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The 24th WhatsOnStage Awards - Opinion Piece



Last week I was extremely lucky to attend the WhatsOnStage Awards at the London Palladium Theatre. It was a fantastic evening, especially for theatre nerds like me (and you, you're reading a theatre blog), my head was turning left and right seeing star after star. The WhatsOnStage Awards pride themselves as the premier theatre awards voted for by the public. I think this works both in their favour and gives the productions with the most hype, celebrity casting or overall money to be bigger winners. Those that are artistically the best are recognised but do not always win, I suppose this is what the Olivier's are for. However, I think it is very important to give the audiences a voice in awards, as really, who else is theatre for except the audience?


Hosted by Melanie La Barrie and Bonnie Langford, they played hilariously off each other, at times being professional award hosts, and often just having fun and a laugh on stage. I could watch a one woman show with the sheer number of facial expressions La Barrie pulled during the ceremony. We were treated to performances from Newsies, Flowers For Mrs Harris, Guys & Dolls, La Cage Aux Folles, Next To Normal, Operation Mincemeat and The Sound of Music. Each as brilliant as the last, I did not have the fortune to see Flowers for Mrs Harris when it was playing, so it was truly a treat to see. Speaking of treats, we saw the worlds first live performance of Burlesque The Musical from the writer and performer Jess Foley, i can guarantee this will be a big winner when it plays. Other performances by varying stars (and i mean stars, eg Ramin Karimloo, Louise Dearman and Rosalie Craig) had me clapping slightly too hard in my seat with excitement.



Coming to the winners, obviously Sunset Boulevard came out on top with 7 wins, with Guys and Dolls next at 3 nods. While yes, I believe this was the production of the year and thoroughly deserved all the wins it got, I often root for the underdog. So when Guys & Dolls won best revival i was filled with glee. A Little Life, also rightly won the most awards for a play, with Stranger Things coming close, both productions were truly wonderful. My winning highlights were Nicole Sherzinger thanking Whatsapp, instead of WhatsOnStage, for the awards (How Norma Desmond could that be?) and Operation Mincemeat winning Best New Musical, the ROAR from the audience at their win was electric.


Next year I would like to see two added categories, Best Hair and Makeup and Best Producer. They were missing and I feel that they would round out the stellar awards line up.


Ultimately I had a wonderful evening at The 24th WhatsOnStage Awards, I would thoroghly recommend it to any theatre lover. Who doesnt love an excuse to get dressed up? Just remember these awards are voted for by the public, if your favourite doesnt win, there is another way you can support them... GO SEE THE SHOW AGAIN! Theatre is a subjective artform, I am truly lucky to be able to critique the thing I love most.




Yes I went alone and looked dapper in my kilt....



The full list of the winners and nominees are;


Best Performer in a Musical

– Michael Ahomka-Lindsay, Disney’s Newsies

– Natasha Hodgson, Operation Mincemeat

– Ed Larkin, The Little Big Things

Caissie Levy, Next to Normal

Nicole Scherzinger, Sunset Boulevard

Marisha Wallace, Guys and Dolls


Best Supporting Performer in a Musical

– Aynrand Ferrer, Miss Saigon, Sheffield Crucible

– Jak Malone, Operation Mincemeat, Fortune Theatre

– Jason Manford, The Wizard of Oz, The London Palladium

– Cedric Neal, Guys and Dolls, Bridge Theatre

– Amy Trigg, The Little Big Things, @sohoplace

Jack Wolfe, Next to Normal, Donmar Warehouse


Best Performer in a Play

– Paapa Essiedu, The Effect, National Theatre

– Joseph Fiennes, Dear England, National Theatre / Prince Edward Theatre

James Norton, A Little Life, Harold Pinter Theatre / Savoy Theatre

– Taylor Russell, The Effect, National Theatre

– Andrew Scott, VANYA, Duke of York’s Theatre

– Sheridan Smith, Shirley Valentine, Duke of York’s Theatre


Best Supporting Performer in a Play

– Michele Austin, The Effect, National Theatre

– Will Close, Dear England, National Theatre / Prince Edward Theatre

– Bryony Corrigan, I, Daniel Blake, UK tou

r– Luke Thompson, A Little Life, Harold Pinter Theatre / Savoy Theatre

– Zubin Varla, A Little Life, Harold Pinter Theatre / Savoy Theatre

– Anjana Vasan, A Streetcar Named Desire, Almeida Theatre / Phoenix Theatre


Best Takeover Performance

– Karis Anderson, TINA – The Tina Turner Musical, Aldwych Theatre

– Cory English, Back to the Future: The Musical, Adelphi Theatre

– Mason Alexander Park, Cabaret, Kit Kat Club at the Playhouse Theatre

– Lucy St. Louis, Wicked, Apollo Victoria Theatre

– Rebecca Lucy Taylor, Cabaret, Kit Kat Club at the Playhouse Theatre

Aimee Lou Wood, Cabaret, Kit Kat Club at the Playhouse Theatre


Best Professional Debut Performance

– Rita Bernard-Shaw, Trouble in Butetown, Donmar Warehouse

– Laura Dawkes, Frozen, Theatre Royal Drury Lane

– Lou Henry, SIX, UK tour

Grace Hodgett Young, Sunset Boulevard, Savoy Theatre

– Louis McCartney, Stranger Things: The First Shadow, Phoenix Theatre

– Andrew Richardson, Guys and Dolls, Bridge Theatre


Best New Musical

– Disney’s Newsies, Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre, with music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Jack Feldman and book by Harvey Fierstein

– The Little Big Things, @sohoplace, with music by Nick Butcher, lyrics by Nick Butcher and Tom Ling, and book by Joe White

– Mrs Doubtfire, Shaftesbury Theatre, with music and lyrics by Wayne Kirkpatrick and Karey Kirkpatrick, and book by Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell

Next to Normal, Donmar Warehouse, with music by Tom Kitt, and book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey

– Operation Mincemeat, Fortune Theatre, with music, book and lyrics by SpitLip, composed of David Cumming, Felix Hagan, Natasha Hodgson and Zoë Roberts

– The Time Traveller’s Wife, Apollo Theatre, with music and lyrics by Joss Stone and Dave Stewart, book by Lauren Gunderson and additional lyrics by Kait Kerrigan


Best Musical Revival

– Guys and Dolls, Bridge Theatre

– La Cage aux Folles, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

– The Lord of the Rings, The Watermill Theatre

– The Sound of Music, Chichester Festival Theatre

– Sunset Boulevard, Savoy Theatre

– The Wizard of Oz, Curve, Leicester / The London Palladium


Best New Play

– A Little Life, Harold Pinter Theatre / Savoy Theatre, adapted by Koen Tachelet, Ivo van Hove and Hanya Yanagihara

– Cowbois, Swan Theatre, written by Charlie Josephine

– Dear England, National Theatre / Prince Edward Theatre, written by James Graham

Hamnet, Swan Theatre / Garrick Theatre, by Lolita Chakrabarti

– The Motive and the Cue, National Theatre, by Jack Thorne

– Stranger Things: The First Shadow, Phoenix Theatre, by Kate Trefry with original story by Jack Thorne, Kate Trefry and the Duffer Brothers


Best Play Revival

– A Streetcar Named Desire, Almeida Theatre / Phoenix Theatre

– The Effect, National Theatre

– The Merchant of Venice 1936, UK tour

– The Pillowman, Duke of York’s Theatre

– Shirley Valentine, Duke of York’s Theatre

– VANYA, Duke of York’s Theatre


Best West End Show

– Back to the Future: The Musical, Adelphi Theatre

– Cabaret, Kit Kat Club at the Playhouse Theatre

– Les Misérables, Sondheim Theatre

– Moulin Rouge! The Musical, Piccadilly Theatre

– The Phantom of the Opera, His Majesty’s Theatre

– SIX, Vaudeville Theatre


Best Regional Production

– Boys from the Blackstuff, Royal Court, Liverpool

– Choir Boy, Bristol Old Vic– In Dreams, Leeds Playhouse

– The Lord of the Rings, The Watermill Theatre

– Miss Saigon, Sheffield Crucible

– To Wong Foo The Musical, Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester


Best Off-West End Production

– Flowers for Mrs Harris, Riverside Studios

– George Takei’s Allegiance, Charing Cross Theatre

– Othello, Riverside Studios

– Rebecca, Charing Cross Theatre

– Scouts! The Musical, The Other Palace Studio

– The Shape of Things, Park Theatre


Best Concert Event

– Ariana DeBose in Concert, The London Palladium

– Darren Criss, The London Palladium

Evita in Concert, Theatre Royal Drury Lane

Love Never Dies in Concert, Theatre Royal Drury Lane

– Once: In Concert, The London Palladium

– Schwartz at 75, Lyric Theatre


Best Direction

– Polly Findlay, Assassins, Chichester Festival Theatre

– Rebecca Frecknall, A Streetcar Named Desire, Almeida Theatre / Phoenix Theatre

– Rupert Goold, Dear England, National Theatre / Prince Edward Theatre

– Nicholas Hytner, Guys and Dolls, Bridge Theatre

Jamie Lloyd, Sunset Boulevard, Savoy Theatre

– Sam Mendes, The Motive and the Cue, National Theatre


Best Musical Direction/Supervision

– Mark Aspinall and Sioned Saunders, The Lord of the Rings, The Watermill Theatre

– Nick Barstow and Nigel Lilley, Next to Normal, Donmar Warehouse

– Cat Beveridge and Nigel Lilley, The Witches, National Theatre

– Tom Brady, Guys and Dolls, Bridge Theatre

– Stephen Brooker, Alfonso Casado Trigo and Stephen Metcalfe, Stephen Sondheim’s Old Friends, Gielgud Theatre

Alan Williams, Sunset Boulevard, Savoy Theatre


Best Casting Direction

– Alastair Coomer and Naomi Downham, The Motive and the Cue, National Theatre

– Anna Cooper, Next to Normal, Donmar Warehouse

Jill Green, The Little Big Things, @sohoplace

– Bryony Jarvis-Taylor, Dear England, National Theatre / Prince Edward Theatre

– Bryony Jarvis-Taylor, The Witches, National Theatre

– Jessica Ronane, Stranger Things: The First Shadow, Phoenix Theatre


Best Choreography

– Fabian Aloise, Sunset Boulevard, Savoy Theatre

Matt Cole, Disney’s Newsies, Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre

– Ellen Kane and Hannes Langolf, Dear England, National Theatre / Prince Edward Theatre

– Stephen Mear, La Cage aux Folles, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

– Arlene Phillips with James Cousins, Guys and Dolls, Bridge Theatre

– Kenrick ‘H2O’ Sandy, Free Your Mind, Factory International


Best Costume Design

– Bunny Christie and Deborah Andrews, Guys and Dolls, Bridge Theatre

– Lizzie Clachan, The Witches, National Theatre

Ryan Dawson Laight, La Cage aux Folles, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

– Gregory Gale, To Wong Foo The Musical, Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester

– Gareth Pugh, Free Your Mind, Factory International

– Grace Smart, Cowbois, Swan Theatre


Best Lighting Design

– Rory Beaton and Lucy Carter, The Time Traveller’s Wife, Apollo Theatre

– Jon Clark, Dear England, National Theatre / Prince Edward Theatre

– Jon Clark, The Effect, National Theatre

– Jon Clark, Stranger Things: The First Shadow, Phoenix Theatre

– Paule Constable, Guys and Dolls, Bridge Theatre

Jack Knowles, Sunset Boulevard, Savoy Theatre


Best Set Design

– Miriam Buether, Stranger Things: The First Shadow, Phoenix Theatre

Bunny Christie, Guys and Dolls, Bridge Theatre

– Lizzie Clachan, Assassins, Chichester Festival Theatre

– Lizzie Clachan, The Witches, National Theatre

– Chloe Lamford, Phaedra, National Theatre

– Morgan Large, Disney’s Newsies, Wembley Troubadour Park Theatre


Best Sound Design

– Paul Arditti, Guys and Dolls, Bridge Theatre–

Paul Arditti, Stranger Things: The First Shadow, Phoenix Theatre

– Dan Balfour and Tom Gibbons, Dear England, National Theatre / Prince Edward Theatre

– Adam Fisher, The Lord of the Rings, The Watermill Theatre

Adam Fisher, Sunset Boulevard, Savoy Theatre

– Tony Gayle, Next to Normal, Donmar Warehouse


Best Video Design

– 59 Productions, Stranger Things: The First Shadow, Phoenix Theatre

Nathan Amzi and Joe Ransom, Sunset Boulevard, Savoy Theatre

– Andrzej Goulding, Miss Saigon, Sheffield Crucible

– Andrzej Goulding, The Time Traveller’s Wife, Apollo Theatre

– Ash J Woodward, Dear England, National Theatre / Prince Edward Theatre

– Ash J Woodward, The Witches, National Theatre


Best Graphic Design

– Bob King Creative, Operation Mincemeat, Fortune Theatre

Muse Creative, Guys and Dolls, Bridge Theatre

– Jeremy Coysten and North Design, Free Your Mind, Factory International

– The Creative Partnership, Stranger Things: The First Shadow, Phoenix Theatre

– Feast Creative, La Cage aux Folles, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

– Rick Guest, Rob Rae and the NT Graphics Studio, Dear England, National Theatre / Prince Edward Theatre


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