The nominations for the 2017 WhatsOnStage Awards have been announced – so who is up for what and who could potentially walk away with the awards? 

Best Actor in a Play:  Ian Hallard (Boys in a Band), Ian McKellen (No Man’s Land), Ralph Fiennes (Richard III), Jamie Parker (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) and Kenneth Branagh (The Entertainer). 

Some extremely strong contenders in this category – literally pitting the best against the best, but considering his win at the Evening Standard Awards, Ralph Fiennes could potentially win again for his role as Richard III.

Best Actress in a Play:  Lily James (Romeo and Juliet), Billie Piper (Yerma), Michelle Terry (Henry V), Pixie Lott (Breakfast at Tiffany’s) and Helen McCrory (The Deep Blue Sea). 

A variety of different roles and performances in this category, but the one in which stands out for having the most critical acclaim and positive audience reaction is Billie Piper‘s performance in Yerma, which appeared at the Young Vic earlier this year.

Best Actor in a Musical: Charlie Stemp (Half a Sixpence), Michael C Hall (Lazarus), Michael Xavier (Sunset Boulevard), Ramin Karimloo (Murder Ballad), Andy Karl (Groundhog Day). 

Given the rapturous reception that his performance has been given both in Chichester and now the West End, Charlie Stemp‘s performance in Half a Sixpence is extremely strong and almost certain to win this award – if he can fight off the competition from Michael Xavier and Ramin Karimloo.

Best Actress in a Musical: Amber Riley (Dreamgirls), Carrie Hope Fletcher (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang), Devon- Elise Johnson (Half a Sixpence), Glenn Close (Sunset Boulevard) and Sheridan Smith (Funny Girl) 

This is probably one of the most difficult categories to call, given the extraordinary talent on offer – all getting great acclaim for their performances. But it is definitely going to be a choice between Glenn Close or Sheridan Smith – both delivering extremely strong performances that went down well with critics and audiences.

Best West End Show: Matilda the Musical, Les Miserables, Kinky Boots, Wicked and The Phantom of the Opera. 

All are equally worthy of the award, but on a personal basis I would have to say that Kinky Boots is a particularly worthy winner thanks to its wonderful spirit and heartwarming story that is still wowing audiences.

Best Off-West End Production: Grey Gardens, The Last Five Years, Ragtime, The Boys in the Band and Side Show. 

As ever, the quality of Off-West End productions is strong and varied, but the production that still sticks in my mind and I still think about the most is Grey Gardens which was wonderfully heartbreaking to watch.

Predictions for other categories? My other predictions for the awards include Casey Nicholaw for Best Choreography for Dreamgirls, John Tiffany for Best Direction for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Jesus Christ Superstar for Best Musical Revival, Best Play Revival for No Man’s LandHalf a Sixpence for Best New Musical and The Comedy About a Bank Robbery for Best New Play.

The winners of the WhatsOnStage Awards will be announced at the Awards Concert on 19 February 2017. For a full list of nominees and to cast your vote visit: http://awards.whatsonstage.com/

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