2015 What’s On Stage Award nominations

Best Actor In A Play Sponsored By Radisson Blu Edwardian
David Tennant – Richard II 
Mark Strong – A View From the Bridge 
Richard Armitage – The Crucible 
Tom Bateman – Shakespeare in Love 
Tom Hiddleston – Coriolanus 

Best Actress In A Play
Billie Piper – Great Britain 
Gillian Anderson – A Streetcar Named Desire 
Helen McCrory – Medea 
Imelda Staunton – Good People 
Lucy Briggs-Owen – Shakespeare in Love 

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Review: Evita, Dominion

“The lady’s got potential”

Right, first things first, Marti Pellow’s name is deliberately bigger than Madalena Alberto’s on the poster. Really? He may have the greater name recognition factor, indeed Popped In Souled Out was one of the first cassette albums I ever owned, but is the show called Che? It is not, it is called Evita. And more significantly, in the role of Eva Perón, Alberto delivers an utterly magnificent performance (one which should give Anna-Jane Casey pause for thought in the recently rewritten Forbidden Broadway, star quality indeed…) which far outshadows Pellow’s perfunctory work. Simply put, this is not a West End-standard leading man turn and so demanding higher billing than the show’s true star feels even more inexcusable.

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s show has been touring the country since May 2013 and has now turned up at the Dominion Theatre to finish its run with a seven week stint in the West End. It’s quite a successful transfer too – Matthew Wright’s design holds up well on the vast stage and directors Bob Tomson and Bill Kenwright ensure a sense of grandeur infuses this story of the rise to power of Eva Perón under the auspices of her husband Juan who became the Argentine president. Creatively, the only disappointment comes in Bill Deamer’s choreography which lacks the organic Latin spirit that so elevated the last West End revival (the explosive power of that ‘Buenos Aires’ is one of my all-time favourite theatrical memories).

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DVD Review: Chess in Concert

“Looking back I could have played things some other way”

And so the charity shop bonanza continues: this weekend I was given Chess in Concert which cost 50p from the British Heart Foundation in Reading as it had no box! I’ve never actually seen Chess and so was mildly intrigued by the prospect of it especially as it featured Idina Menzel in the cast but the presence of Josh Groban and Marti Pellow had turned me off from previously engaging and I’m no great fan of Kerry Ellis either to be honest. But I gave the show, a concert version from the Royal Albert Hall in 2008, a try and found myself quite enjoying it despite everything.

For the uninitiated, the music for Chess was written by Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson of ABBA with lyrics by Tim Rice and is based around a love triangle between two players in the Chess World Championship and Florence, a woman who manages one of them but falls in love with the other: the Cold War dramatised through chess and set to music, how else could this story have been told?! On first time viewing though, I have to admit to being quite surprised at how effective it was at telling a rather intimate story whilst simultaneously capturing much of the paranoia and ill-feeling that characterised this ideological conflict. Continue reading “DVD Review: Chess in Concert”