UPDATE: Black Theatre Awards 2020 to be broadcast on Sky Arts on October 25th

How good it is in Black History Month to tell you that The Black British Theatre Awards will be broadcast live on SkyArts Freeview channel on Sunday October 25th at 9.00pm GMT (UK)

With theatre stalled and the Black Lives Matter debate raging, this is a useful time to remind ourselves of the wealth of great Black British talent which has recently come to the fore.

My personal choices within the nominations include Nadia Latif for Best Direction of the Pulitzer-winning FAIRVIEW (produced by the Young Vic) which carefully dissects white attitudes to race. Sharon D Clarke’s deeply-rooted performance as Linda Loman is Best Female Actor in a Play- nominated for the Young Vic’s production of DEATH OF A SALESMAN.

It’s interesting to see that these two productions are also nominated for BEST PRODUCTION PLAY; here FAIRVIEW is definitely my winner (read my review here). Best Supporting Female Actor in a play in my opinion should definitely go to Cherrelle Skeete for her brilliant performance in Temi Wilkey’s play THE HIGH TABLE co-produced by the Bush Theatre (read my review here). Disability Champion Award nominee Rachel Nwokoro has recently won The Stage’s Debut Award for her performance in LITTLE BABY JESUS at the Orange Tree, Richmond, which she thoroughly deserved (read my review here).

Congratulations to all the nominees and eventual winners!

The full list of nominees are below:

BEST DIRECTOR AWARD FOR A PLAY OR MUSICAL

Clint Dyer, Death of England, National Theatre

Nadia Latif, Fairview, Young Vic Theatre

Ola Ince, Appropriate, Donmar Warehouse

Roy Alexander Weise, ‘Master Harold’… and the boys, National Theatre

BEST PRODUCER AWARD

Adrian Grant, Thriller Live, Lyric Theatre

Nicole Raquel Dennis and Ryan Carter, Turn Up, Cadogan Hall

Tobi Kyeremateng, My White Best Friend (and Other Letters Left Unsaid), Royal Court Theatre

BEST CHOREOGRAPHER AWARD

Kenrick ‘H2O’ Sandy MBE, REDD, Barbican Theatre

Lanre Malaolu, Pass Over, Kiln Theatre

Shelley Maxwell, ‘Master Harold’… and the boys, National Theatre

BEST DANCE PERFORMANCE IN A DANCE PRODUCTION AWARD

Kenrick ‘H2O’ Sandy MBE, REDD, Barbican Theatre 

Marcelino Sambé, The Cellist, Royal Opera House

BEST DANCE PRODUCTION AWARD

Ingoma, Ballet Black, Barbican Theatre

REDD – Boy Blue, Barbican Theatre

Some Like It Hip Hop – ZooNation, Peacock Theatre

BEST USE OF INNOVATION AND TECHNOLOGY

Nicole Raquel Dennis and Ryan Carter, Turn Up, Cadogan Hall

LIGHT AND SOUND RECOGNITION AWARD

Carmen Wright

Simeon Miller

Tony Gayle

COSTUME DESIGN RECOGNITION AWARD

Jodie Simone Howe

Maybelle Laye

Natalie Pryce

BOOK AND LYRICS RECOGNITION AWARD

Arinzé Kene

Roy Williams

Shirley Thompson OBE

MUSICAL DIRECTOR RECOGNITION AWARD

Ian Oakley

Sean Green

Shiloh Coke

CASTING DIRECTOR RECOGNITION AWARD

Isabella Odoffin

BEST MALE ACTOR IN A PLAY

Lucian Msamati, Master Harold’… and the boys, National Theatre 

Paapa Essiedu, Pass Over, Kiln Theatre

Valentine Olukoga, The Fishermen, Trafalgar Studios

BEST FEMALE ACTOR IN A PLAY

Rakie Ayola, On Bear Ridge, Royal Court Theatre

Ronke Adekoluejo, Three Sisters, National Theatre

Sharon D. Clarke MBE, Death of a Salesman, Piccadilly Theatre

BEST SUPPORTING MALE ACTOR IN A PLAY

Arinzé Kene, Death of a Salesman, Young Vic Theatre

Nari Blair-Mangat, Cyrano de Bergerac, Playhouse Theatre 

Reice Weathers. The Upstart Crow, Gielgud Theatre

BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE ACTOR IN A PLAY

Cherrelle Skeete, The High Table, Bush Theatre

Michele Austin, Cyrano de Bergerac, Playhouse Theatre 

Rosalind Eleazar, Uncle Vanya, Harold Pinter Theatre

BEST PRODUCTION PLAY

Death of a Salesman, Piccadilly Theatre

Fairview, Young Vic Theatre

Three Sisters, National Theatre

BEST MALE ACTOR IN A MUSICAL AWARD

Jason Brock, Thriller Live, Lyric Theatre

Jonathan Andrew Hume, Come from Away, Phoenix Theatre 

Noah Thomas, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, Apollo Theatre

BEST FEMALE ACTOR IN A MUSICAL AWARD

Aisha Jawando, TINA – The Tina Turner Musical, Aldwych Theatre 

Maiya Quansah-Breed, Six the Musical, Arts Theatre 

Miriam-Teak Lee, & Juliet, The Shaftesbury Theatre

BEST SUPPORTING MALE ACTOR IN A MUSICAL AWARD

Arun Blair-Mangat, & Juliet, The Shaftesbury Theatre

Nicholas McLean, Wicked, Apollo Victoria Theatre

Tarinn Callender, Hamilton, Victoria Palace Theatre

BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE ACTOR IN A MUSICAL AWARD

Melanie La Barrie, & Juliet, The Shaftesbury Theatre

Nicole Raquel Dennis, Dear Evan Hansen, Noël Coward Theatre 

Shanay Holmes, The Bridges of Madison County, Menier Chocolate Factory

BEST MUSICAL PRODUCTION AWARD

Hamilton, Victoria Palace Theatre

Thriller Live, Lyric Theatre

TINA – The Tina Turner Musical, Aldwych Theatre

LGBTQ+ CHAMPION AWARD

Arun Blair-Mangat

Layton Williams

Rikki Beadle-Blair MBE

DISABILITY CHAMPION AWARD

Chris Fonseca

Rachel Nwokoro

BEST TEACHER OF PERFORMING ARTS AS A SUBJECT AWARD

David Blake, WAC Arts

Dollie Henry, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance 

Kamara Gray, Urdang Academy/Artistry Youth Dance

BEST RECENT GRADUATE AWARD

Danielle Fiamanya, Guildford School of Acting

Stacy Abalogun, Royal Academy of Dramatic Art

Tonye Scott-Obene, Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

Shirley Thompson OBE


Finborough crowned London Pub Theatre of the Year 2020 as Standing Ovation winners announced

The highly-respected Finborough Theatre, currently celebrating its 40th anniversary, has been awarded the title London Pub Theatre of the Year 2020.

In a virtual ceremony (due to prevailing conditions) hosted by London Pub Theatres, the awards celebrate London’s historically thriving fringe pub theatre scene, this year also awarding its Standing Ovation Awards for shows presented in London pub theatres.

Here is a list of the winners and awardees

LONDON PUB THEATRE OF THE YEAR 2020, FINBOROUGH THEATRE, Artistic Director NEIL MCPHERSON

RUNNER-UP FOR LONDON PUB THEATRE OF THE YEAR 2020, WHITE BEAR THEATRE, Artistic Director MICHAEL KINGSBURY

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD to JOHN and KATIE PLEWS for their work UPSTAIRS AT THE GATEHOUSE

COMMENDATION FOR SERVICES TO PUB THEATRES to TESSA HART, REBECCA PRYLE, and VELENZIA SPEARPOINT at the BREAD AND ROSES THEATRE


STANDING OVATION AWARDS 2020– shortlists (winners in red) Comments in brackets after the show titles are evaluations and opinions of London Pub Theatres team only)

BEST PRODUCTION (London based companies)

CHAPLIN BIRTH OF A TRAMP by Ross McGregor at Brockley Jack Theatre

NUCLEAR WAR/BURIED AND GRACELAND at Old Red Lion Theatre

CALL ME FURY by Sasha Wilson (further devised by the company), Produced by Out of The Forest Theatre at The Hope Theatre

AT LAST by James Lewis & Alexander Knott at Lion and Unicorn Theatre

TRYST by Karoline Leach at Chiswick Playhouse

THE HOUSE OF YES by Wendy MacLeod at The Hope Theatre

BEST REDISCOVERY / ADAPTATION

A CHRISTMAS CAROL (Charles Dickens) at Bridge House Theatre

THE WIND OF HEAVEN by Emlyn Williams at Finborough Theatre

MOBY DICK by Herman Melville adapted and directed by Douglas Baker at Brockley Jack Studio Theatre

BEST TRANSFER / SHOW ON TOUR FROM OUTSIDE LONDON

 THE VIOLENCE SERIES TRIPLE BILL by The Other Room Theatre (Cardiff) at Theatre503

A PRAYER FOR WINGS by Sean Mathias, transferred to The King’s Head from Swansea Grand Theatre

FOR OUTSTANDING THEATRICALITY

TRYST by Karoline Leach at Chiswick Playhouse

THE HOUSE OF YES by Wendy MacLeod at The Hope Theatre

BEST INNOVATIVE PLAY

EMPTY IN ANGEL by James Woolf at White Bear Theatre (skewering the gig economy – The set was a fixed-wheel messengers’ bicycle on rollers and two screens to project the GoPro footage provided by real-life courier Giovanni ‘Overkill’ Adebay)

MOBY DICK by Herman Melville adapted by Douglas Baker at Brockley Jack Studio Theatre (environmentalism, and active graphics, presenting a very big book on a very small stage)

CALL ME FURY by Sasha Wilson (further devised by the company), Produced by Out of The Forest Theatre at The Hope Theatre (looks at women and witchcraft through the ages, It’s thought-provoking & has outstanding musicianship)

THE NOISES by Jacqueline Saphra at Old Red Lion Theatre, Presented by Liam McLaughlin productions (audio-described introduction of the set, costume and movements plus other innovation to include the visually impaired – story told from the point of view of a dog)

COMEDY

OOPSY DAISY by Holly McFarlane at Katzpace Theatre

THE INVISIBLE MAN by HG Wells at Jack Studio

HAPPILY EVER POOFTER Created and performed by Rich Watkins at King’s Head Theatre

BEST NEW PLAY RAISING AWARENESS

NETFLIX & CHILL by Tom Stocks at Drayton Arms Theatre (suicide of young men)

EMPTY IN ANGEL (Chris) by James Woolf at White Bear Theatre (skewering the gig economy)

THE BEVIN BOYS (Richard) by Viv Edwards at Pentameters Theatre, Hampstead, 12-21 July 2019 (young men conscripted to go down the mines during the Second World War)

Congratulations to all the nominees and winners!


Enjoy a free online event: Why we should give a sh*t about theatre

QMUL Quorum are holding what promises to be an interesting online event on Thursday 22 October at 8.00pm BST. Dr Kirsty Sedgman, an audience researcher and lecturer at the University of Bristol, will be talking about the value of the arts and the often overlooked value of theatre studies and researchers.

This should prove an engaging statement of the worth of the arts, as well as being useful to all of us who want to support and champion the return of the performances that we love so much.

EVENT WINDOW EXPIRED


Revealed at last – 2020 Tony Awards nominations

In a highly-disrupted year on Broadway as elsewhere, it is good to finally discover the nominations for the 2020 Tony Awards.

Musicals-wise, the Alanis Morissette musical JAGGED LITTLE PILL earned 15 nominations, with at least one nomination in every eligible category (including six for the show’s principal performers). MOULIN ROUGE! followed, earning 14 nominations. TINA;THE TINA TURNER MUSICAL rounds out the nominees in this year’s Best Musical category.

Play-wise, Matthew Lopez’s THE INHERITANCE and Jeremy O. Harris’ SLAVE PLAY earned 11 and 12 nominations, respectively. Also nominated are Bess Wohl’s GRAND HORIZONS, Adam Rapp’s THE SOUND INSIDE, and SEA WALL / A LIFE by Simon Stephens and Nick Payne.

Currently the date for the virtual awards presentation has not been decided, but when it is I shall let you know.

You can find a complete list of the 2020 Tony Award nominations here


Remembering the great Tommy Rall

Tommy Rall with Ann Miller in MGM’s KISS ME, KATE (1953)

“The best all-round dancer we had at MGM was Tommy Rall. He could do anything and do it better than any other dancer.”

Gene Kelly

“above Astaire and Kelly”

Donald O’Connor

It is terribly sad to hear that one of the greatest twentieth century dancers, the sublime Tommy Rall, passed away aged 90 on October 6th.

Ballet, tap, jazz, acrobatics, Rall could do it all. He was also a highly accomplished singer (an operatic tenor), actor, and his good looks were hardly a drawback.

Born in 1929 and growing up in Seattle, he took dance classes from an early age and was soon performing in Seattle theatres. When his family moved to Los Angeles in the early forties, Rall was hired to be a member of the jitterbugging Jivin’ Jacks and Jills, a group created for Universal Studios musicals unit to lighten several of the unit’s movies. Aged just thirteen, you can see him bringing his acrobatics and grace to bear in this excerpt from one of those early musicals.(below). The clip heats up at about 0’40” in.

Rall was very in-demand through the forties , fifties and sixties. His stage work through into the fifties lead to more film work, and he spent many years shuttling between Broadway and Hollywood. Film-wise Rall was most often at MGM, where he was featured in KISS ME,KATE and SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS as well as Gene Kelly’s INVITATION TO THE DANCE. Other film work included Columbia’s MY SISTER EILEEN where he worked alongside co-star/choreographer Bob Fosse.

In his retirement he became a celebrated painter and continued to receive letters from fans right up until his passing.

Why didn’t he become a more recognised star? Perhaps because there was more work we saw on film of him in combination with others rather than solo, therefore perhaps people underrated his abilities and appeal? Personally I have always considered him one of the all-time greats. Elegance combined with confidence and sheer ability fuse to make him a magnetic force on-screen.

On 6th October there came this message from the Tommy Rall Facebook page – From the post by Cynthia Wands: “I’m very sorry to share the news that our dear Tommy Rall, died tonight of congestive heart failure around 5:00pm Pacific Time, in Santa Monica, California. But I want to share with folks here a rather magical story of Tommy’s passing. A hospice nurse was by Tommy’s bedside and found a box that held the cards and letters that had been sent to him in the last few weeks. She spent the afternoon reading each one to him, and when she finished reading the last one – he peacefully stopped breathing and passed away. She was very moved by the experience and wanted to share that story with the family. A private service will be held in the future. In the meantime, we have Tommy’s dancing and singing and beautiful spirit to remember. Thank you for helping to honor that spirit in these memories.”

Thanks to film, we can enjoy and lovingly remember Tommy in his prime. Watch him here “duel-dance” with Bob Fosse – and win! (Notice also the long continuous takes for each sequence of the routine.)

And here’s another Rall triumph from Paramount’s 1955 THE SECOND GREATEST SEX

Tommy Rall – there’ll never be another.