Legally Blonde and Wicked dominate Whatsonstage.com awards

Published Sunday, 20 February 2011
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Sheridan Smith named best actress in a musical for her role in the former, while the latter won best West End show

They are both West End productions which appeal to teenage girls and young women and they were both crowned big winners at the only major theatre awards voted on exclusively by the public.

The 11th Whatsonstage.com awards were handed out in central London with Legally Blonde the Musical winning the most. The feelgood show, about a pink-obsessed society girl who astounds and dazzles everybody at law school, won four prizes including best new musical and best choreography.

Sheridan Smith, who co-hosted the ceremony, was named best actress in a musical for her portrayal of Elle Woods and Jill Halfpenny, the one time Geordie police officer turned nail salon owner in EastEnders, won best supporting actress in a musical for her role as a sassy hairdresser, Paulette.

Wicked the Musical, with its enormous social networking savvy fanbase, always does well in any public vote and it won best West End show for the second year running. It has been dropped from this year's Olivier prize public vote to give someone else a chance. Rachel Tucker also won best takeover in a role for her performance as green witch Elphaba. Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Love Never Dies, which got off to a rocky critical start but this month extended its run into 2012, won two prizes for best actor (Ramin Karimloo) and best supporting actor (Joseph Millson). Les Miserables' 25th birthday celebrations were celebrated. The anniversary concert at the O2 was event of the year and best ensemble performance and the production at its first home, the Barbican, was best musical revival.

In the straight play categories, the all-black cast Cat on a Hot Tin Roof won best play revival, Howard Brenton's Anne Boleyn at Shakespeare's Globe was best new play, Yes, Prime Minister was best new comedy and the National Theatre's Hamlet was named best Shakespearean production. Zoe Wanamaker and David Suchet were named best actress and actor in a play for All My Sons, with Tamsin Greig named best supporting actress for The Little Dog Laughed and Nigel Lindsay best supporting actor for Broken Glass at the Tricycle. Glee star Jonathan Groff was named newcomer of the year for Deathtrap.

Terri Paddock, whatsonstage.com's editorial director, said the awards were different to the Oliviers, where theatres such as the Donmar Warehouse and Royal Court routinely dominated. "Our 45,000-plus theatregoer votes have instead, once again, concentrated their accolades on the strong work produced by the commercial sector.

"It's fantastic to see crowd-pleasers like Legally Blonde, Les Miserables and Yes, Prime Minister receive the recognition they deserve, alongside smaller but equally worthwhile productions like Broken Glass and Anne Boleyn."

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media 2011
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