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

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”

Review: Frozen, Theatre Royal Drury Lane

Samantha Barks and Stephanie McKeon bring Elsa and Anna magically to life in the show-stopping Frozen, playing now at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane

“There’ll be actual real live people
It’ll be totally strange”

Let’s be honest, you already know whether you’re going to see Frozen or not, there’s nothing any review could say that will change your mind. Such was the enormity of Disney’s 2013 juggernaut of a success, anchored by the ubitiquity of its signature song ‘Let It Go’, the only surprise it that is has taken this long to arrive as a musical.

As it was, we can blame Covid for its delayed opening here (and perhaps also its premature closing on Broadway), but Michael Grandage’s fine production is bracingly fresh in the retooled Theatre Royal Drury Lane, accompanied by Christopher Oram’s breathtaking scenic design, a raft of ‘how-did-they…’ special effects from Jeremy Chernick and of course, some lung-busting songs. Continue reading “Review: Frozen, Theatre Royal Drury Lane”

Book Review: Dear Audience

Just a quickie for this as the book is almost sold out now, but Sophie Ross and Danny Kaan’s coffee-table book Dear Audience is such a beautiful book that I’d encourage you to go and purchase one of the few remaining copies. Striving to photographically celebrate the arts industry from a wide range of performers through producers, MDs and writers, it is a nicely high-quality publication that matches that aim. 

In the interest of fairness, I can’t pick favourites from the many many names featured here, just look at the tags to see the impressive roll-call. What really elevates the book though is the inclusion of heartfelt letters from some of the participants, adding a really personal note to the whole endeavour, reminding us of the personal cost of the pandemic alongside what it has done to the sector as a whole. Track down those last copies now.

News: updates for Frozen in the West End.

With so much uncertainty still blighting the West End, Frozen the Musical has announced that it is taking tickets offsale and postponing its premiere until a new timetable can be confirmed. But to sweeten the pill, they’ve also revealed the final members of their company.

Chris Fung and Kerry Spark will join the already announced cast, led by Samantha Barks (Elsa) and Stephanie McKeon (Anna), as well as Obioma Ugoala (Kristoff), Craig Gallivan (Olaf), Oliver Ormson (Hans), Richard Frame (Weselton), and alternating the role of Sven, Mikayla Jade and Ashley Birchall. Continue reading “News: updates for Frozen in the West End.”

The Curtain Up Show Album of the Year 2016 nominees

Best UK Cast Recording
American Psycho – Original London Cast Recording
Close To You: Bacharach Reimagined – Original London Cast Recording
Funny Girl – Original London Cast Recording
Half A Sixpence – 2016 London Cast Recording
Kinky Boots – Original West End Cast Recording
Mrs Henderson Presents – Original London Cast Recording

Best American Cast Recording
Allegiance – Original Broadway Cast Recording
The Color Purple – New Broadway Cast Recording
Fiddler On The Roof – 2016 Broadway Cast Recording
Lazarus – Original Cast Recording
On Your Feet! – Original Broadway Cast Recording
Waitress – Original Broadway Cast Recording

Best Solo Album / Non Cast Recording
Cheyenne Jackson – Renaissance
Lin-Manuel Miranda – The Hamilton Mixtape
Idina Menzel – idina.
Kristin Chenoweth – The Art of Elegance
Nadim Naaman – Sides
Samantha Barks – Samantha Barks

Album Review: Close To You – Bacharach Reimagined (2016 Original London Cast Recording)

“Don’t make me over…”

Close To You: Bacharach Reimagined brought to my heart. Having opted not to bother with the production at the pricey Menier, the subsequent West End transfer to the Criterion brought more opportunities to see it and as I sat my sceptical posterior down on the seat, I was little prepared for the musical revelation that was to follow and now very happy that it has been preserved in this Original London Cast Recording.

My low expectations have initially had something to do with it but there’s something undeniable about the way in which Kyle Riabko and David Lane Seltzer have devised the show, reinterpreting a vast array of Burt Bacharach’s catalogue into a near-continuous mix which interpolates key themes and melodies throughout its tracklisting, melding its own structure out of its defiantly non-traditional approach. And its one that survives well without the visual poetry that director Steven Hoggett brought to the show. Continue reading “Album Review: Close To You – Bacharach Reimagined (2016 Original London Cast Recording)”

Re-review: Close To You: Bacharach Reimagined, Criterion Theatre

“With a dream in your heart you’re never alone”

From the moment you enter the Criterion Theatre to see the amazing patchworked carpet effect of Christine Jones and Brett Banakis’ set design with its onstage sofas – some even suspended in mid-air – it’s clear to see that there’s something special about Close To You Bacharach Reimagined. Transferred from a successful summer run at the Menier Chocolate Factory (where it had the slightly different title of What’s It All About?), the show now offers its shimmering warmth and endless charm to get us through the darkening autumn nights.

And that patchwork effect is one that mirrors the nature of the show itself. Conceived by Kyle Riabko and David Lane Seltzer, Close To You offers up fresh reinterpretations of Burt Bacharach’s considerable songbook but rather than a straight set of song after song, the material is woven into a rich tapestry of medleys, repeated refrains, lyrical connections and snatches of melodies – an audacious reimagining but one that is hugely effective as it acts as a reminder of the extraordinary body of work Bacharach has composed with lyricist Hal David among others. Continue reading “Re-review: Close To You: Bacharach Reimagined, Criterion Theatre”

Review: Close To You: Bacharach Reimagined, Criterion Theatre

“Just take me inside your arms and hold me tight”

Now that The 39 Steps has finally come to an end after nearly a decade of successful performances, the Criterion Theatre is up for grabs again and the first show to go in there is the Menier Chocolate Factory’s summer hit, the newly retitled Close To You: Bacharach Reimagined. To say I was blown away is no understatement and I couldn’t recommend the show more (even with its peskily introduced interval) – my 4.5* review for Offical Theatre can be read here

Running time: 1 hour 50 minutes (with interval)
Booking until 10th January