New audience-voted theatre awards launched by
original creators of WhatsOnStage Awards 
– including UK’s first award for Musical Direction

Leading theatre commentators Mark Shenton and Terri Paddock have teamed up to launch a new audience-voted, industry accolade. Last week, the Laurence Olivier shortlists honoured some of the biggest names and shows of 2014. This week, the Also Recognised Awards celebrate lesser-known but equally worthy talent in fields overlooked by the Oliviers and other award bodies.

The Awards are voted for online at www.MyTheatreMates.com, a new digital hub run jointly by Paddock and Shenton.

The first annual Also Recognised Awards comprise ten categories, including six that were recently dropped by the WhatsOnStage Awards, founded in 2001 by Paddock with the close involvement of Shenton, then her chief theatre critic at WhatsOnStage.com. The six categories are:

  • Best Ensemble Performance
  • Best Solo Performance
  • Best Shakespearean Production
  • Best Original Music
  • London Newcomer of the Year
  • Theatre Event of the Year

Paddock, who co-founded and, for over 16 years, ran WhatsOnStage.com before her departure in December 2013, explains: I first read about WhatsOnStage dropping these categories on Mark’s blog for The Stage, and was alarmed and saddened by the new owner’s decision. Mark and I agree that the work these categories represent remains vitally important and deserves to be celebrated. We felt we had to take action.

Shenton continued: While we were at it, we also wanted to give recognition to other important disciplines that aren’t covered by conventional theatre awards, not least Musical Direction, without which no musical could exist.

The Also Recognised Award for Musical Direction is the first of its kind in the UK. It’s backed by musical director Mike Dixon and director Andrew Keates, who helped draw up the Musical Direction shortlist. Dixon and Keates have waged a high-profile lobbying campaign urging WhatsOnStage and Laurence Olivier awards organisers to grant musical direction creative parity with the work of directors, choreographers, set, lighting and sound designers.

Andrew Keates commented: I’m so pleased to be signed up and associated with such soldiers of theatre, to seek out and recognise those that have been ignored in our industry for too long.

Mike Dixon added: These awards herald a new age, a new voice and perhaps are a new overture to finally achieving creative team parity.

The three other new categories in the first annual Also Recognised Awards put the spotlight on the creativity of digital marketing and advertising in theatre:

  • Best Show Poster
  • Best Show Trailer
  • Best Twitter Engagement

Nominations for the Also Recognised Awards have been drawn up by Shenton and Paddock. Voting for the winners opens today, Monday 16th March 2015, and continues until Friday 16tth April 2015. Results will be announced on www.mytheatremates.com.

MyTheatreMates is also inviting suggestions for other new award fields not already covered elsewhere. Recommendations with sufficient merit and industry backing will be introduced in future years.

And the nominees are…

Best Musical Direction 

  • Tom Deering, Made in Dagenham, Adelphi Theatre
  • Simon Lambert, The Return of the Soldier, Jermyn Street Theatre
  • Tim Sutton, Memphis, Shaftesbury Theatre
  • Freddie Tapner, Girlfriends, Union Theatre
  • Alan Williams, Assassins, Menier Chocolate Factory
  • Elliott Ware, Sunny Afternoon, Hampstead & Harold Pinter Theatres

Best Original Music

  • David Byrne & Fatboy Slim, Here Lies Love, National Theatre, Dorfman
  • David Bryan & Joe DiPietro, Memphis, Shaftesbury Theatre
  • Benj Pasek & Justin Paul, Dogfight, Southwark Playhouse
  • Grant Olding, Drunk, Bridewell Theatre
  • Charles Miller and Tim Sanders, Return of the Soldier, Jermyn Street Theatre
  • Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, Dessa Rose, Trafalgar Studios

Best Ensemble Performance

  • The Play That Goes Wrong, Duchess Theatre
  • Toast, Park Theatre
  • Drunk, Bridewell Theatre
  • Another Country, Trafalgar Studios
  • Forbidden Broadway, Menier Chocolate Factory & Vaudeville Theatre 

Best Solo Performance

  • Kevin Bishop, Fully Committed, Menier Chocolate Factory
  • Benjamin Scheuer, The Lion, St James Studio
  • Fiona Shaw, The Testament of Mary, Barbican Theatre
  • Kevin Spacey, Clarence Darrow, Old Vic Theatre
  • Juliet Stevenson, Happy Days, Young Vic Theatre

Best Shakespearean Production

  • The Comedy of Errors, Shakespeare’s Globe
  • Henry IV, Donmar Warehouse
  • King Lear, National Theatre, Olivier
  • The Merchant of Venice, Almeida Theatre
  • Richard III, Trafalgar Transformed, Trafalgar Studios

London Newcomer of the Year

  • Damian Buhagiar, In the Heights, Southwark Playhouse
  • Laura Jane Matthewson, Dogfight, Southwark Playhouse
  • Barney Norris (playwright), Visitors, Arcola & Bush Theatres
  • Eva Noblezada, Miss Saigon, Prince Edward Theatre
  • Chris Macdonald (playwright), Eye of a Needle, Southwark Playhouse
  • Patsy Ferran, Blithe Spirit, Gielgud Theatre

Best Twitter Engagement

  • @lesmisofficial, Les Miserables, Queen’s Theatre
  • @bookofmormonldn, The Book of Mormon, Prince of Wales Theatre
  • @youngvictheatre, Young Vic Theatre
  • @urinetownUK, Urinetown, St James & Apollo Theatres
  • @TrafTransformed, Trafalgar Transformed, Trafalgar Studios

Best Show Poster

  • John, DV8, National Theatre, Lyttelton
  • King Charles III, Almeida & Wyndham’s Theatres
  • The Testament of Mary, Barbican Theatre
  • Treasure Island, National Theatre, Olivier
  • Urinetown, St James & Apollo Theatres

Best Show Trailer

  • Miss Saigon, Prince Edward Theatre
  • Charlie & the Chocolate Factory (new cast), Theatre Royal Drury Lane
  • 1984, Headlong Theatre
  • Medea, National Theatre, Olivier
  • Birdland, Royal Court Theatre
  • Notes from Underground, The Print Room

Theatre Event of the Year

  • Lindsay Lohan making stage debut in Speed-the-Plow – and completing the run
  • Reopening of Apollo Theatre in March, just three months after ceiling partially collapsed
  • Opening of Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at Shakespeare’s Globe
  • Opening of Dorfman Theatre (formerly Cottesloe) as part of NT Futures Project
  • Inaugural #LoveTheatre day on Twitter
  • The announcement of Richard Bean’s Great Britain within 24 hours of News of the World phone hacking trial conclusion
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