2021 Best Actress in a Play + in a Musical

Best Actress in a Play

Sophie Melville, Mum 
There’s something about being completely wrong-footed by a production that is truly exciting. Though Mum had put its cards on the table, the sheer intensity of Melville’s utterly committed performance as a new mother completely swept me up as we raced headlong to that rug-pull. A performance (and a show) worthy of more attention.

Honourable mention: Cush Jumbo, Hamlet 
If another Hamlet wasn’t necessarily what I was most excited for, the return of Jumbo to the UK stage was worth the wait, calling back to her days at the Royal Exchange as well as showing us all how intelligent an actor she is becoming.

Ronkẹ Adékoluẹjo, Lava
Jessie Buckley, Romeo and Juliet
Julie Hesmondhalgh, Still Life
Lesley Sharp, Paradise

Best Actress in a Musical

Sutton Foster, Anything Goes 
And to think we were meant to have Megan Mullally…  No disrespect at all to Karen Walker but the breathless 10 minute song and dance routine that closes the first act is just spectacular and matched with the way Foster commands the stage, as a true Broadway diva, this was one of the highlights of the year.

Honourable mention: Linzi Hateley, Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
The song might say that any dream will do but for me, the return of ‘the’ narrator after 30 years was the tops. A real full circle moment and a truly special, unmatchable afternoon in the theatre.

Samantha Barks/Stephanie McKeon, Frozen
Jessie Buckley, Cabaret
Carly Mercedes Dyer, A Chorus Line
Alex Young, 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 Pact (BBC1)

Julie Hesmondhalgh and Laura Fraser shine in The Pact, an excellent ensemble drama which twists and turns to its final beat

“This is Wales Gwen, not Los Angeles”

Ooh, well this was fun. Julie Hesmondhalgh has slowly but surely developed into the kind of actor I want to watch in everything she does. Her latest project started on BBC1 a couple of weeks ago but such is the way things are done these days, you can stream all six episodes of The Pact on the iPlayer now.

Written by Pete McTighe, it’s a murderous drama set by in a mid-Wales community where everyone knows each other. So much so that it’s best not to commit a major crime as your husband might end up being the one to investigates it. Such is the case for Laura Fraser’s Anna who, along with her best pals Nancy (Hesmondhalgh), Cat (Heledd Gwynn) and Louie (Eiry Thomas), plays a prank on their entitled a-hole of a boss, the ramifications of which unfold in ways which no-one could imagine. Continue reading “TV Review: The Pact (BBC1)”

Review: Still Life: Untold Stories of Nottingham Now

Julie Hesmondhalgh and Frances De La Tour, among others, star in the heartbreakingly excellent Still Life: Untold Stories of Nottingham Now

“So, this is where the magic happens”

At a moment when theatreland is full of news of planned reopenings and hopes for the future, it is good to still be able to look at the cultural contributions that reflect on the recent past. Still Life: Untold Stories of Nottingham Now does just that by offering up 5 short tales of what life in Nottingham during lockdown has been like, stories that speak to the human impact of a global pandemic.

Writers Olu Alakija, Nathan Ellis, Amy Guyler and Emteaz Hussain take us through the full gamut of experiences – from volunteering at food banks to life as a delivery driver, students dealing with disrupted schooling and the strange ballet of getting a COVID safe Uber. And not only that, there’s a special short but spiky sketch from Alan Bennett performed by the luminous Frances De La Tour. Continue reading “Review: Still Life: Untold Stories of Nottingham Now”

TV Review: Broadchurch Series 3

The final chapter of Broadchurch proves to be a little bit underwhelming, despite excellently harrowing work from Julie Hesmondhalgh

“I think you should say sorry to Brian”

Folklore declares that Chris Chibnall always intended Broadchurch to be a trilogy but it kinda feels hard to believe that while watching Series 3. Series 2 had already lost a little of the magic that made Series 1 so essential, diluting the focus on the murder of Danny Latimer and as we move three years on for this new series, that case naturally recedes even further into the backdrop.

Which is all fine and good for a continuing drama but for something billed as the final chapter, it’s an odd choice as it means that the focus is now on a completely separate sexual assault case. And as so many of the supporting characters that helped to build the sterling community feel that marked Broadchurch out are now MIA – we’re in a ‘different’ part of town now – it just feels so separate. Continue reading “TV Review: Broadchurch Series 3”

News: stars come out to support the Jermyn Street Theatre

Stars of stage and screen including Olivia Colman, Helena Bonham Carter, David Suchet, Dame Penelope Keith, Timothy West, Jamael Westman, Tobias Menzies, Aimee Lou Wood, Grace Saif, Dame Penelope Wilton, and Julie Hesmondhalgh have joined forces to perform Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets for Jermyn Street Theatre, a 70-seat studio in London’s West End.

The Sonnet Project launched on the theatre’s social media channels on 21 March, when Hannah Morrish performed Sonnet 1. One sonnet has appeared every day since then, with the cycle due to complete with Sonnet 154 in late August. David Suchet, star of Agatha Christie’s Poirot but also a veteran of numerous Royal Shakespeare Company productions, performed Sonnet 34 on Shakespeare’s birthday. Continue reading “News: stars come out to support the Jermyn Street Theatre”

Lockdown review: Some Enchanted Evening – Hope Mill Theatre

The Hope Mill Theatre crack open their address book to gather a great guest-list for this Rodgers & Hammerstein tribute concert, raising much needed funds

“Night after night, as strange as it seems…”

By rights, the Hope Mill Theatre should have been opening the UK premiere of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella next month but ever pragmatic, its very own William Whelton and Joseph Houston have turned their hand to the theatre’s first online concert. Some Enchanted Evening still pays tribute to the iconic composing duo albeit in a different form, with friends and patrons gathering to take us through this wondrous songbook and an illustrious company bringing the songs to life.

From the incomparable Maria Friedman with a King & I medley to the ever-witty Sophie-Louise Dann relishing Allegro’s ‘The Gentleman is a Dope’, Joel Harper-Jackson (who was very good in Little Women) crooning through ‘If I Loved You’ to Louise Dearman#s shimmering star quality in ‘Edelweiss’, there’s a strong set of performances here. Standout of the night for me though was The Prince of Egypt‘s Simbi Akande, whose gorgeous soprano perfectly soared in Flower Drum Song‘s ‘Love Look Away’. Continue reading “Lockdown review: Some Enchanted Evening – Hope Mill Theatre”

Film Review: Peterloo (2018)

I wanted to like Mike Leigh’s Peterloo, I really did…

“You must be famished coming all the way from Wigan”

I’ve been a big fan of Mike Leigh’s film work, since discovering it in the last decade or so, and loved his last film Mr Turner. So news of his return to period drama, albeit through his idiosyncratic process, in Peterloo was a plus for me. The reality though is an epic that proved a real slog for me, even boring by the end. Continue reading “Film Review: Peterloo (2018)”

TV Review: Doctor Who Series 11

Series 11 of Doctor Who comes to an end and it’s a big yes from me – a hugely successful refresh for this beloved series

“I have to lay down the rules if someone’s new”

From the opening episode, I knew that Series 11 of Doctor Who was going to do it for me. New head writer and executive producer Chris Chibnall’s reset was most obvious in the casting of Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor but it was his other changes – namely a real widening of the pool of writers and a pronounced shift in tone – that really defined the shape of this new Doctor Who.

For all its sci-fi nature, that shape was decidedly human. The tragic death of Sharon D Clarke’s Grace was a defining moment in that opening episode, providing the trigger for this TARDIS crew to come together. And rather beautifully, the series really allowed for a full exploration of everyone’s different grief at her passing, culminating in the brutal power of Ed Hime’s ninth episode It Takes You Away.

And pivoting away from the oft-times densely packed complexity of the show’s mythology, the storytelling pointed less at grand alien threats but rather to the foibles of human nature – the enemy within. The racism of Rosa, written by Malorie Blackman with Chibnall, Vinay Patel’s exploration of the British colonial legacy around Partition in Demons of the Punjab, this was science-fiction as its most powerful, commenting powerfully on contemporary society (and naturally provoking the kind of outrage you’d expect). Continue reading “TV Review: Doctor Who Series 11”

TV Review: Doctor Who Series 11 Episode 1 – The Woman Who Fell to Earth

Jodie Whittaker more than lives up to expectations as Doctor Who in Series 11 Episode 1 – The Woman Who Fell to Earth – plus Bradley Walsh may well make you cry

“Half an hour ago I was a white haired Scotsman”

“Change my dear, and it seems not a moment too soon”. From the mouth of the Sixth Doctor himself, the very nature of Doctor Who (both the programme and the Time Lord) has always been its infinite variety. So it’s about bloody time that we now have the first female in the role – the excellent Jodie Whittaker – as new show-runner Chris Chibnall makes his definitive mark on the BBC serial.

And on the evidence of this first episode (and, let’s face it, to anyone with common sense), the Doctor’s gender is of little consequence. The ability to act as if you have two hearts knows no bounds, who knew, and the hints of Whittaker’s Doctor that were allowed to peek through the regenerative funk suggest we’re in for something of a real treat with an effervescent sense of personality shining through. Continue reading “TV Review: Doctor Who Series 11 Episode 1 – The Woman Who Fell to Earth”