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 Supporting Actor in a Play + in a Musical

Best Supporting Actor in a Play

Dino Fetscher, The Normal Heart 
A play that was almost too much to bear, a legacy so vital to remember, a removal of a sock seared into my brain. Fetscher’s Felix flirted wonderfully, felt deeply and fought magnificently in a production and performance that I won’t forget anytime soon.

Honourable mention: Pip Carter, The Book of Dust
Rewarding such malevolence onstage almost feels wrong but Carter winds his way around Bonneville’s appalling behaviour with a dangerous almost seductive charisma.

Syrus Lowe, Best of Enemies
Daniel Monks, The Normal Heart
Lucian Msamati, Romeo and Juliet

Luke Norris, The Normal Heart

Best Supporting Actor in a Musical

Ainsley Hall Ricketts, A Chorus Line 
In a show all about the ensemble, it almost feels churlish to pick out individuals but the heartfelt beauty of Paul’s monologue is measured out so powerfully here. It helps that Ricketts is such a sensational dancer too. 

Honourable mention: Robert Lindsay, Anything Goes 
Predictably, Robert Lindsay does what Robert Lindsay always does but as Anything Goes’ Moonface, there’s a perfect marriage of character and persona that teeters just on the right edge of cheesiness.  

Stewart Clarke, Be More Chill
Andy Coxon, She Loves Me
Elliot Levey, Cabaret
Obioma Ugoala, Frozen

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

Review: Cabaret, The Kit Kat Club at the Playhouse Theatre

Eddie Redmayne and Jessie Buckley shimmer and scintillate in this striking reworking of Cabaret, in the immersive surroundings of The Kit Kat Club 

“Gather together to greet the storm”

There’s a lot that has gone into tempting us out from sitting in our room. Director Rebecca Frecknall and designer Tom Scutt have done an awesome job in reconfiguring the Playhouse Theatre into the risqué surroundings of The Kit Kat Club. From sweatily intimate pre-show entertainment (that could possibly benefit from a touch of crowd control) to a transformed auditorium, there’s no doubting the welcome im cabaret, au cabaret, to Cabaret

And for the eye-wincing levels that ticket prices go up to in this first casting period, as well that welcome should be extended. There’s a lot that works supremely well in this production of John Kander, Fred Ebb and Joe Masteroff’s iconic musical. The dazzle of recognisable showtunes is stripped away to focus on the uncompromising weight of a narrative about the untrammelled rise of fascism, ostensibly in 1930s Germany but in reality, in any society at all. Continue reading “Review: Cabaret, The Kit Kat Club at the Playhouse Theatre”

Review: The Theatre Channel – Episode Eight Stephen Schwartz

The Theatre Channel returns with Episode Eight, a special devoted to Stephen Schwartz featuring Alice Fearn, Louise Dearman, Melanie La Barrie and more

“Just when i thought my heart was finally numb”

With impeccable timing, The Theatre Channel has produced a new episode, its eighth in total, which this time focuses on the work of Stephen Schwartz. The show continues to spread its wings geographically, this time heavily featuring the Park Theatre who are co-producers on this episode, but in a number from Working – Alice Fearn’s ‘It’s An Art’ – the cafe is front and centre which feels like a neat nod to its origins at The Theatre Cafe.

Schwartz himself features throughout, able to provide fascinating snippets of info about the material, both old and new. Having recently played the Charing Cross Theatre over the summer, the cast of 1972’s Pippin sing ‘Magic to Do’, but we also get to hear a vibrant duet from 2016’s Magic Flute-inspired Schikaneder, ‘Dream Big’ sung gloriously by Stewart Clarke and Christine Allado. Continue reading “Review: The Theatre Channel – Episode Eight Stephen Schwartz”

Some September casting news

Dana Al Fardan, one of the Middle East’s leading contemporary composers, and West End star Nadim Naaman today announce that their second major stage musical, Rumi: The Musical will get its world premiere as a semi-staged concert at the London Coliseum on November 23rd & 24th 2021.

Rumi, based on a story about the 13th century philosopher and poet Rumi by Evren Sharma, follows Al Fardan and Naaman’s 2018 debut Broken Wings, which premiered in the West End at the Theatre Royal Haymarket before touring the Middle East.

Led by Ramin Karimloo (as Shams Tabrizi) and Nadim Naaman (Rumi), Casey Al-Shaqsy (Kimya), Soophia Foroughi (Kara), the London Coliseum cast will comprise entirely of performers of Middle Eastern, North African and South Asian heritage, and will also feature a 25+ piece orchestra, conducted by Joe Davison.

Tickets will go on sale on Tuesday 14 September via the London Coliseum website Continue reading “Some September casting news”

News: The Theatre Channel announce a Stephen Schwartz spectacular for Episode 8

Adam Blanshay Productions’ acclaimed web series The Theatre Channel returns with a show stopping musical spectacular to honour the legendary composer and lyricist Stephen Schwartz (Wicked; Pippin; Godspell). Under the new direction of Olivier Award nominated choreographer Fabian Aloise (Evita, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre; Wicked, Germany) Schwartz’s modern masterpieces will come alive led by a sensational cast, including leading West End women Alice Fearn (Wicked; Come From Away), Louise Dearman (the only woman to play both Elphaba and Glinda – Wicked; Evita), and Christine Allado (The Prince of Egypt; Hamilton).

Further casting includes the incredible Stewart Clarke (Be More Chill; Fiddler on the Roof), Melanie La Barrie (Wicked; & Juliet), Cedric Neal (Back to the Future; Motown: The Musical) and the cast of the critically acclaimed revival of Pippin at the Charing Cross Theatre, with their fantastic rendition of ‘Magic To Do’. This marks the first time The Theatre Channel is doing a music video in collaboration with a production currently running in the West End, as they continue to evolve their concept. Continue reading “News: The Theatre Channel announce a Stephen Schwartz spectacular for Episode 8”

Review: Be More Chill, Shaftesbury Theatre

Be More Chill is a couple of hours of enjoyable, escapist fun at the Shaftesbury Theatre

“I am not the one who the story’s about”

Through no fault of its own, I just decided that I didn’t need Be More Chill in my life when it opened last year at The Other Palace, put it down to me trying to see less… And since that happened in a way more drastic manner than anyone could have foreseen, I had to say yes when the show announced its reboot for a summer season at the Shaftesbury Theatre.

And I’m so glad I did, as I’d been doing myself out of a really fun show. Joe Tracz’s book borrows heavily from traditions of high school melodramas and social outcasts learning life lessons but it swerves the po-faced sanctimony of the likes of Dear Evan Hansen and dives headlong into the pulpy thrills of the likes of Little Shop of Horrors, resulting in something daftly enjoyable. Continue reading “Review: Be More Chill, Shaftesbury Theatre”

2020 Laurence Olivier Awards nominations

Award season kicks into another gear with the arrival of the nominations for the 2020 Olivier Awards – & Juliet, Fiddler on the Roof and Dear Evan Hansen lead the musicals pack, Death of a Salesman and Rosmersholm the plays

As ever, Laurence giveth and he taketh away and it’s all subjective anyway.

  • I’m really pleased to see the love for Amélie The Musical and The Ocean At The End Of The Lane but a little incredulous that Fairview received no nominations.
  • The weird category shuffle that often happens has landed on ‘Best Entertainment or Comedy Play’ and ‘Best Family Show’ this year, leaving Emilia and Fleabag in a weird place that isn’t ‘Best New Play’ (last year they were divided into ‘Best Entertainment and Family’ and ‘Best New Comedy’.
  • I had zero desire to see Fiddler on the Roof so can’t pass comment there but can’t help wishing the supporting role in a musical nominations weren’t quite so dominated by DEH.
  • & Juliet’s director Luke Sheppard could rightfully feel snubbed, given the wealth of recognition the rest of the production has received.
  • And whither Monica Dolan, Lucian Msamati, Melanie La Barrie, the cast of Three Sisters…(oh wait, they won the more significant award earlier in the year!)

Continue reading “2020 Laurence Olivier Awards nominations”