Whatsonstage.com awards: Danny Boyle takes on Bard for theatre prize

Danny Boyle and Mark Rylance in Twelfth Night Danny Boyle (l) directed the Olympic opening ceremony, while Mark Rylance is seen here as Olivia in Twelfth Night

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Danny Boyle's Olympic opening ceremony is going head-to head with Shakespeare at the Whatsonstage.com theatre awards.

Boyle's stadium spectacular is shortlisted for theatre event of the year alongside the multi-lingual Globe to Globe Shakespeare festival.

The most nominated play is the National Theatre's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.

The winners will be revealed in February.

Boyle's nomination comes shortly after he was honoured for his Olympic ceremony at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards in November.

The Globe to Globe season, part of the Cultural Olympiad's World Shakespeare Festival, staged 37 Shakespeare plays in 37 languages.

Most nominated shows

  • The Bodyguard, Singin' in the Rain, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Twelfth Night/Richard III - 6
  • Jesus Christ Superstar, Sweeney Todd, Chariots of Fire, Top Hat, Abigail's Party and Kiss Me, Kate - 5
  • Constellations - 4
  • Daddy Long Legs, Hedda Gabler, The Ladykillers, Les Miserables, Long Day's Journey into Night, Merrily We Roll Along, Red Velvet, Soho Cinders, Sweet Smell of Success, Taboo, The Effect, The Last of the Haussmans - 3

Also on the shortlist for theatre event of the year is Mark Rylance's return to Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in Twelfth Night and Richard III, the Jesus Christ Superstar arena tour, the opening of the new St James Theatre, and Susan Boyle bio-musical I Dreamed a Dream.

The nominations were announced at London's Cafe de Paris on Friday.

The National Theatre's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, adapted from Mark Haddon's novel by Simon Stephens, is up for best new play. It has six nominations in total including best director (Marianne Elliott) and best actor (Luke Treadaway).

Also in the race for best play is Chariots of Fire (adapted by Mike Bartlett) and four original pieces: Howard Brenton's 55 Days, Nick Payne's Constellations, Lucy Prebble's The Effect, and Lolita Chakrabarti's Red Velvet, which starred her husband and best actor nominee Adrian Lester.

The best actor field is completed by Mark Rylance (Richard III and Twelfth Night), Rupert Everett (The Judas Kiss), David Haig (The Madness of George III) and David Suchet (Long Day's Journey into Night).

Start Quote

Maybe there'll be an extra leap in my step tonight”

End Quote Tom Chambers, on his nomination for Top Hat

Julie Walters (The Last of the Haussmans), Billie Piper (The Effect), Sally Hawkins (Constellations) and Hattie Morahan (A Doll's House), Sheridan Smith (Hedda Gabler) and Jill Halfpenny (Abigail's Party) battle it out for best actress.

Morahan, who won an Evening Standard Theatre award last month for her role as Nora in Ibsen's classic drama, said: "This is voted for by the audience so it's really rewarding to know you're making an impact.

"It's a well-known part in a very well-known play and so it does create a lot of attention, and people are interested in how you approach it."

She will reprise the role when A Doll's House returns to the Young Vic in April 2013.

Halfpenny played Beverley in the Menier Chocolate Factory revival of Mike Leigh's play, a role made famous by Alison Steadman in the original 1970s production.

"It was a brilliant role, but the stakes were high," Halfpenny told the BBC. "It's always a challenge when you're doing role that is so well remembered, but it hadn't been done for 10 years and it felt like the time was right."

Heather Headley as Rachel Marron in The Bodyguard Heather Headley as Rachel Marron in The Bodyguard

On the musical front, both the The Bodyguard and Singin' in the Rain have six nominations apiece.

Based on the 1990s film starring the late Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner, The Bodyguard opened this week at the Adelphi Theatre.

It is nominated for best new musical, while Heather Headley and Lloyd Owen are in the running for best actress and actor in a musical. Thea Sharrock gets a best director nod.

Also up for best new musical is another screen-to-stage adaptation, Top Hat, based on the 1935 Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers film.

Tom Chambers, who stars with Summer Strallen, earned a nomination for best actor in a musical.

"This is my West End debut, so maybe there'll be an extra leap in my step tonight," the Strictly Come Dancing champion said at the awards launch party.

"We're blessed because we've been given the chance to do the original choreography from the film. It's been amazing not just to be in the shoes of Fred Astaire but to dance the original steps."

The main musical categories are dominated by regional powerhouse, Chichester Festival Theatre, which transferred three shows to the West End this year - Singin' in the Rain, Sweeney Todd and Kiss Me, Kate (just opened at the Old Vic).

The three productions go head-to-head-to-head for best musical revival.

Now in their 13th year, the Whatsonstage.com awards are voted for by theatre audiences.

The full list of nominees in all 27 categories is on the Whatsonstage.com website.

The awards ceremony, hosted by comedians Rufus Hound and Mel Giedroyc, takes place at the West End's Palace Theatre on 17 February.

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