WhatsOnStage Awards 2016

Image source: WhatsOnStage Awards website

So, that’s it! The voting for this year’s WhatsOnStage Awards ended yesterday.

I’ve always been a rather cynical person, so it came as a bit of a surprise when I held the belief last year that either of the Sunny Afternoon nominations stood a chance of winning… I suppose when you love something that much you can get blinded to the facts for a while.

Anyway, since last year’s Miss Saigon Awards (a not at all childish re-naming) I’ve come to better understand the near pointlessness of these awards. If that sounds like sour grapes, bear with me.

It’s a lovely sentiment to have theatregoers vote for their favourite moments of the past year, but there are so many factors that can interfere with this that it makes it a bit of a farce.

The nature of it being online, and the majority of the publicity coming via social media, isolates a good portion of theatre audiences – whilst most people (though not all) have internet access, plenty don’t have either email addresses or any social media accounts.

But my real gripe is the fact that anyone can vote. You don’t have to have seen the nominated actors or shows – you just access a website, enter your email address & postcode, and you’re in! Where this really has an effect is when big names or people associated with certain fandoms have been in theatre that year. They’ll get on the shortlist (nominated by us online too) and then wipe the floor with the rest of the nominees. They may well deserve it, but you’ll never be 100% sure… The only interest you then get is if there’s more than one of these people in the same category. For example, last year David Tennant was up against Tom Hiddleston for Best Actor in a Play – the former Timelord coming out victorious. It becomes a popularity contest between fans who have never seen their idol in their nominated show. Utterly meaningless.

So, on that note, I’ve highlighted my choices & predictions below. They are extremely rarely the same option. I’m still trying to find some good odds for some of these…

Best Actor in a Play sponsored by Radisson Blu Edwardian:

Benedict Cumberbatch, Hamlet

James McAvoy, The Ruling Class

Bradley Cooper, The Elephant Man

Mark Rylance, Farinelli and the King

Alex Hassell, Henry V

Best Actress in a Play:

Nicole Kidman, Photograph 51

Denise Gough, People, Places and Things

Lia Williams, Oresteia

Rosalie Craig, As You Like It

Harriet Walter, Death of a Salesman

Best Actor in a Musical:

Killian Donnelly, Kinky Boots

Michael Ball, Mack and Mabel

Matt Henry, Kinky Boots

Sam Mackay, In the Heights

Ben Forster, Elf the Musical

Best Actress in a Musical sponsored by STAR:

Imelda Staunton, Gypsy

Beverley Knight, Cats

Kimberley Walsh, Elf the Musical

Lily Frazer, In the Heights

Katie Brayben, Beautiful

Best Supporting Actor in a Play:

Ciaran Hinds, Hamlet

Mark Gatiss, Three Days in the Country

Bertie Carvel, Bakkhai

Johnny Flynn, Hangmen

Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, Hamlet

Best Supporting Actress in a Play:

Sian Brooke, Hamlet

Anastasia Hille, Hamlet

Imogen Doel, The Importance of Being Earnest

Patsy Ferran, As You Like It

Judi Dench, The Winter’s Tale

Best Supporting Actor in a Musical:

Lucas Rush, American Idiot

Alexis Gerred, American Idiot

David Bedella, In The Heights

Jack Edwards, Mack and Mabel

Peter Davison, Gypsy

Best Supporting Actress in a Musical:

Lara Pulver, Gypsy

Jennie Dale, Elf the Musical

Amy Lennox, Kinky Boots

Lauren Samuels, Bend It Like Beckham

Victoria Hamilton-Barritt, In The Heights

Best New Play:



Photograph 51

People, Places and Things

Farinelli and the King

Best New Musical sponsored by Autograph:

Kinky Boots

Bend It Like Beckham

Elf the Musical


In The Heights

Best Play Revival:


Importance of Being Earnest

The Ruling Class

Death of a Salesman


Best Musical Revival sponsored by R&H Theatricals Europe:



High Society

Mack and Mabel

American Idiot

Best Direction sponsored by Managed Networks:

Hamlet, Lyndsey Turner

In The Heights, Luke Sheppard

American Idiot, Racky Plews

Kinky Boots, Jerry Mitchell

Gypsy, Jonathan Kent

Best Choreography sponsored by Capezio:

Kinky Boots, Jerry Mitchell

In The Heights, Drew McOnie

High Society, Nathan M Wright

Gypsy, Stephen Mear

American Idiot, Racky Plews

Best Set Design sponsored by Feast Creative:

Hamlet, Es Devlin

American Idiot, Sara Perks

Kinky Boots, David Rockwell

In The Heights, Takis

Gypsy, Anthony Ward

Best Lighting Design sponsored by White Light:

Hamlet, Jane Cox

In The Heights, Howard Hudson

American Idiot, Tim Deiling

Kinky Boots, Kenneth Posner

Gypsy, Mark Henderson

Best Off-West End Production:

Shock Treatment, King’s Head Theatre

Carrie, Southwark Playhouse

You Won’t Succeed on Broadway If You Don’t Have Any Jews, St James’s Theatre

Grand Hotel, Southwark Playhouse

Assassins, The Menier Chocolate Factory

Best Regional Production sponsored by Travelzoo:

Mack and Mabel, Chichester Festival Theatre and tour

Mary Poppins, tour

Anything Goes, Sheffield Crucible and tour

Hairspray, tour

Henry V, RSC

Best West End Show:


Les Miserables

Kinky Boots

Miss Saigon


hamletprod8 johan persson
Benedict Cumberbatch in Hamlet
Photo credit: Johan Persson

Bring on the Hamlet Awards on Sunday 21 February – let’s see if I’m right!


4 thoughts on “WhatsOnStage Awards 2016

  1. Aren’t all awards a farce really though? Theatre is a subjective artform as it is (at least to a degree) and is there guarantee in any awards that what is awarded is genuinely the best?

    In these awards factors such as that some productions are in tiny spaces and others in massive ones or that some things run for ages and others for a short time also factor into how many people actually could have seen whatever show as well.

    And is it really likely you could have any public voted award where everyone had to have seen every single show? Have you seen every one? Have you still voted in a category for which there is one show or one performance you didn’t see? Is that OK? Where is the line? I am not sure official voters for theatre (and film and so on) awards have seen everything that have to vote between myself. Call me a cynic.

    All this said, I have never followed the Whats on Stage Awards before but I will this year as there are a few things I am desperately hoping will win. I suppose I will be disappointed, but I still hope there is some chance.

    I hope Hamlet doesn’t win everything… although, from the shows I have seen I did think it deserved Set Design (but only this for me.) This said, I have seen most though not all of the nominated plays and performances… but I have only seen Gypsy of the musicals so there is a lot I don’t know in many categories.


  2. I didn’t say everyone who voted had to have seen every single one, but as it’s dubbed as the awards voted for by theatregoers… The voters should be theatregoers. That’s all! Rather than, for example, Sherlock fans voting for anyone with a link to the show without seeing them performing. I have actually seen a significant number of the productions nominated, so I feel I am in a good position to compare – where I didn’t see any performances I abstained from voting (as you can see from my colour coding). As long as you’ve seen one show/performer out of the nominees, and thought they were good, I think it’s fine to vote for them – as you’ve at least seen them in the role they’ve been nominated for. It’s where outside fandoms get involved that spoils things for everyone.

    Hamlet’s set was good, but it wasn’t designed with any thought for the people sat on either side – so I partly judged it on aesthetics but also whether it was practical for the audience or a bit self-indulgent on the designer’s part.


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