the upcoming world premiere of Moonshadow, a new musical by Yusuf Islam, the British singer-songwriter formerly known as Cat Stevens, with Siobhan McCarthy, the original Donna Sheridan in Mamma Mia!, singing the Cat Stevens' ballad "Wild World".

There were also performances by Award nominees Elena Roger (Piaf) and Leila Benn Harris (Imagine This); The Phantom of the Opera star Ramin Karimloo; X Factor finalist turned Blood Brothers leading lady Niki Evans; I'd Do Anything competitors Samantha Barks and Sarah Lark; and American diva Kim Criswell; as well as SurAnne Jones, Julie Atherton, Glenn Carter, Ray Shell, Jimmy Johnston and Jackie Marks.

The majority of Award winners - including The Four Seasons' Bob Gaudio, leading American playwright and filmmaker Neil LaBute, Donmar artistic director Michael Grandage and The Kinks' frontman Ray Davies - collected their prizes in front of a sell-out audience.

Comedian Eddie Izzard was named Best Solo Performance for his stand-up show Stripped, which launches a UK arena tour this autumn following its sell-out West End season. He said: "

And Hollywood heartthrob Josh Hartnett, who made his professional theatrical debut in the stage adaptation of Rain Man, was named London Newcomer of the Year. Speaking from Los Angeles, Josh Hartnett said: "Being on-stage in the West End production of Rain Man was a thrilling new experience. Everyone worked incredibly hard, and made me feel welcome. I am thankful to the audiences for coming out and supporting us ... And a special thanks to Nica Burns who put her money where her mouth is and cast an up-and-coming New York theatre actor with not a single professional credit to his name. I hope to be back soon!" 

The Awards were dominated by the Donmar Warehouse, with five wins across three productions (Ivanov, Othello and The Chalk Garden), and Jersey Boys, the blockbuster Broadway musical import telling the story of pop legends The Four Seasons, which secured all four of its nominations, including Best New Musical and Best Actor in a Musical for on-stage "Frankie Valli" Ryan Molloy. Original Four Season and composer of The Jersey Boys, Bob Gaudio flew in specially from the US to collect the Best New Musical award on behalf of the show, which follows four blue-collar boys - Gaudio, Frankie Valli and their friends Tommy DeVito and Nick Massi - on their journey from the wrong side of the tracks in New Jersey to international success as an American pop music sensation. He said: "Frankie Valli and I are absolutely thrilled that Jersey Boys has managed to receive so many Whatsonstage.com Awards this year. It's especially gratifying when an award is voted for by the people. We are all very proud of Jersey Boys at the Prince Edward, and this recognition suggests that the UK audiences just might love the production as much as we do." Gaudio's on-stage doppelganger Stephen Ashfield collected the trophy for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical alongside Ryan Molloy for Best Actor in a Musical. As part of tonight's concert, the two performed a string of Four Seasons hits along with the full Jersey Boys company. The musical's fourth prize is Best Set Designer for Klara Zieglerova.

Donmar Warehouse continued its domination of this year's theatre prize-givings. After securing big wins at both the Evening Standard and Critics' Circle awards, and 13 Laurence Olivier nominations, the Donmar has converted its myriad Theatregoers' Choice Award nominations into five big victories: Best Actor for Kenneth Branagh for Ivanov, Best Director for artistic director Michael Grandage for Ivanov, The Chalk Garden and Othello (the latter two at the Donmar's 250-seat Covent Garden home base), Best Play Revival for Ivanov, Best Shakespearean Production for Othello (which starred Chiwetel Ejiofor, Ewan McGregor and Kelly Reilly), and Best Supporting Actor for Tom Hiddleston for Ivanov and Othello. Michael Grandage said: "I am delighted that so many members of the public have voted for the Donmar's productions. It is clearly a very positive endorsement of what we are trying to do, and it gives us a real boost as we enter a new year of work." 

The Donmar's closest rival is the Royal Shakespeare Company, resurgent in London thanks to its annuAl West End residency and last year's takeover of the Roundhouse with the epic eight-play cycle of The Histories, whose leading lady KaTy Stephens is named Best Actress. The other two RSC triumphs come care of Doctor Who star David Tennant, whose return to the stage in Hamlet was declared Theatre Event of the Year; Hamlet, directed by RSC chief associate Gregory Doran, has also won Best Regional Production for its Straford-upon-Avon run. (The show's London dates did not qualify for this year's Awards).

Two other musicals score double Theatregoers' Choice wins. The 50th anniversary production of West Side Story, now touring the UK following its sell-out run at Sadler's Wells in London, was Best Musical Revival and its Portuguese "Maria" Sofia Escobar was named Best Actress in a Musical.

La Cage aux Folles, still running at the West End's Playhouse theatre where Graham Norton recently joined the cast, scooped Best Supporting Actress in a Musical for Tracie Bennett (winning the prize for a second year in a row, following last year for Hairspray) and Best Choreographer for Lynne Page.

A full list of the nominations and award winners is found below.

The SPOTLIGHT Best Actress in a Play

Deanna Dunagan - August: Osage County at the NT Lyttelton
KaTy Stephens - The Histories, RSC at the Roundhouse
Lesley Sharp - Harper Regan at the NT Cottesloe
Lindsay Duncan - That Face at the Duke of York's
Margaret Tyzack - The Chalk Garden at the Donmar Warehouse
Penelope Wilton - The Chalk Garden at the Donmar Warehouse


The SPOTLIGHT Best Actor in a Play
Adam Godley - Rain Man at the Apollo
Chiwetel Ejiofor - Othello at the Donmar Warehouse
Eddie Redmayne - Now or Later at The Royal Court Theatre Downstairs
Ian McDiarmid - Six Characters in Search of an Author at the Gielgud
Kenneth Branagh - Ivanov, Donmar West End at Wyndham's
Kevin Spacey & Jeff Goldblum - Speed the Plow at the Old Vic


Best Supporting Actress in a Play

Barbara Jefford - Pygmalion at the Old Vic
Denise Gough - Six Characters in Search of an Author at the Gielgud
Michelle Terry - The Man Who Had All the Luck at the Donmar Warehouse
Phoebe Nicholls - The Vortex at the Apollo & Waste at the Almeida
Sophie Thompson - The Female of the Species at the Vaudeville
Susan Engel - Her Naked Skin at the NT Olivier


Best Supporting Actor in a Play

Douglas Henshall - The Last Days of Judas Iscariot at the Almeida
Kevin R McNally - Ivanov, Donmar West End at Wyndham's
Malcolm Sinclair - Rosmersholm at the Almeida
Paul Ready - Major Barbara at the NT Olivier
Pip Carter - Gethsemane at the NT Cottesloe
Tom Hiddleston - Othello at the Donmar Warehouse & Ivanov, Donmar West End at Wyndham's


The VIAGOGO Best Actress in a Musical
Connie Fisher - They're Playing Our Song at the Menier Chocolate Factory
Elena Roger - Piaf at the Donmar Warehouse & Vaudeville
Leila Benn Harris - Imagine This at the New London
Lisa O'Hare - Gigi at the Open Air
Ruthie Henshall - Marguerite at the Theatre Royal Haymarket
Sofia Escobar - West Side Story at Sadler's Wells


The SEE TICKETS Best Actor in a Musical
Darius Danesh - Gone With the Wind at the New London
Douglas Hodge - La Cage aux Folles at the Menier Chocolate Factory & Playhouse
Julian Ovenden - Marguerite at the Theatre Royal Haymarket
Matt Rawle - Zorro at the Garrick
Rolan Bell - The Harder They Come at the Barbican & Playhouse
Ryan Molloy - Jersey Boys at the Prince Edward


Best Supporting Actress in a Musical

Lesli Margherita - Zorro at the Garrick
Linda Thorson - Gigi at the Open Air
Lorraine Bruce - Piaf at the Donmar Warehouse & Vaudeville
NaTasha Yvette Williams - Gone With the Wind at the New London
Sophia Ragavelas - Never Forget at the Savoy
Tracie Bennett - La Cage aux Folles at The Playhouse


Best Supporting Actor in a Musical

Alexander Hanson - Marguerite at the Theatre Royal Haymarket
Jason Pennycooke - La Cage aux Folles at the Menier Chocolate Factory & Playhouse
Luke Evans - Piaf at the Donmar Warehouse & Vaudeville
Michael Matus - Imagine This at the New London
Nick Cavaliere - Zorro at the Garrick
Stephen Ashfield - Jersey Boys at the Prince Edward

Best Solo Performance
David Bradley - The Quiz at Trafalgar Studios
Derren Brown - Derren Brown Mindreader: An Evening of Wonders at the Garrick
Eddie Izzard - Stripped at the Lyric
Maria Friedman - Maria Friedman: Re-Arranged at the Menier Chocolate Factory
Nadine Marshall - Random at The Royal Court Theatre Downstairs
Vanessa Redgrave - The Year of Magical Thinking at the NT Lyttelton

The AMBASSADOR TICKETS Best Ensemble Performance

August: Osage County - at the NT Lyttelton
Black Watch - National Theatre of Scotland at the Barbican
Brief Encounter - at The Cinema, Haymarket
Into the Hoods - at the Novello
The Histories - RSC at the Roundhouse
The Norman Conquests - at the Old Vic

The MILK TWO SUGARS Best Takeover in a Role


Daniel Boys - Avenue Q at the Noël Coward
Denis Lawson - La Cage aux Folles at The Playhouse
Kelly Brook - Fat Pig at the Comedy
Rachel Tucker - We Will Rock You at the Dominion
Summer Strallen - The Sound of Music at the London Palladium
Suzanne Shaw - Chicago at the Cambridge

The NICK HERN BOOKS Best New Play

August: Osage County by Tracy Letts - at the NT Lyttelton
Black Watch by Gregory Burke - National Theatre of Scotland at the Barbican
Now or Later by Christopher Shinn - at the Royal Court Downstairs
That Face by Polly Stenham - at the Duke of York's
The Pitmen Painters by Lee Hall - at the NT Cottesloe
Under the Blue Sky by David Eldridge - at the Duke of York's


Best New Comedy


Fat Pig by Neil LaBute - at Trafalgar Studios & the Comedy
God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza - at the Gielgud
Lifecoach by Nick Reed - at Trafalgar Studios
The Female of the Species by Joanna Murray-Smith - at the Vaudeville
The Walworth Farce by Enda Walsh - at the NT Cottesloe
Well by Lisa Kron - at Trafalgar Studios

The WALDORF HILTON Best New Musical

Eurobeat by Craig Christie & Andrew Patterson - at the Novello
Imagine This by Shuki Levy, David Goldsmith & Glenn Berenbeim - at the New London
Jersey Boys by Bob Gaudio, Bob Crewe, Rick Elice & Marshall Brickman - at the Prince Edward
Marguerite by Michel Legrand, Herbert Kretzmer, Alain Boublil, Claude-Michel Schönberg & Jonathan Kent - at the Theatre Royal Haymarket
Never Forget by Guy Jones, Daniel Brocklehurst & Ed Curtis - at the Savoy
Zorro by The Gipsy Kings, John Cameron, Stephen Clark & Helen Edmundson - at the Garrick


The EMG Best Play Revival

Ivanov - Donmar West End at Wyndham's
Six Characters in Search of an Author - at the Gielgud
Speed the Plow - at the Old Vic
The Chalk Garden - at the Donmar Warehouse
The Norman Conquests - at the Old Vic
Waste - at the Almeida


The TICKETMASTER Best Musical Revival
Candide - at the London Coliseum
Gigi - at the Open Air
La Cage aux Folles - at the Menier Chocolate Factory & Playhouse
Piaf - at the Donmar Warehouse & Vaudeville
They're Playing Our Song - at the Menier Chocolate Factory
West Side Story - at Sadler's Wells


Best Shakespearean Production

A Midsummer Night's Dream - at Shakespeare's Globe
Much Ado About Nothing - at the NT Olivier
Othello - at the Donmar Warehouse
The Histories - RSC at the Roundhouse
The Merry Wives of Windsor - at Shakespeare's Globe
Twelfth Night - at the Tricycle


The SEATCHOICE Best Director

Emma Rice - Brief Encounter at The Cinema, Haymarket
Michael Grandage - Othello & The Chalk Garden at the Donmar Warehouse & Ivanov, Donmar West End at Wyndham's
Matthew Warchus - The Norman Conquests at the Old Vic
Michael Boyd - The Histories, RSC at the Roundhouse
Rupert Goold - The Last Days of Judas Iscariot at the Almeida, Six Characters in Search of an Author at the Gielgud & No Man's Land at the Duke of York's
Samuel West - Dealer's Choice at Trafalgar Studios & Waste at the Almeida

Best Set Designer


Eugene Lee - Imagine This at the New London
Klara Zieglerova - Jersey Boys at the Prince Edward
Miriam Buether - In the Red & Brown Water at the Young Vic
Neil Murray - Brief Encounter at The Cinema, Haymarket
Rob Howell - The Norman Conquests at the Old Vic
Tom Piper - The Histories, RSC at the Roundhouse

The WHITE LIGHT Best Lighting Designer
Chahine Yavroyan - Relocated at the Royal Court Upstairs & Wig Out! at the Royal Court Downstairs
Jean Kalman - The Year of Magical Thinking at the NT Lyttelton & In the Red & Brown Water at the Young Vic
Malcolm Rippeth - Brief Encounter at The Cinema, Haymarket & Six Characters in Search of an Author at the Gielgud
Mark Henderson - Under the Blue Sky at the Duke of York's, Marguerite & The Sea at the Theatre Royal Haymarket
Neil Austin - Piaf at the Donmar Warehouse & Vaudeville, No Man's Land at the Duke of York's & Oedipus at the NT Olivier
Paule Constable - Othello & The Chalk Garden at the Donmar Warehouse & Ivanov, Donmar West End at Wyndham's

Best Choreographer

Akram Khan - in-i at the NT Lyttelton
Karen Bruce - Never Forget at the Savoy
Kate Prince + ZooNation - Into the Hoods at the Novello
Lynne Page - La Cage aux Folles at the Menier Chocolate Factory & Playhouse
Matthew Bourne - Dorian Gray at Sadler's Wells
Rafael Amargo - Zorro at the Garrick


The DEWYNTERS London Newcomer of the Year

Ella Smith - Fat Pig at Trafalgar Studios & the Comedy
George Sampson - Into the Hoods at the Novello
Joseph Mawle - The Last Days of Judas Iscariot at the Almeida
Josh Hartnett - Rain Man at the Apollo
Ray Davies - Come Dancing at Theatre Royal Stratford East
Tarell Alvin McCraney - In the Red & Brown Water & The Brothers Size at the Young Vic & Wig Out! at the Royal Court Downstairs


The MOBIUS Best Off-West End Production

An Enemy of the People - at the Arcola
Come Dancing - at Theatre Royal Stratford East
Piranha Heights - at Soho Theatre
Plague Over England - at the Finborough
The Vaclav Havel season - at the Orange Tree
The White Devil - at the Menier Chocolate Factory

The TARGET LIVE Best Regional Production

Calendar Girls - at Chichester Festival Theatre & on tour
Hamlet - RSC at the Courtyard Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon
On the Waterfront - at Nottingham Playhouse & the Edinburgh Fringe
Once Upon a Time at the Adelphi - at The Liverpool Playhouse
The Glass Menagerie - at the Royal Exchange, Manchester
The Music Man - at Chichester Festival Theatre


The AKA Theatre Event of the Year

David Tennant returning to the stage in Hamlet for the RSC
The launch of the Donmar West End season at Wyndham's
La Clique's London debut at the Hippodrome
The in-the-round transformation of the Old Vic for The Norman Conquests
The RSC's complete staging of The Histories at the Roundhouse
Widespread protests over arts funding cutbacks

Honourable mentions:
Andrew Lloyd Webber's 60th birthday celebration in Hyde Park
Robert Lepage's nine-hour Lipsynch at the Barbican
Daniel Radcliffe & James Corden's onstage kiss at the 2008 Theatregoers' Choice Awards Concert

 

 


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