2021 What’s On Stage Award nominations

The nominations for the 22nd Annual WhatsOnStage Awards have been announced 

Voting is open now, closing on Friday 21 January 2022, with the winners being announced at the awards ceremony on Sunday 27 February 2022. Write-in votes for Sutton Foster should be sent forthwith.

BEST PERFORMER IN A MALE IDENTIFYING ROLE IN A MUSICAL
Roger Bart – Back to the Future the Musical, Manchester Opera House & Adelphi Theatre
Olly Dobson – Back to the Future the Musical, Manchester Opera House & Adelphi Theatre
Arinzé Kene – Get Up, Stand Up! The Bob Marley Musical, Lyric Theatre
Julian Ovenden – South Pacific, Chichester Festival Theatre
Eddie Redmayne – Cabaret, Playhouse Theatre – Kit Kat Club
Ivano Turco – Cinderella, Gillian Lynne Theatre

BEST PERFORMER IN A FEMALE IDENTIFYING ROLE IN A MUSICAL
Aimie Atkinson – Pretty Woman, Piccadilly Theatre & Savoy Theatre
Samantha Barks – Frozen, Theatre Royal Drury Lane
Jessie Buckley – Cabaret, Playhouse Theatre – Kit Kat Club
Carrie Hope Fletcher – Cinderella, Gillian Lynne Theatre
Beverley Knight – The Drifters Girl, Garrick Theatre
Stephanie McKeon – Frozen, Theatre Royal Drury Lane Continue reading “2021 What’s On Stage Award nominations”

Film Review: Quantum of Solace (2008)

There’s not much solace to be found in Quantum of Solace, something of a disappointment following the revolutionary Casino Royale

“Bond, if you could avoid killing every possible lead, it would be deeply appreciated”

After Casino Royale did so much properly reboot the Bond franchise with the arrival of Daniel Craig, it is hard not to feel a little disappointed with its follow-up Quantum of Solace, which is almost a direct sequel, following through on some key plot points as it does. We catch up with Bond deep in the throes of grief and betrayal after the Vesper Lynd of it all, as he winds up in the middle of a plot to steal the water in Bolivia.

Marc Foster’s direction pushes the gritty realism of Craig’s special agent but in the midst of breathlessly edited action sequences, there’s really very little comprehensible story-telling going on which ends making the film rather dull. Mathieu Amalric’s Greene is sadly a washout of a villain but we do see the move to pushing Judi Dench’s M to the fore which allows her and Craig to flesh out the one true relationship that matters now, and which will pay off brilliantly next time around. Continue reading “Film Review: Quantum of Solace (2008)”

Review: Walden, Harold Pinter Theatre

Gemma Arterton and Lydia Wilson both do well but Walden isn’t the strongest new play to hit the West End

“We have to act happy”

First things first – Sonia Friedman’s RE:EMERGE season, re-opening the Harold Pinter Theatre with a programme of three new plays is a brilliant one. Its a visionary take on theatre ownership and one can only hope that it inspires similar boldness elsewhere as the tendency towards the safely tried and tested will surely abound as theatreland looks to find its post-pandemic footing. 

And following on from that, there’s also a strange pleasure in seeing a play that I wasn’t particularly keen on and saying so, a sense of returning to normalcy (as opposed to the contortions pulled when everyone had to pretend Sleepless in Seattle the musical was the brave new hope last summer…). So for me, despite a dreamy cast including Gemma Arterton and Lydia Wilson, Amy Berryman’s Walden wasn’t the one. Continue reading “Review: Walden, Harold Pinter Theatre”

News: Folio 400 website goes live

The First Folio is one of the great wonders of the literary world. Published in 1623, seven years after the death of its author, it was the first printed edition of Shakespeare’s collected plays.  Without this achievement, we would have lost half of his dramatic work. So a new website has been dedicated in gratitude to the 400th birthday of this foundational book on the 8th November 2023, complete with essays, articles and a set of speeches from the plays read by an illustrious cast. Follow the jump to find out who. Continue reading “News: Folio 400 website goes live”

Rehearsal pics of Walden

New West End play Walden is set on 22nd May 2021 at the Harold Pinter Theatre as the first instalment in Sonia Friedman Productions’ new season RE:EMERGE by . The debut play from Amy Berryman, starring Gemma Arterton, Fehinti Balogun and Lydia Wilson, will be directed by Ian Rickson. 

Photos: Johan Persson

News: RE:EMERGE season announced for the Harold Pinter Theatre

Following a year of extraordinary challenges, and as British theatre begins to find ways to re-emerge from the devastating impact of the enforced shutdown, SFP today announces a season of new plays for a new world. The RE:EMERGE season will create a space for vital, new voices and fresh talent in the West End and beyond, working alongside some of the industry’s greatest theatremakers and artists. The extraordinary collection of plays curated by SFP alongside Ian Rickson – who becomes Artistic Director for the season – tackles urgent issues integral to rebuilding our society, including structural inequality, climate change and the economics of truth in an internet age. Supported by Arts Council England, RE:EMERGE will support the theatre-makers of the future, provide vital work for the freelance community and celebrate the live experience as we begin to build back to the full reopening of British Theatre.

The RE:EMERGE season intends to open to socially-distanced audiences from May to help re-open and re-energise our theatres, and will be staged in a Covid safe environment following government advice and adhering to social distancing guidelines; and in line with Society of London Theatre & UK Theatre’s See It Safely campaign. Alongside the season, SFP also intends for the comedy The Comeback to return to the West End following its enforced shutdown in December. Continue reading “News: RE:EMERGE season announced for the Harold Pinter Theatre”

TV Review: Black Narcissus

A quality cast including Gemma Arterton and Dame Diana Rigg can’t save Black Narcissus for me

“Better honey than vinegar”

A funny one this, particularly for the captive audience of the inbuilt lethargy of the Twixmas period. In the absence of Sarah Phelps’ brilliant reinventions of Agatha Christie, Black Narcissus was the BBC’s big drama punt on the festive schedule but I’m not entirely sure if it was the right choice.

Based on the Rumer Godden novel and famously filmed in 1947 by Powell and Pressburger with Deborah Kerr, the story follows a band of Anglican nuns as they try to establish a new mission in the Himalayan mountains. Their chosen base is a former palace with erotic paintings on the bricks, a troubled history seeping from the mortar and a swarthily handsome agent who keeps popping by – Sister Act this ain’t. Continue reading “TV Review: Black Narcissus”

Book review: Time To Act – Simon Annand

Simon Annand’s Time To Act is a beautiful book of photos capturing actors in the minutes before they go on stage

Tackling the constraints of the pandemic in its own way, Simon Annand’s fantastic new book of photos Time To Act has launched a virtual exhibition of some of the photographs which has now been extended to until Christmas. It’s an ingenious way of sharing some of the hundreds of images from the book and should surely whet the appetite for either just buying it now or putting on your list for Santa to collect soon.

Continue reading “Book review: Time To Act – Simon Annand”

TV Review: Unprecedented, Episode 2

The use of real-life couples makes Episode 2 of Unprecedented a very strong entry – superb work from Gemma Arterton, Arthur Darvill and Cecilia Noble among others

“I can be there for you, even from here”

Episode 2 of Unprecedented, Headlong and Century Film’s creative rapid-response to coronavirus definitely managed to take advantage of acting households, as husbands and wives abounded (Arthur Darvill and Inès De Clercq, Gemma Arterton and Rory Keenan, Olivia Williams and Rhashan Stone), offering up a different texture than just the single person shots that dominated the first episode. 

Tim Price’s Romantic Distancing, directed by Jeremy Herrin, was really rather swooningly lovely. Darvill and De Clercq playing a couple who’ve only been together for a couple of months and trying to work out if staying together, whilst isolating apart, is worth it. The switch into Once-style balladry worked beautifully for me and it’s kinda hard not to root for this pair. Continue reading “TV Review: Unprecedented, Episode 2”

News: cast announced for Unprecedented: Theatre from a State of Isolation

Headlong and Century Films have today announced a cast of over 50 UK actors taking part in Unprecedented: Theatre from the State of Isolation. A series of new digital plays written in response to the current Covid-19 Pandemic, Unprecedented will be broadcast across the nation during lockdown as part of BBC Arts’ Culture in Quarantine initiative.

Written by celebrated playwrights and curated by Headlong, Century Films and BBC Arts, Unprecedented explores our rapidly evolving world, responding to how our understanding and experiences of community, education, work, relationships, family, culture, climate and capitalism are evolving on an unprecedented scale. The series will ask how we got here and what the enduring legacy of this historic episode might be. Continue reading “News: cast announced for Unprecedented: Theatre from a State of Isolation”