10 top theatrical moments of 2021

As distinct from my favourite shows of the year, this list celebrates the fact that sometimes the good and the not-so-good co-exist right next to each – some of my favourite moments.

For reference, here’s my 2020 list, 2019 list, 2018 list, 2017 list2016 list2015 list and 2014 list.

Helen McCrory, in memoriam
I still don’t really have the words to talk about how sad the passing of Helen McCrory is, such a favourite actor of mine for so long. But what was joyful was hearing the absolute esteem in which seemingly every one of her colleagues held her, a testament to the person as well as the performer.

Being scared, by women
After having declared that scary theatre just didn’t work for me, the Terrifying Women made me eat my words in quite some style with their Halloween special. Continue reading “10 top theatrical moments of 2021”

2021 Best Actor in a Play + in a Musical

Best Actor in a Play

Omari Douglas/Russell Tovey, Constellations
There were occasional moments when the multiple casts of Constellations felt like it might just be an experiment but in the Douglas/Tovey iteration, something magical happened as their chemistry electrified this most familiar of plays, making it sexier, funnier and more heartwrenching than ever before.

Honourable mention: Ben Daniels, The Normal Heart 
A titanic piece of acting in a blisteringly good production, all the more powerful for being on one of our largest stages. And despite the weightiness of the material and the size of that stage, Daniels filled it with the deepest of compassion. 

Charles Edwards, Best of Enemies
Dickon Farmar, Gay Generations
Josh O’Connor, Romeo and Juliet
Jack Sunderland, DJ Bazzer’s Year 6 Disco

Best Actor in a Musical

Eddie Redmayne, Cabaret 
Jessie Buckley rightly got a lot of the attention upon the owning of the Kit Kat Club but I don’t think Redmayne’s reworking of the Emcee is anything to be sniffed at either. A creepily expressive and starkly defined journey towards darkness, such is his charisma that we’re practically skipping along with him.

Honourable mention: Noel Sullivan, The Rhythmics 
Far too few people will have gotten to see Sullivan lead this charming new musical but one has to hope he’ll be at the lycra-clad helm once again when it resurfaces.

Declan Bennett, Carousel
Adam Cooper, Singin’ in the Rain
Scott Mackie, The Off Key
David Thaxton, She Loves Me

fosterIAN awards 2021

 WinnerRunner-upOther nominees
Best Actress in a PlaySophie Melville, MumCush Jumbo, HamletRonkẹ Adékoluẹjo, Lava
Jessie Buckley, Romeo and Juliet
Julie Hesmondhalgh, Still Life
Lesley Sharp, Paradise
Best Actor in a Play
Omari Douglas/Russell Tovey, ConstellationsBen Daniels, The Normal HeartCharles Edwards, Best of Enemies
Dickon Farmar, Gay Generations
Josh O'Connor, Romeo and Juliet
Jack Sunderland, DJ Bazzer’s Year 6 Disco
Best Supporting Actress in a PlayAyesha Dharker, The Book of DustNorah Lopez Holden, HamletLiz Carr, The Normal Heart
Deborah Findlay, Romeo and Juliet
Anastasia Hille, Paradise
Gloria Obianyo, Paradise
Best Supporting Actor in a PlayDino Fetscher, The Normal HeartPip Carter, The Book of DustSyrus Lowe, Best of Enemies
Daniel Monks, The Normal Heart
Lucian Msamati, Romeo and Juliet
Luke Norris, The Normal Heart
Best Actress in a MusicalSutton Foster, Anything GoesLinzi Hateley, Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor DreamcoatSamantha Barks/Stephanie McKeon, Frozen
Jessie Buckley, Cabaret
Carly Mercedes Dyer, A Chorus Line
Alex Young, She Loves Me
Best Actor in a MusicalEddie Redmayne, CabaretNoel Sullivan, The RhythmicsDeclan Bennett, Carousel
Adam Cooper, Singin' in the Rain
Scott Mackie, The Off Key
David Thaxron, She Loves Me
Best Supporting Actress in a Musical
Carly Mercedes Dyer, Anything GoesVictoria Hamilton-Barritt & Rebecca Trehearn, CinderellaEmily Barnett-Salter, A Chorus Line
Kaisa Hammarlund, She Loves Me
Joanna Riding, Carousel
Best Supporting Actor in a MusicalAinsley Hall Ricketts, A Chorus LineRobert Lindsay, Anything GoesStewart Clarke, Be More Chill
Andy Coxon, She Loves Me
Elliot Levey, Cabaret
Obioma Ugoala, Frozen

TV Review: The Long Call (ITV)

Gays. Juliet Stevenson. Anita Dobson. Sarah Gordy. The Long Call is practically tailor-made to my interests, and it’s also a pretty darn good TV show too

“Let’s find out if we’re dealing with a revenge killing”

With its soaringly emotive soundtrack and stunning vistas of the southern English coastline, you’d be forgiven for thinking The Long Call is something of a Broadchurch redux but its pedigree is actually something much more established. Novelist Ann Cleeves has seen two of her detective series be adapted into long-running TV shows – Vera and Shetland, both of which I’ve never seen and will doubtless get around to one day… – and so eyes are definitely on future possibilities here.

And featuring a gay male detective lead, who gets to snog his husband in the first episode no less, it is breaking boundaries (albeit the kind of ones you would have thought were broken a fair while ago). Ben Aldridge plays DI Matthew Venn, a policeman who is naturally being forced to confront his past at the same time as solving a crime which is somehow linked to that past. Raised in an Amish-like sect from whom he is now long estranged, the funeral of his father coincides with the discovery of a body on the beach and investigating the crime means dealing with his upbringing. Continue reading “TV Review: The Long Call (ITV)”

Review: Carousel, Open Air Theatre

Despite some careful thinking and some glorious singing, the Open Air Theatre’s reimagined Carousel can’t stop this problematic musical from being, well, problematic

“Walk on through the wind
Walk on through the rain”

There’s a glorious moment early in the second half of the Open Air Theatre’s production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel when all its constituent concepts and parts coalesce together in perfect harmony. Joanna Riding delivering the haunting strains of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ as the sparseness of Tom Scutt’s design reveals its haunting potential, cleverly contextualising Drew McOnie’s lyrical choreography with the bold brass of Tom Deering’s new orchestrations recasting this classic score with real vibrancy.   

Around it though, the rest of this notoriously tricky musical doesn’t quite stick the landing in the same way, despite the work that director Timothy Sheader and his company have put in to try and address its intrinsic issues. A soft relocation to somewhere in’t’north allows the cast to use a range of British accents but it is a certain truth that no British person has ever said the word clambake, particularly as often as it is said in this show. It may seem like a small point but it is an incongruency that rings out every single time someone says it. Continue reading “Review: Carousel, Open Air Theatre”

Review: The Theatre Channel – Episode Seven Rodgers and Hammerstein

With powerful performances from Michael Xavier, Josefina Gabrielle and more, plus a sneak peek at the forthcoming Carousel, Episode Seven of The Theatre Channel is a marvellous showcase for Rodgers and Hammerstein

“Bachelor dandies, drinkers of brandies
What do I know of those”

Episode Seven of The Theatre Channel is presented in a co-production with Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, as it focus on the songs of Rodgers and Hammerstein allows us get a taster of their forthcoming production of Carousel. And not only that, there’s illustrative contributions throughout from Ted Chapin, former president of The Rodgers and Hammerstein Society, lending a real weight to an already entertaining episode.

For the most part, stagings are fairly straight-forward, taking advantage of the lush greenery of Regent’s Park. And when the songs are this good, there’s not much need to that much more. Josefina Gabrielle oozes class as she sashays through Allegro’s ‘The Gentleman is a Dope’ and new graduates Tavio Wright and Ethlinn Rose put the bandstand to good use in a gorgeous ‘Sixteen Going On Seventeen’, complete with ecstatic dance break. Continue reading “Review: The Theatre Channel – Episode Seven Rodgers and Hammerstein”

News: West End musical castings confirmed

The thought of outdoors theatre was fine earlier this week, not so much right now! For the brave, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre have confirmed full casting for Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel, which plays 31 July – 25 September. Joining the already announced Carly Bawden (Julie Jordan), Declan Bennett (Billy Bigelow), John Pfumojena (Enoch Snow), Joanna Riding (Nettie Fowler) and Natasha May Thomas (Louise Bigelow) are Brendan Charleson (Mr Bascombe), Jo Eaton-Kent (Mrs Mullin), Sam Mackay (Jigger Craigin), Ediz Mahmut (Young Enoch) and Christina Modestou (Carrie Pipperidge).

The ensemble includes: Chanelle AnthonyCraig ArmstrongWilliam AtkinsonShay BarclaySarah BenbelaidMadeline CharlemagneFreya FieldSebastian GoffinAmie HibbertTim HodgesLukas Hunt, Tessa KadlerLindsay McAllisterMatthew McKennaJack MitchellCharlotte RibyLisa Ritchie and Daisy West. Continue reading “News: West End musical castings confirmed”

News: musicals update for May 2021

In a co-production with The Old Vic, Emma Rice (Romantics AnonymousWise Children) and the Wise Children Company bring Percy and Eleonore Adlon’s iconic 1987 film Bagdad Cafe to The Old Vic stage with their signature playful, visual and emotional style. After a long year apart, we invite you to join us for a joyful celebration of togetherness, hope and friendship. 

The cast for Bagdad Cafe has now been revealed and includes Nandi BhebheLe Gateau ChocolatBettrys JonesPatrycja KujawskaNadine LeeSandra MarvinKandaka MooreRenell ShawGareth Snook and Ewan Wardrop. Watch at the theatre: 17 Jul–21 Aug 2021 or watch from home: 25–28 Aug 2021.

Continue reading “News: musicals update for May 2021”

News: Monday Night at the Apollo reveals new dates

Newly revised dates have now been confirmed for Monday Night at the Apollo – a brand-new concert series for 2021, to be performed in front of socially distanced audiences at the Apollo Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue, and simultaneously livestreamed to viewers at home via the theatre discovery platform Thespie, which is dedicated to bringing the best live and recorded theatre to audiences around the world

Originally scheduled for earlier in the year, the concerts have now been rescheduled to reflect the recently announced government roadmap for the lifting of restrictions. Tickets are on sale now for Monday 24 May, Monday 14 June and Monday 5 July. The producers will continue to review each date as it approaches and react according to government guidelines at the time. Continue reading “News: Monday Night at the Apollo reveals new dates”

News: new dates announced for Monday Night at the Apollo

Revised dates have now been confirmed for Monday Night at the Apollo – a brand-new concert series for 2021, to be performed in front of socially distanced audiences at the Apollo Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue, and simultaneously livestreamed to viewers at home via the theatre discovery platform Thespie, which is dedicated to bringing the best live and recorded theatre to audiences around the world

Originally scheduled for January and February, the concerts have been postponed because of the national government restrictions and venue closures. Tickets are on sale now for Monday 12 April, Monday 26 April and Monday 10 May. In light of the current restrictions, the producers will still review each date as it approaches and react accordingly according to government guidelines at the time. Continue reading “News: new dates announced for Monday Night at the Apollo”