Countdown to new Who: Doctor Who Series 9

“Time will tell, it always does”

Phew, the Doctor Who rewatch comes to an end with the most recent series, another that I hadn’t seen any of since it originally aired. And again it was one of highs and lows, a frustrating sense of pick and mix that never settles. So from the astonishing bravura of the (practically) solo performance in Heaven Sent to kid-friendly quirks of the sonic sunglasses and guitar playing, Capaldi took us from the sublime to the silly. Fortunately there was more of the former than the latter (although it is interesting that my memory had it the other way round).

Part of it comes down to knowing in advance how the hybrid arc plays out (disappointingly) and a little perspective makes Clara’s departure(s) a little less galling. This way, one can just enjoy the episodes for what they are, free from the weight of the attempted mythologising. The Doctor raging against the futility of war, the wisdom (or otherwise) of forgiveness, the repercussions of diving in to help others without thinking through the consequences…it is often excellent stuff. It’s also nice to see Who employ its first openly transgender actor (Bethany Black) and a deaf actor playing a deaf character (Sophie Stone). Continue reading “Countdown to new Who: Doctor Who Series 9”

The 2013 Manchester Theatre Awards nominations

Best Actor
David Birrell, Sweeney Todd, Royal Exchange
Kenneth Branagh, Macbeth, Manchester International Festival, St Peter’s Church
Nigel Cooke, To Kill A Mockingbird, Royal Exchange
Paul Webster, Sugar Daddies, Oldham Coliseum
Jack Wilkinson, David Copperfield, Oldham Coliseum

Best Actress
Marianne Benedict, Chicago, Oldham Coliseum
Cush Jumbo, A Doll’s House, Royal Exchange
Gillian Kearney, Educating Rita, Library at The Lowry
Alex Kingston, Macbeth, Manchester International Festival, St Peter’s Church
Maxine Peake, Masque Of Anarchy, Manchester International Festival, Albert Hall
Shannon Tarbet, To Kill A Mockingbird, Royal Exchange Continue reading “The 2013 Manchester Theatre Awards nominations”

Review: Fiddler on the Roof, Mayflower

“If I were a rich man, yubby dibby dibby dibby dibby dibby dibby dum. All day long I’d biddy biddy bum, if I were a wealthy man.”

Oh, to be a fly on the wall when lyricist Sheldon Harnick announced the second line of a song he’d written for Fiddler on the Roof was “yubby dibby dibby dibby dibby dibby dibby dum”. But along with book writer Joseph Stein and composer Jerry Bock, their efforts translated into one of the most successful Broadway productions ever, with this story of Tevye, a milkman in pre-revolutionary Russia, and his three headstrong daughters making life in the village very difficult by challenging the old order. Craig Revel-Horwood employs his tried-and-tested actor-musician model to invigorate new life into the show (one which is new to me, I’ve never even seen the film) which is just undertaking a huge UK tour, starting at Southampton’s Mayflower Theatre (another first for me).

Due to the indisposition of Paul Michael Glaser, we were treated to an understudy performance as Tevye and not even the named understudy Paul Kissaun at that, Eamonn O’Dwyer took on the role and a fine job he did too. Though demonstrably too young for the part, his wry exasperation at the way the world turns and the warm geniality with which he rolls with it made for an assured central presence that kept the show moving with a twinkle-eyed grace. Even with the age mismatch with Karen Mann as his long-suffering wife Golde, there was a palpable chemistry that made their second half duet ‘Do You Love Me?’ a genuinely lovely thing.  Continue reading “Review: Fiddler on the Roof, Mayflower”

fosterIAN awards 2010

 WinnerRunner-upOther nominees
Best Actress in a PlayMichelle Terry, TribesNancy Carroll, After the DanceZoë Wanamaker, All My Sons
Helen McCrory, The Late Middle Classes
Miranda Raison, Anne Boleyn
Sophie Thompson, Clybourne Park
Best Actor in a PlayJohn Heffernan, Love Love LoveBenedict Cumberbatch, After the DanceJacob Casselden, Tribes
David Suchet, All My Sons
Roger Allam, Henry IV Part I + II
Andrew Scott, Design for Living
Best Supporting Actress in a PlayRachael Stirling, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Rose, Kingston)Jemima Rooper, All My SonsJessica Raine, Earthquakes in London
Sylvestra Le Touzel, Les Parents Terribles
Clare Higgins, Hamlet (NT)
Madeleine Potter, Broken Glass
Best Supporting Actor in a PlayRobin Soans, Palace of the EndNigel Lindsay, Broken GlassAdrian Scarborough, After the Dance
Eddie Redmayne, Red
Stephen Campbell Moore, All My Sons
William Gaunt, Henry IV Part I + II
Best Actress in a MusicalTracie Bennett, End of the RainbowEmma Williams, Love StoryCora Bissett, Midsummer
Sheridan Smith, Legally Blonde
Katie Moore, Salad Days
Kirsty Hoiles, Spend! Spend! Spend!
Best Actor in a MusicalSam Harrison, Salad DaysJon-Paul Hevey, Once Upon a Time at the AdelphiJohn Owen-Jones, Les Misérables
Alan Richardson, Iolanthe
Matthew Pidgeon, Midsummer
Dean Charles Chapman, Billy Elliot
Best Supporting Actress in a MusicalHannah Waddingham, Into the WoodsJodie Jacobs, State FairKaren Mann, Spend! Spend! Spend!
Siobhan McCarthy, The Drowsy Chaperone
Jill Halfpenny, Legally Blonde
Twinnie Lee Moore, Flashdance
Best Supporting Actor in a MusicalMichael Xavier, Into the WoodsMatthew James Willis, IolantheTom Parsons, Avenue Q
Michael Howe, The Drowsy Chaperone
Liam Tamne, Departure Lounge
Earl Carpenter, Les Misérables

2010 Best Supporting Actress in a Play & in a Musical


Best Supporting Actress in a Play

Rachael Stirling, A Midsummer Night’s Dream
That voice! That voice! I could listen to Stirling read the telephone directory and it would be a happy day. And it is remarkable that in a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream that saw Dame Judi Dench taking on the role of Titania once again, it was Stirling from whom I could not tear my eyes. She brought such fiery warmth to her Helena, a great clarity to her verse speaking but her best moments for me (ironically) were when she was not speaking but reacting to the Rude Mechanicals’ efforts where she was just gorgeous to watch, almost stealing the show from an extremely funny Pyramus and Thisbe. You can currently catch her in An Ideal Husband, which finishes in February.

Honourable Mention: Jemima Rooper, All My Sons
Playing against such heavyweights as Suchet and Wanamaker both delivering stellar performances, one could have forgiven Rooper and Stephen Campbell Moore for slacking a little bit in their supporting roles in Arthur Miller’s All My Sons. But part of what made this production such a monster success was the strength of their own performances, standing up to these heavyweight talents and delivering their own great turns. Rooper’s face-off with Wanamaker was one of my favourite scenes of the year. Rooper is currently in Me and My Girl in Sheffield, and I’m going in early January!

Jessica Raine, Earthquakes in London
Sylvestra Le Touzel, Les Parents Terribles
Clare Higgins, Hamlet
Madeleine Potter, Broken Glass

7-10
Noma Dumezweni, Romeo & Juliet/The Winter’s Tale; Barbara Marten, Henry IV Part I + II; Jade Williams, Palace of the End/ Henry IV Part I + II; Sian Clifford, The Road To Mecca

 

Best Supporting Actress in a Musical

Hannah Waddingham, Into the Woods

I first lost my heart to Hannah Waddingham in A Little Night Music a couple of years back, but this year she really confirmed her place as one of my most favourite musical theatre actresses with four stellar performances that I was lucky enough to see. Rocking the Menier Chocolate Factory with her own cabaret was massive amounts of fun; appearing at Wilton’s Music Hall as part of a charity gala was lovely (and possibly her best rendition of ‘Send in the Clowns’ yet); her contribution to Anton Stephans’ concert Grateful, singing Jason Robert Brown’s ‘Coming Together’ with Stephans was one of those indescribable moments of bliss, but in Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods, in a cleverly designed production at the Open Air Theatre, she excelled as the Witch. Whether hunched over as the disguised crone or standing statuesquely tall post-transformation, she sang beautifully and precisely, really demonstrating herself to be, alongside co-star Jenna Russell, as one of the best interpreters of Sondheim in a year when we heard so very much of his works. She will evidently spend most of next year in The Wizard of Oz but I hope Lloyd-Webber is coming up with some crackers for her to sing as the Wicked Witch of the West is not a part best known for its songs. Now I just need to her to look at me, just once, as she sings the line ‘there ought to be clowns’ and I would die a happy man!

Honourable Mention: Jodie Jacobs, State Fair
Again, a bit of a recognition of a body of work for the year here as Jacobs managed the not inconsiderable feat of appearing in three different musicals in as many months: Bright Lights Big City, Me & Juliet and the revival of State Fair at the Trafalgar Studios, this latter of which was my favourite of all her performances and one of my highlights of the year. As Emily, the showgirl with a heart and a wise head, she shone in the tiny Studio 2, revelling in the heady flirtations with Karl Clarkson’s dopey farm-boy, dazzling with her own burlesque-inspired routine and hoofing with the best of them in the numerous glorious ensemble numbers. People around the country will be able to see her next year in the touring production of Footloose (I think), but I hope it is not too long before she hits London’s stages again.

Karen Mann, Spend! Spend! Spend!
Siobhan McCarthy, The Drowsy Chaperone
Jill Halfpenny, Legally Blonde The Musical
Twinnie Lee Moore, Flashdance The Musical

7-10
Ally Holmes, Once Upon A Time at the Adelphi; Beverley Rudd, Into the Woods; Jenna Russell, Into the Woods; Aoife Mulholland, Legally Blonde The Musical

Review: Spend Spend Spend! Richmond Theatre


“I was surprised at how much it affected me”

In 1961, Viv Nicholson won the equivalent of the lottery jackpot on the pools with her husband Keith in Castleford. Spend Spend Spend is a musical that tells the story, adapted from Nicholson’s own book, of how it was subsequently all frittered away, how money doesn’t always bring happiness and certainly doesn’t grant immunity from tragedy. The action is narrated from the perspective of the older Viv, reflecting back on her life as she rebuilds her life in South Yorkshire as a hairdresser. Originated at the Watermill, this actor-musician production is directed by Craig Revel Horwood and is reprising a successful UK tour this year.

Steve Brown’s score is solid, cohesive despite picking influences from a range of English music styles; Diego Pitarch’s design is simple, an effective replication of a Yorkshire pub which flexibly turns into a bedroom when needed; Revel Horwood’s choreography is attractive though not particularly adventurous, but this really is a show where the whole really is greater than the sum of its parts. There’s a perfect confluence of each element, there’s not a huge amount of dancing for example which makes the routine to the title number an absolute blast and lending it a greater impact. And with its straight-forward direction and the no-nonsense approach to life that Viv and Keith espoused, the shows rockets through the ups and downs of life with remarkable candour in its portrayal of a flawed but aspirational woman. Continue reading “Review: Spend Spend Spend! Richmond Theatre”