“Life is molto bene when your pesto’s mixed with penne”
Coming in as one of my favourite shows of 2010, and in the top 2 musicals I saw all year long, it was no surprise that a return visit to Love Story was booked in order to introduce someone new to the wonders of this show. You can read my (something of a rave) review from my previous visit here: I don’t really have much more to add to it to be honest, other than I really do believe this to be one of the strongest and most beautiful new British musicals of recent years.
I cried more this time round, knowing what to expect and when to expect it usually does that to me, but having seen it before meant that I had much more sympathy for Michael Xavier’s Olly throughout the show. He is a rather bullish and brash character at first glance but Xavier brings much more depth to the character which for me, simply heightened the emotion in the moments when he cracks and sure enough, every single time his handsome face crumpled, my eyes welled up. Emma Williams delivered another sensational performance, even dealing with wayward pasta most professionally, singing all the while. Continue reading “Re-review: Love Story, Duchess”
Best Actress in a Play
Michelle Terry, Tribes
Michelle Terry and Nancy Carroll have swapped between these two places so many times since I started this decision-making but ultimately Terry edged by virtue of her performances elsewhere this year. Bringing an intelligently thought-through depth to a paper-thin character in London Assurance and flexing the acting muscles in Caryl Churchill’s Light Shining in Buckinghamshire were both great turns, but it was in Nina Raine’s Tribes that she just blew me away with a richly nuanced and deeply emotional interpretation of her character and revealing herself to be a beautifully natural signer (not as easy as it sounds). The poise with which she tolerated the madness of the dinner table at her boyfriend’s table and the grace with which she defended her choices and explained the frustrations of someone going deaf and all that they lose just broke my heart with its simple elegance and touched me very deeply. Not sure what Terry’s next move is, but I’ll be sure to keep you posted.
Honourable Mention – Nancy Carroll, After the Dance
As mentioned, this was my most closely contested category this year between these two, but Carroll’s performance in After the Dance really was a thing of wonder. The way in which she sketched Joan’s journey through the complex feelings for husband David was simply heartbreaking and the depth of emotion she evoked with her back to the audience at the end of Act II was just sensational.
Zoë Wanamaker, All My Sons
Helen McCrory, The Late Middle Classes
Miranda Raison, Anne Boleyn
Sophie Thompson, Clybourne Park
Daniela Denby-Ashe, Love Love Love; Lucy Cohu, Broken Glass; Linda Bassett, The Road To Mecca; Kim Cattrall, Private Lives/Antony & Cleopatra
Best Actress in a Musical
Tracie Bennett, End of the Rainbow
Quite simply one of the most jaw-dropping experiences on stage for quite some time. Bennett doesn’t so much perform the role of Judy Garland as inhabit her in End of the Rainbow, unafraid to show the depths of her addiction and the tragic effect it had on her stage act, as well as the stellar performances that brought her such renown. Bennett plays both the acting and singing scenes with such conviction that the weaknesses in the play are just overcome by the force of her performance. And what better ending than a practically unanimous and instantaneous standing ovation which was received with such humility that one just wanted to go up there and hug her. Just outstanding, and still playing at the Trafalgar Studios so make a trip if you haven’t planned one already.
Honourable Mention: Emma Williams, Love Story
Never having had the pleasure of seeing Emma Williams perform on stage, I can’t think of a better introduction than the gorgeous Love Story in which she captures hearts as the ballsy no-nonsense heroine Jenny whose untimely end brings forth both tears and well deserved standing ovations. She has such a lovely voice that is so well suited to Howard Goodall’s music that from the moment I left the Duchess theatre I have been eagerly anticipating the cast recording. You can still catch Williams in Love Story now.
Cora Bissett, Midsummer [a play with songs]
Sheridan Smith, Legally Blonde The Musical
Katie Moore, Salad Days
Kirsty Hoiles, Spend! Spend! Spend!
Cassidy Janson, Avenue Q; Rebecca Hutchinson, Once Upon A Time at the Adelphi; Lisa Baird, Just So; Victoria Hamilton-Barritt, Flashdance The Musical
“What can you say…”
Where do I begin, to tell the story of how great a love can be? Well, by heartily recommending that you go and see Love Story at the Duchess Theatre. The musical version of the well-known film (and novel) by Erich Segal which premiered at the Minerva in Chichester earlier this year, it has transferred into London with the help of Michael Ball who has joined the creative team as an above-the-title producer. The show sees a welcome return to the West End for Howard Goodall as the composer and co-lyricist with Stephen Clark, who wrote the book. Things started off well as we entered the Duchess to see Stephen Ridley’s onstage band of a piano, guitar and string quintet, instantly indicating that this is going to be a classier affair with Peter McKintosh’s simple white column-based design adding to the dignified air.
It is the story of a rich blue-blood Harvard law graduate, Oliver Barrett IV and a less-well-off piano-playing Italian-American Radcliffe College woman, Jenny Cavilleri, who fall passionately for each other and are swiftly married despite their differences and opposition from their parents. We follow their young love as they start to build a life together, but fate has other plans… Directed by Rachel Kavanaugh with a remarkably restrained emotion, the focus really is on the love story rather than dwelling on the tragic ending, Jenny is only diagnosed with about 20 minutes to go as Stephen Clark’s heart-warming and tender book navigates sentiment without resorting to too much of the saccharine. Continue reading “Review: Love Story, Duchess”
Best New Play
Black Watch by Gregory Burke – Barbican
August: Osage County by Tracy Letts – National Theatre Lyttelton
That Face by Polly Stenham – Duke of York’s
The Pitmen Painters by Lee Hall – National Theatre Cottesloe
Best New Musical
Jersey Boys – Prince Edward
Zorro – Garrick
The Histories – Roundhouse
The Chalk Garden – Donmar Warehouse
The Norman Conquests – Old Vic Continue reading “2009 Laurence Olivier Awards nominations”
Continuing my obsession with all things Avenue Q or at least vaguely connected, we trotted off to the Lyric Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue to Christmas in New York, a show of Christmas music ranging from traditional carols to thoroughly modern musical theatre numbers. The Q connection comes from Julie Atherton who alongside Paul Spicer is a founder member of Notes from New York, the company behind this annual show whose remit is to promote contemporary musical theatre composers.
It was a highly enjoyable evening in which the talent onstage was clear with a range of West End stars, singing a mix of solos, duets and group numbers accompanied by a large choir giving huge glorious voice to several of the songs. Spicer and Atherton fronted up the ensemble but they far from hogged the limelight as many others, like Emma Williams, Melanie La Barrie and Oliver Tompsett, got their turn too.
The only downside was our unfamiliarity with much of the material: it was akin to going to see a gig by someone you really like who just sings songs from a new album that you don’t know. Amongst the traditional carols and the Sondheim, Berlin and Rodgers number were intertwined with new composers like Michael Bruce, Charles Miller, Grant Olding and Ann Hampton Callaway whose material kind of passed me by a little without knowing more about it. There must have been over 30 songs performed in the big theatre and I would have preferred the stronger connection that might have developed in a more intimate venue.
The musical version of Twas the Night Before Christmas was great fun though and it was a highly entertaining night altogether. A great demonstration of fresh new talent working on the stage and a nice alternative to the endlessly repeated usual Christmas tunes.