The 2014 Manchester Theatre Awards winners in full

Best actor: Harry McEntire, Billy Liar, Royal Exchange

Best actress: Clare Foster, Duet For One and Separation, Bolton Octagon

Best supporting actor: David Burrell, Journey’s End, Bolton Octagon

Best supporting actress: Gillian Bevan, Hamlet, Royal Exchange

Best actor in a visiting production : Sir Antony Sher, Henry IV, Royal Shakespeare Company at The Lowry

Best actress in a visiting production : Katherine Kingsley, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Manchester Opera House

Best productionAngel Meadow, Anu Productions for HOME (Manchester)

Best visiting production: The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time, National Theatre at The Lowry

The Brynteg Award for Best Musical: Jersey Boys, Palace Theatre

Best opera: Gotterdammerung, Opera North at The Lowry

The Robert Robson award for dance: Le Corsaire, English National Ballet at The Lowry

Best design: Romeo and Juliet, HOME (Manchester)

Best newcomer: Emily Barber, Billy Liar, Royal Exchange

Best new play: An August Bank Holiday Lark, Northern Broadsides at the Oldham Coliseum Theatre

Best studio production: He Had Hairy Hands, The Lowry Studio

Best fringe production: Thick as Thieves

Best studio performance: Sinead Matthews, Pink, Royal Exchange Studio

Best fringe performance: Kaitlin Howard, The Alphabet Girl

Best ensemble: Angel Meadow, Anu Productions for HOME (Manchester)

Best special entertainment: Barry Humphries, Manchester Opera House

Youth Panel Award: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Lowry Young Actors Company

Special achievement award: David Slack

The Stage Door Foundation award for excellence: Monkeywood Theatre

The 2014 Manchester Theatre Awards nominations

Best Actor
Rob Edwards, in Duet For One and Separation, at the Octagon Theatre, Bolton
Michael Hugo, in Around The World In 80 Days, at the Royal Exchange
Harry McEntire, in Billy Liar, at the Royal Exchange
Dan Parr, in Britannia Waves The Rules, at the Royal Exchange
Michael Shelford, in Early One Morning, at the Octagon Theatre, Bolton

Best Actress
Clare Foster, in Duet For One and Separation, at the Octagon Theatre, Bolton
Natalie Grady, in Hobson’s Choice, at the Octagon Theatre, Bolton
Suranne Jones, in Orlando, at the Royal Exchange
Maxine Peake, in Hamlet, at the Royal Exchange
Lauren Samuels, in Love Story, at the Octagon Theatre, Bolton Continue reading “The 2014 Manchester Theatre Awards nominations”

2014 Laurence Olivier Awards nominations

Best New Play 
Chimerica by Lucy Kirkwood – Almeida / Harold Pinter
1984 by George Orwell, adapted by Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan – Almeida
Peter and Alice by John Logan – Noël Coward
The Night Alive by Conor McPherson – Donmar Warehouse

Best New Musical
The Book of Mormon – Prince of Wales
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Theatre Royal, Drury Lane
Once – Phoenix
The Scottsboro Boys – Young Vic

Best Revival 
Ghosts – Almeida / Trafalgar Studios
Othello – National Theatre Olivier
Private Lives – Gielgud
The Amen Corner – National Theatre Olivier Continue reading “2014 Laurence Olivier Awards nominations”

Theater Aid – Do They Know It’s Christmas 2013

It appears to be the year of theatrical covers of Do They Know It’s Christmas? and this one certainly ramps up the star wattage (and seems weirdly specifically designed for RevStan!) with its cast. Put together by current Les Mis stars Anton Zetterholm and Rob Houchen as part of their Room9 fundraising campaign for WaterAid. They’ve had an Advent calendar of videos (which can be viewed here) and today’s clip pulled together an incredible roster of performers from major theatre shows from across Europe and the USA. Watch the video below to see who you can spot, and then please visit their fundraising page to give what you can for this great cause.
 

2014 What’s On Stage Award nominations

BEST ACTRESS IN A PLAY
Helen Mirren – The Audience at the Gielgud 
Anne-Marie Duff – Strange Interlude at the NT Lyttelton 
Hayley Atwell – The Pride at Trafalgar Studios
Suranne Jones – Beautiful Thing at the Arts 
Tanya Moodie – Fences at the Duchess 

BEST ACTOR IN A PLAY
Daniel Radcliffe – The Cripple of Inishmaan at the Noël Coward 
Ben Whishaw – Peter and Alice at the Noël Coward and Mojo at the Harold Pinter 
James McAvoy – Macbeth at Trafalgar Studios 
Lenny Henry – Fences at the Duchess 
Rory Kinnear – Othello at the NT Olivier  Continue reading “2014 What’s On Stage Award nominations”

Review: Eat Pray Laugh!, Palladium

“You’ve aged…but I’ve stayed the same”

Ours was never a household that watched “variety’s gigastar” Dame Edna Everage and to be honest, her schtick always seemed a little old-hat even as a young’un. Still, one has to appreciate the towering achievement of over 50 years in the business and so when a kind invitation to the opening night of Barry Humphries’ Farewell Tour came my way, a trip to the London Palladium was in order. And to further ram home how out of sync I am with this performer, I found myself amazed at the size of the star-studded gala put on and the near-full critical complement that had turned out to see Eat Pray Laugh!

Additionally, I don’t watch much live comedy at all. It’s always a bit too hit and miss for my liking – there’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re the only person not laughing – and being deaf, the acoustic challenges are often too much to surmount – actually, there’s nothing worse than a hall full of people pissing themselves at a joke you didn’t hear clearly. But along with the range of celebrities that turned up this Friday night, who am I to turn up my nose to a free ticket and so I shuffled past Elaine Paige and Maureen Lipman having a gossip, Richard E Grant taking sneaky pics of the set and Vivienne Westwood looking flawless to take my seat in the stalls.


And it was a difficult beginning. The first half sees Humphries play some of his other characters, most notably unreconstructed Aussie Sir Les Patterson, and I found it painful. Whether through residual affection for the performer, the determination to have a good Friday night out or some kind of meta-textual cultural commentary that went over my head, he seemed to go down a storm but the way in which this character gained laughs calls back to a best-forgotten era. Toilet humour may just not be to my taste but I can’t see how anyone could justifiably laugh at calling Asian people ‘slants’. Les’ gay Catholic priest brother makes a thankfully brief appearance too.

A winding monologue from a ghostly character called Sandy Stone changes the tone entirely to the end the first act but the interval is spent donning sparkly specs and frocks as Dame Edna finally arrives atop an elephant, revealing the spiritual awakening at an ashram that has provoked her retirement. And from the first wisecrack about the paupers in the balcony and the dress sense of those in the front rows, she proves impossible to resist. Bantering with the audience reveals a genuine sharpness in off-the-cuff comebacks, better than the set-pieces which includes a weirdly negative view of Stoke Newington, and the union of two unlikely audience members was eye-wateringly cringingly brilliant.

A finale involving trembling gladioli for the entire audience (what must the flower bill be like!) gets us up on our feet and then there’s a gorgeous moment as Humphries himself finally emerges, bidding us a heartfelt goodbye and though he teases us, one does get the feeling this really is goodbye. I found the nod to his long illustrious career here fascinating and I’d’ve loved to have heard more about it but that would have changed the nature of the show entirely. Still, I’m glad to say I have now seen Dame Edna live (and that I’ll never see Les Patterson again) and that my seat wasn’t too close to the front – between Les’ frothing spittle, flowers falling from the gods and Edna’s rapier-sharp wit, it’s a dangerous place to be! 

Running time: 3 hours, though I suppose it is variable from night to night

Booking until 8th January, then tours to Newcastle, Southampton, Norwich, Glasgow, Bristol, Leeds and Manchester

DVD Review: Nicholas Nickleby

“You must bear up against sorrow my dear”

Douglas McGrath’s adaptation of Nicholas Nickleby manages the not-unimpressive feat of condensing Dickens’ weighty novel into a two hour film, and whilst much must have been jettisoned (I’ve never read the book so I couldn’t tell you what) it still hangs together as a cohesive story with much to recommend it. McGrath also directs and remains very much faithful to the spirit of Dickens with a straightforward aesthetic that takes a few artistic liberties but whose heart is very much in the right place.

After the death of Nickleby senior, Nickleby junior is thrust into the role of head of the family but with the dastardly deeds of their unscrupulous Uncle Ralph, Nicholas has to work extremely hard and keep his wits about him in order to protect his friends and family from the misfortune around them. Those misfortunes are many and varied but entertainingly portrayed here as there’s a good deal of humour and pathos mixed in with the grimness. Continue reading “DVD Review: Nicholas Nickleby”