The LGBT community has swept up major prizes at the annual whatsonstage.com awards – the only theatre awards decided by the public.

Hairspray, which features male actor Michael Ball in the lead female role, won seven awards – including best new musical, best director and best actress in a musical. Michael Ball won the best actor in a musical award for his portrayal of Edna Turnblad.

Gay activist Sir Ian McKellen snatched the best actor award for his performance in King Lear and the Old Vic’s version of Almodovar’s All About My Mother – whose plot deals with transvestites and male prostitution – took the award for best new play.

All-male productions of Twelfth Night and the Taming of the Shrew, again at the Old Vic, won best ensemble performance.

It’s the eighth year of the whatsonstage.com awards, which, while overshadowed by the prestige of the Olivier awards, retains the credibility of being the only theatre awards ceremony voted for by the public, 25,000 of which voted this year.

The awards will presented at the Lyric theatre this Sunday.