WhatsOnStage Awards

05 Jan 2024

Calling all theatre lovers and aficionados! It's time to celebrate the wonderful achievements of the world of theatre over the past 12 months—awards season is here! 

In partnership with the WhatsOnStage Awards, Travelzoo is sponsoring the Best New Musical prize for 2023. The six nominations are below, each a spectacular new musical that has debuted this year—which would get your vote?

The cast of Disney's NEWSIES, credit Johan Persson

'Disney's Newsies'

Disney's cult 1992 movie has had a West End makeover, offering a new take on this story of striking and unrest. Time Out notes its joyful spirit, "sending its huge cast of plucky, rebellious paperboys tumbling and leaping across its mammoth stage as they stand up to big the bosses who are determined to grind them down".

Set it late 19th-century New York, the production focuses on the poverty-stricken orphan boys forced to earn a precarious living selling newspapers on the streets. When the tabloid leaders try to eat into their profits, the boys risk their livelihoods by going on strike.

Travelzoo Producer Emily Booth said "there was no bad seat in the house" and that "some really touching moments" had her shedding a few tears. Troubadour Theatre's rendition of this production certainly captures the spirit of the age.

Bronté Barbé as Katherine Plumber in Disney's NEWSIES, credit Johan Persson

'The Big Little Things'

Labelled by The Guardian as a "true-story tearjerker", The Big Little Things is based on a memoir by Henry Fraser and explores the ways one moment can change somebody’s life forever. After a holiday accident in 2009 which altered him physically and mentally, this "immense crowd-pleaser" (The Guardian) dramatises Henry's refusal to succumb to the odds that are stacked against him.

This "extraordinary tale of fight" (Time Out) features direction from Luke Sheppard, who is noted for his work on the successes that are "& Juliet" and "My Son's a Queer". With lyrics from Tom Ling and music by Nick Butcher, this "beautifully big-hearted pop musical" (Time Out) will see you reaching for your hanky before the night is out. 

Ed Larkin & Jonny Amies (Henry Fraser) in The Little Big Things, credit Pamela Raith 

'Mrs Doubtfire'

Taking us back to the 1990s with a 21st-century twist, Mrs Doubtfire hit Shaftesbury Avenue back in May this year. Daniel Hillard struggles to cope with his divorce and loss of custody of his children. Disguised as the elderly Scottish nanny Mrs Euphegenia Doubtfire, our protagonist reintegrates with his family, but his ruse soon becomes difficult to maintain… 

Aside from the "twenty-first-century jokes, perfectly paced book, and silly voices galore" (Time Out), this show offers a warming and important conclusion: "family is what you make it" (Time Out). 

According to London Theatre, this production "is a sizzling-hot ticket", and there's time to book until June 2024, so be sure to give this nostalgic show a watch!

The cast of Mrs. Doubtfire the musical, credit Manuel Harlan

'Next to Normal'

Focusing on some hard-hitting themes, this 2008 American rock musical had a West End revival this summer at Donmar Warehouse. The production centres on a mother who struggles with worsening bipolar disorder and the effects that this illness has on herself and her family. "The performances are superb" (The Guardian), and The New York Times says that this new rendition "brings extra warmth to the story of a woman in psychological free fall".

With music from Tom Kitt, and book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey, this musical has claimed three Tonys, including Best Original Score, and a Pulitzer Prize since its Broadway premiere in 2009. Will there be a new title to add to that collection this year? According to The New York Times, come the end of the show "it feels as if there’s no more vital theatrical place to be", so we shall see…

Jamie Parker and Caissie in Next to Normal, credit Marc Brenner

'Operation Mincemeat'

After a string of successful Fringe shows, this bizarre wartime comedy made it to the Fortune Theatre in March this year. It tells the unbelievable true story of a secret, stolen corpse mission that led to the end of World War II. The Express says "this show was already a major triumph, now it is sheer perfection". 

The comedy and creativity from Spitlip certainly shines through, with The Metro labelling the production as "pure theatrical serotonin—a show that will leave you with a spring in your step like few others".

This "unmissable cluster bomb of creativity" (Daily Mirror) is available for bookings until June, 2024, so be sure to check out this "joyful success" (The Guardian) of a musical, which makes proud Fringe lovers everywhere. 

The cast of Operation Mincemeat, credit Matt Crockett

'The Time Traveller's Wife'

"That feeling when you ugly cry in the theatre…" Travelzoo's Communications Director, Cat Jordan, couldn't fight the tears watching this musical rendition of the award-winning novel. Co-stars David Hunter and Joanna Woodward "make an endearing couple" (Time Out) and even though this production is "determined to give you a good time", "you'll probably feel a little teary" (Time Out) in parts. 

Henry has an extraordinary disorder. At any moment, he could be ripped from the present and thrown into a different time. His long-suffering wife, Clare, desperately awaits his return. This tale of love against all odds sees Audrey Niffenegger's book given to the stage. Dry eyes? There's no such thing in this house. 

Brought to life with music from Joss Stone and Dave Stewart, this show is available to book until March 2024, but be sure to pack your tissues— Cat certainly recommends them!

David Hunter as Henry in The Time Traveller's Wife the Musical, credit Johan Persson
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