Entertainment & Arts

Legally Blonde up for seven theatre awards

Sheridan Smith
Image caption Sheridan Smith has been in Legally Blonde for a year

West End musical Legally Blonde has gained seven nominations in the annual What's On Stage awards.

They include a nod for its star Sheridan Smith as best actress in a musical.

Husband and wife Lee Mead and Denise Van Outen go head-to-head in the category of best takeover in a role.

Rory Kinnear is up for best actor following his victory this week at Evening Standard awards for his roles in Hamlet and Measure for Measure.

The 11th annual nominations were announced at London's Cafe de Paris on Friday.

The shortlists across 26 different award categories were based on nominations from theatregoers over the past month.

Sheridan Smith, best known for her role in the BBC sitcom Two Pints Of Lager And A Packet Of Crisps, faces competition in the best actress in a musical category from ex-EastEnder Tamzin Outhwaite, who was recognised for her role in Sweet Charity.

Smith said: "I'm absolutely thrilled, I've had such a brilliant year doing Legally Blonde. We're so pleased that the audiences have loved it and it would be amazing to win a few awards."

The actress said she felt emotional about leaving the show in five weeks.

"I've been doing it for a nearly a year. I'm terrified of leaving because we've become like a family at the Savoy Theatre. I'm going to really miss it."

Sweet Charity, which transferred to the West End from the Menier Chocolate Factory, has a total of six nominations, along with musical Love Never Dies - the sequel to Phantom of the Opera.

Sweet Charity's star Outhwaite told the BBC: "I was in the show for just over a year and I loved every minute of it, but I have a two-year-old at home so it was really nice to get back to being a mum.

"I'm only in week four, so I think soon I might get itchy feet, but at the moment I'm enjoying making jam and being at home."

Up against Rory Kinnear for best actor in a play are David Suchet, Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch (After the Dance), Matthew Macfadyen (Private Lives), Simon Russell Beale (Deathtrap and London Assurance) and Toby Stephens (The Real Thing).

Image caption David Suchet starred in Arthur Miller's All My Sons

Career highlight

Suchet, who starred in the six-times nominated All My Sons, described his role in the Arthur Miller play as "the highlight of my 41 years as an actor".

His co-star Zoe Wanamaker is up for best actress in a play alongside Sex and the City's Kim Cattrall for her portrayal of Amanda in Noel Coward's Private Lives.

Also nominated are Helen McCrory (The Late Middle Classes), Jenny Jules (Ruined), Nancy Carroll (After the Dance) and Tracie Bennet (End of the Rainbow).

Lee Mead and Denise Van Outen were nominated for best takeover in a role for their appearances in Wicked and Legally Blonde respectively.

Playwright Anya Reiss, who wrote Spur of the Moment for the Royal Court when she was 17 years old, is up for the London newcomer award. She won the Evening Standard's most promising playwright award earlier this week.

She is up against Strictly dance partners Ali Bastian and Brian Fortuna for their debut in dance show Burn the Floor, plus former Skins actor Daniel Kaluuya (Sucker Punch), Jacob Casselden (Tribes), Glee's Jonathan Groff (Deathtrap) and Robyn Addison (The Rivals).

In its 25th anniversary year, Les Miserables received five nominations, including theatre event of the year - for the O2 concert - and best West End show.

The winners are voted for by theatregoers, and will be revealed on 20 February 2011 at the Prince of Wales Theatre.

The full list of nominees is available on the Whatsonstage.com website.

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