2019 What’s On Stage Award nominations

As we move towards the year end, so award season gets into full swing and What’s On Stage have now revealed their nominations celebrating everyone who works in theatre apart from sound designers and musical directors. As ever, these awards tend to work around which fanbase can weaponise the strongest and so there’s lots of love for shows which might not necessarily be troubling many other shortlists…

Still, am liking the recognition for Milly Thomas and Dust, Es Devlin’s luminous set work for Girls & Boys, and Six and The Grinning Man getting into the cast recording category (though can’t quite work out how Come From Away fits into there as well…). And it’s a bit sad that the way their eligibility period works means that Hamilton comes up against Company, making the supporting actress/actor categories ridiculously difficult to choose between.

You can vote here until 31st January, and winners will be announced on 3rd March.

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Review: The Madness of George III, Nottingham Playhouse

I like almost everything about The Madness of George III at Nottingham Playhouse Theatre apart from the main performance…

“I am not going out of my mind, my mind is going out of me”

Mark Gatiss has been getting rave reviews for his performance in The Madness of George III at Nottingham Playhouse but for me, there was just a little bit too much of
for my liking. There’s lots to love in Adam Penfold’s production, particularly in key supporting roles like Adrian Scarborough’s Dr Willis and Debra Gillett’s Queen Charlotte, and some of the smaller parts like Nadia Albina’s Fitzroy and Jack Holden’s Greville.

And I enjoyed that Penfold cast several of the ostensibly male parts with women, allowing the likes of Louise Jameson and Stephanie Jacob. Throw in a lusciously opulent design from Robert Jones and strikingly dramatic lighting from Richard Howell, and it’s a real theatrical treat, a real statement of intent from this nicely ambitious artistic director.  Continue reading “Review: The Madness of George III, Nottingham Playhouse”

Review: Heart of Darkness, Birmingham REP

A hugely thought-provoking, contemporary retelling of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness from innovative theatre company imitating the dog

The story is impossible to tell, but it must be told”

Are some stories just too problematically complex to tell in today’s society? Or is there value in trying to pick them apart, to get to the heart of them in an attempt to understand? imitating the dog clearly cleave to the latter point of view as they forensically dissect Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (“it’s of its time, and that time is racist”) in this hugely thought-provoking production which creates a film noir-inspired adaptation in front of us.

Andrew Quick and Pete Brooks’ reworking is breath-taking in the formal invention of its scope, exploring the intersection of theatre and technology as well as thoroughly interrogating the text. So discussions about the inherent problems of the story smash up against striking effect-laden work on a green screen, spoken stage directions nestle next to a lip-synced Francis Ford Coppola. It’s a sensory overload. Continue reading “Review: Heart of Darkness, Birmingham REP”

Full list of 2018 UK Theatre Awards winners

The UK Theatre Awards are the only nationwide Awards to honour and celebrate outstanding achievements in regional theatre throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and they have just announced the winners for the 2018 awards, which include a well-deserved Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Theatre for Maxine Peake – take a look at her acceptance speech here. 

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Friday feeling – news aplenty

All hail the return of Nicola Walker to the stage! Get your tickets for Camelot! Discover the Heart of Darkness! Get your exam in musical theatre singing with ABRSM!


London Musical Theatre Orchestra has announced casting for Saturday’s concert version of Camelot at the London Palladium and there’s still a few tickets going. Packed with some of musical theatre’s best songs, LMTO’s concert version with full orchestra will celebrate the centenary of Alan Jay Lerner’s birth.

The role of Arthur will be played by Olivier Award-winner David Thaxton (Passion / Les Misérables / Jesus Christ Superstar), Guenevere will be played by Savannah Stevenson (Wicked / Aspects of Love / Follies), and Lancelot will be played by internationally renowned opera star Charles Rice (Mozart’s Requiem The Barber of Seville / Candide). Continue reading “Friday feeling – news aplenty”

Review: Cock, Minerva

Mike Bartlett’s Cock receives a stirring revival from director Kate Hewitt at Chichester’s Minerva Theatre 

“I suppose I like both, but that’s okay isn’t it, that’s okay?”

Sometimes you look back at a cast you’ve seen and think wow, I’m glad I booked for that. The original Royal Court production of Mike Bartlett’s Cock – revived here at Chichester’s Minerva – had a cast that included no less than Katherine Parkinson, Andrew Scott and Ben Whishaw enclosed in the claustrophobic intimacy of Miriam Buether’s brilliant design. So no pressure for director Kate Hewitt to live up to, honest…

And it is pressure that she lives up to, mainly because Bartlett’s play remains as fresh as a daisy (chain) nearly 10 years after it was written. Its exploration of fluid sexuality feels ripped out of the frothing mouth of clickbait-muffin Piers Morgan, its rejection of conventional sexual identity labels still a key issue for many, the complication of the dating world in the 21st century as sharply pertinent as ever.
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Winners for The Stage Debut Awards 2018

The Joe Allen Best West End Debut
Mohammad Amiri for The Jungle at the Playhouse Theatre
Ashley Banjo for Dick Whittington at the London Palladium
Bryan Cranston for Network at the National Theatre
Michelle Greenidge for Nine Night at the National Theatre
John McCrea for Everybody’s Talking About Jamie at the Apollo Theatre
Kelli O’Hara for The King and I at the London Palladium
Joe Robertson and Joe Murphy for The Jungle at the Playhouse Theatre
Lucie Shorthouse for Everybody’s Talking About Jamie at the Apollo Theatre
WINNER – Aidan Turner for The Lieutenant of Inishmore at the Noel Coward Theatre
Adrienne Warren for Tina: The Tina Turner Musical at the Aldwych Theatre

Best Actress In A Play Sponsored by Audible
Kitty Archer for One for Sorrow at the Royal Court, London
WINNER – Gemma Dobson for Rita, Sue and Bob Too at the Octagon Theatre, Bolton
Lorna Fitzgerald for The Shadow Factory at NST City, Southampton
Grainne O’Mahony for The Elephant Man at Bristol Old Vic

Best Actor In A Play  Sponsored by Audible
Seb Carrington for Summer and Smoke at the Almeida Theatre, London
WINNER – Akshay Sharan for The Reluctant Fundamentalist at the Yard Theatre, London
Chris Walley for The Lieutenant of Inishmore at the Noel Coward Theatre, London
Alex Wilson for The Elephant Man at Bristol Old Vic Theatre

Best Actor In A Musical  Sponsored by Encore Radio
Will Carey for It’s Only Life at the Union Theatre, London
WINNER – Louis Gaunt for Oklahoma! at Grange Park Opera, West Horsley
Toby Miles for Les Misérables at the Queen’s Theatre, London
Simon Oskarsson for Return to the Forbidden Planet at Upstairs at the Gatehouse, London

Best Actress In A Musical Sponsored by R&H Theatricals Europe
Teleri Hughes for Spring Awakening at the Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester
Eleanor Kane for Fun Home at the Young Vic, London
Rebecca Mendoza for Hairspray, on tour
WINNER – Amara Okereke for Les Misérables at the Queen’s Theatre, London

Best Director  Sponsored by Smith & Williamson
Iwan Lewis for One Minute at the Barn Theatre, Cirencester
Alexandra Moxon for Wreck at Nottingham Playhouse
Oscar Pearce for Great Apes at the Arcola Theatre, London
WINNER – Katy Rudd for The Almighty Sometimes at the Royal Exchange, Manchester

Best Designer Sponsored by Robe Lighting
Basia Binkowska for Devil with the Blue Dress at the Bunker Theatre, London
WINNER – Khadija Raza for Hijabi Monologues, Spun, and Mixtape, at the Bush Theatre, London, the Arcola Theatre, London and the Royal Exchange, Manchester
Fin Redshaw for Pieces of String and Love Me Now at the Mercury Theatre, Colchester and the Tristan Bates Theatre, London
Jasmine Swan for HyemThe Passing of the Third Floor BackHanna and The Sleeper at Theatre503, London, the Finborough Theatre, London, the Arcola Theatre, London, and Rialto Theatre, Brighton

Best Composer or Lyricist Sponsored by Trafalgar Entertainment Group
WINNER: Gus Gowland for Pieces of String at the Mercury Theatre, Colchester
Kate Marlais for Abandon at the Lyric Hammersmith, London
Matt Winkworth for The Assassination of Katie Hopkins at Theatr Clwyd, Mold

Best Writer  Sponsored by InterTalent Rights Group
Georgia Christou for Yous Two at Hampstead Theatre, London
Kendall Feaver for The Almighty Sometimes at the Royal Exchange, Manchester
Natasha Gordon for Nine Night at the National Theatre, London
WINNER – Andrew Thompson for In Event of Moone Disaster at Theatre503, London
Joe White for Mayfly at the Orange Tree Theatre, London

Review: Sweet Charity, Nottingham Playhouse

A sparkling lead turn from Rebecca Trehearn, and brilliant choreography from Alistair David, enliven this Sweet Charity at Nottingham Playhouse

“Your game makes very good sense”

So pleased to have managed to squeak into Nottingham Playhouse’s Sweet Charity before it finished, this is what everyone uses their annual leave for, right…?! The second major production of the show in recent months following the Watermill’s strong actor-muso interpretation this summer, it is one which makes a bold move in introducing Alistair David’s choreography to give this 1966 musical a fresh lick of paint.

It’s the only real sense of updating that Bill Buckhurst’s production provides but it is an impactful one, David reimagining almost wholesale and invigorating the almost-too-familiar sounds of Cy Coleman’s classic score. In takis’ podium-based design, it looks a dream and more than justifies new AD Adam Lenson’s decision to reintroduce musicals to the programme here after an absence of more than a decade. Continue reading “Review: Sweet Charity, Nottingham Playhouse”

Review: Flowers for Mrs Harris, Chichester Festival Theatre

Some of the beauty of Flowers for Mrs Harris gets lost at Chichester Festival Theatre but it remains a striking new musical

“It’s a work of art… something not real, made to make you feel”

I had much love for Flowers for Mrs Harris when it premiered in Sheffield a couple of years ago, and so I was delighted to see Daniel Evans deciding to revive it at his new abode over in Chichester. My only cavil came with the placing of this most heartfelt musical in the vast space of the Festival Theatre rather than the intimacy of the Minerva where it might perhaps have been better served.

So much of the beauty of the show (book by Rachel Wagstaff from Paul Gallico’s novel, music & lyrics by Richard Taylor) comes from the fact that it isn’t a bells and whistles epic. It is something far more subtle that truly celebrates the ordinary in extraordinary, as Clare Burt’s charlady Ada Harris dares to dream of owning a Christian Dior dress and in working to achieve that dream, illuminates the lives of those around her.

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Review: God of Carnage, Theatre Royal Bath

Too short a run and too short a play? I just about make it to God of Carnage at the Theatre Royal Bath

“Are we ever interested in anything but ourselves?” 

A criminally short run for Theatre Royal Bath’s production of God of Carnage, especially since it has er’ from Downton and ‘im from The Royle Family and ‘her from Sherlock and *swoon* Nigel Lindsay in it. I was barely able to fit it into the diary but a sweeping trip to the West Country at the weekend meant I got in just before the final show.

Yasmine Reza’s ferociously savage take on middle class mores was seen in the West End a decade ago and appears to have lost none of its bite. As two well-to-do families come together to discuss a playground incident between their children, the thin veneer of respectability as they tiptoe around the delicacy of the situation is soon ripped away and a real ugliness revealed. Continue reading “Review: God of Carnage, Theatre Royal Bath”