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'Miss Saigon' and Shakespeare get public's vote at London's WhatsOnStage awards

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LONDON — "Miss Saigon" and Shakespeare have triumphed at Britain's WhatsOnStage awards, as theatergoers rewarded seasoned shows, spectacle and star power.

"Miss Saigon" took nine trophies at Sunday's ceremony, whose winners were decided by public vote. It was named best musical and best West End show, took lead acting honors for stars Eva Noblezada and Jon Jon Briones and also netted prizes for supporting actor and actress, direction, choreography and design.

Producer Cameron Mackintosh said the prizes vindicated his decision to bring the show back to London in a new production, 25 years after its premiere.

"I've always said the public knows best," Mackintosh said.

A tragic Vietnam War love story that famously lands a real helicopter on the stage, "Miss Saigon" ran for a decade in London from 1989. On Broadway, it ran for 4,063 performances until 2000.

The new version opened in May to strong box office and positive reviews.

Mackintosh said it had been "wonderful to see ... a young audience coming and taking it as if it's a brand new musical."

And at a time when several new musicals have closed after relatively short London runs, Mackintosh said that the show's success "shows that a great musical play is actually timeless."

A Donmar Warehouse production of Shakespeare's bloody tragedy "Coriolanus" starring "Thor" screen baddie Tom Hiddleston took three prizes, including best revival of a play.

"Doctor Who" and "Broadchurch" star David Tennant was named best actor in a play for the Royal Shakespeare Company's "Richard II."

"These plays have been revived for 400 years, and there's no sign of that letting up," said Tennant, who has been cast as a comic-book villain in Netflix-produced Marvel drama "AKA Jessica Jones."

"It's the language that sings down the centuries."

The awards are sponsored by website whatsonstage.com.


Follow Jill Lawless on Twitter at http://twitter.com/JillLawless

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Photo Gallery:
PHOTO: British performer Beverley Knight, left, and US musician David Bryan, winners of Best New Musical for Memphis the Musical, pose for photographers in the winners room, during the The Whatsonstage Awards 2015, at the Prince of Wales Theatre, in London, Sunday,  Feb. 15, 2015. (Photo by John Phillips/AP)
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