Nominees 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Andrew Thompson for In Event of Moone Disaster at Theatre503, London
Joe White for Mayfly at the Orange Tree Theatre, London

Review: The Jungle, Playhouse

Immersive theatre done right in a completely reconfigured Playhouse, The Jungle is thought-provoking beyond belief

“No one wants to stay here”

Following on from an enormously successful run at the Young Vic last year, The Jungle has made the move to the Playhouse Theatre in one of the unlikeliest but most significant West End transfers in recent history. Joe Robertson and Joe Murphy’s play was born out of their experiences in setting up the Good Chance theatre in the Calais refugee camp that gives it its name and accompanied by an extraordinary (re)design of the space by Miriam Buether, becomes a genuinely unforgettable theatrical experience.

Buether’s design recreates the Afghan restaurant that was part of the camp where audiences can sit at the table (which becomes a thrust stage) surrounded by the heady scent of warming spices and baking bread. It’s a useful reminder that even in the midst of a crisis state, life has to continue and food is an enduring common bond. And this anti-doom-and-gloom approach is symptomatic of The Jungle. No tragedy porn here, but rather a portrait of flawed humanity – people doing good, people screwing up, people just trying their damnedest in face of a shameful international emergency. Continue reading “Review: The Jungle, Playhouse”

Review: Symphony, The Vaults

“I do enjoy a skimpy short”

Originally commissioned in 2012 when it played festivals like Latitude, nabokov’s Symphony is a great fit for the ethos of the Vault Festival taking place underneath Waterloo and this sparky revival proves to be one of the highlights of the programme so far. Three short plays by three of the UK’s most exciting playwrights which mix together spoken word and live music, the show treads a blurred line between theatre and gig and pulses with an exciting spirit.

The way that the three writers utilise Ed Gaughan’s music in their stories is quite different but always interesting. Jonesy by Tom Wells is a riff on sporting underdog movies, with an asthmatic student determined to prove himself in his GCSE PC class but ending up in the netball team when rugby turns out to be too rough. Iddon Jones makes a lovable lead and Wells’ quirky sense of humour shines through, not least when Jonesy’s personal theme song finally plays. Continue reading “Review: Symphony, The Vaults”

Review: Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, New Wimbledon

“That was some mighty fine dancing”

Seven young men enter a backwoods Oregon town, kidnap a woman each – with the intention of making them their wives – and escort them back to their mountainside home where a subsequent avalanche traps up there for the winter, leaving family and suitors unable to rescue them. Such is the premise, more or less, of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers but being a classic film musical of the 1950s, it is less a hillbilly horror flick and more of a rollicking romp of lumberjacking lotharios and one which now find itself in a tour of UK theatres. 

Director and choreographer extraordinaire Patti Colombo has worked her considerable magic on the show to make it a stunning visual treat, however there’s no escaping the huge improbabilities and weaknesses of the story. Of course, one shouldn’t be taking such a thing at all seriously, but it does impact on the way the show is delivered, whether the actors try to find the inner soul of a character and play it honestly or just go all out with a knowing smile and plenty of pizzazz. And I’m not too sure that this production really straddles that line all too well.  Continue reading “Review: Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, New Wimbledon”