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Subsidised theatre wins big at theatre critics’ awards

January 15, 2013 

Subsidised theatres The Young Vic and the Tricycle were amongst the winners of the annual Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards.

Chairman Mark Shenton and award winner Simon Russell Beale at the 2012 Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards. Photo: http://www.criticscircle.org.uk

Chairman Mark Shenton and award winner Simon Russell Beale at the 2012 Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards. Photo: http://www.criticscircle.org.uk

The annual awards handed out by theatre critics, the Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards, were announced on Tuesday (15 January 2013) at a ceremony at the Prince of Wales Theatre in London.

Hosted by the Circle’s chairman Mark Shenton, and introduced by comedian Arthur Smith, the awards included big wins for some of London’s key subsidised venues.

The Young Vic in Waterloo scooped three awards with Hattie Morahan winning Best Actress for A Doll’s House, Best Director going to Benedict Andrews for Three Sisters and Miriam Buether taking home Best Designer for Wild Swans.

Husband and wife Adrian Lester and Lolita Chakrabarti took Best Actor and Most Promising Playwright respectively for Red Velvet at the Tricyle Theatre, Lucy Prebble won Best New Play for her National Theatre commission The Effect and the Menier Chocolate Factory scooped Best Musical for Merrily We Roll Along.

Best Shakespearean Performance went to Simon Russell Beale for Timon of Athens at the National and the Special Award kept with the Bard theme by awarding Shakespeare’s Globe a prize for their Globe to Globe initiative.

The Most Promising Newcomer award was taken by Denise Gough for Desire Under the Elms at the Lyric Hammersmith.

LINKS

Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards 2012 – Winners

Book tickets to Merrily We Roll Along at the Menier Chocolate Factory

 

Women Playwrights in the West End

January 24, 2011 

Maggie B Gale’s excellent book West End Women: Women and the London stage 1918 – 1962 reveals the vital place of women playwrights within West End theatre history.

West End WomenDuring a dynamic and often turbulent time for women, from 1918 when some women were granted the vote, to the start of the women’s movement in the early 1960s, women playwrights made an enormous contribution to the life of London theatre. This contribution had been largely ignored until Gale’s book was published in 1996.

Even today, high-profile women playwrights such as Lucy Prebble (Enron) and directors such as Thea Sharrock (After the Dance) are still in the minority within commercial London theatre. And yet recent productions of classic plays by women from the period of the book, including Lillian Hellman’s The Children’s Hour, currently playing at the Comedy Theatre starring Keira Knightley, and Michael Grandage’s Donmar production of Enid Bagnold’s The Chalk Garden, to be aired on Radio 3 this year, demonstrate an ongoing – and increasing – interest in this work.

Gale’s book takes a fascinating look at pioneering playwrights such as Clemence Dane, Gordon Daviot, Dodie Smith, Esther McCracken and Bridget Boland and examines the place of women in society through the 20th Century alongside representations of working women, motherhood and the family, and the lives of women living without men.

The book’s appendix reveals a comprehensive list of staged productions of women playwrights in London, and is posted here with kind permission from Maggie Gale.

TABLE INDEX

Tables of plays by women on the London stage 1917 – 1959:

BOOK SHOP

Amazon: Buy West End Women by Maggie B Gale

Tony Awards tonight

June 13, 2010 

The annual Tony Awards will be announced tonight, Sunday 13 June 2010, at Radio City Music Hall in New York.

Sean Hayes, presenting this year's Tony awards

The star-studded event will be hosted by Sean Hayes, best known as Jack from Will & Grace and currently starring in Promises, Promises on Broadway.

The awards, the most important in the US arts calendar, will feature performances from current Broadway shows including American Idiot, Fela!, Memphis, Million Dollar Quartet, La Cage aux Folles, A Little Night Music and Ragtime. Star presenters will include Katie Holmes, Will & Jada Pinkett Smith, Angela Lansbury, Mark Sanchez, Daniel Radcliffe, Barbara Cook, Stanley Tucci, Idina Menzel and Laura Bell Bundy!

Other appearances and performances will include Glee’s Lea Michele and Matthew Morrison, Paula Abdul, Antonio Banderas, Cate Blanchett, Kristin Chenoweth, Michael Douglas, Scarlett Johansson, Lucy Liu, Helen Mirren, Chris Noth, Bernadette Peters, Raquel Welch and David Hyde Pierce, who will receive a special Tony Award and is slated to appear in London next month in La Bete at the Comedy Theatre.

Shows up for awards this year include a revival of August Wilson’s Fences starring Denzel Washington (10nominations); Broadway musical Fela! (11 nominations) – and which makes its UK premiere at the National Theatre in November; and nods for a number of high-profile Hollywood stars including Christopher Walken (Behanding in Spokane), Liev Schreiber (A View From The Bridge), and Scarlett Johansson (A View from the Bridge).

Glee's Lea Michele rehearsing on Friday for the Tony Awards

Recent Broadway musical The Addams Family starring Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth, failed to find favour with the Tony awards committee, scoring only two nominations – best original score and best supporting actor in a musical for Kevin Chamberlin.

UK creatives or shows have garned 28 nominations this year. The Menier Chocolate Factory in South London will be awaiting news on two of its successful productions that have transferred to Broadway and received 15 Tony nominations:  La Cage Aux Folles opened at the Longacre Theatrein April to enormous critical acclaim. The show features original London star Douglas Hodge and US actor Kelsey Grammer, both of whom have been nominated in the best actor in a musical category. In total the show has picked up 11 nominations, including best revival of a musical, scenic design (Tim Shortall), costume design  (Matthew Wright),  lighting design (Nick Richings), sound design (Jonathan Deans), direction (Terry Johnson), choreography (Lynne Page), orchestrations (Jason Carr) and best supporting actor (Robin De Jesus).

Also A Little Night Music, which started life at the Menier in 2008 before transferring to the Garrick theatre in the West End, opened on Broadway at the Walter Kerr theatre in December 2009. It has picked up 4 nominations, including competing against La Cage in the best musical revival category, and nods for Catherine Zeta-Jones (best actress in a musical), Angela Lansbury (best supporting actress in a musical), and sound design (Dan Moses Schreier and Gareth Owen).

Douglas Hodge and Kelsey Grammer in La Cage Aux Folles

Other nominated UK shows include the Donmar Warehouse’s transfer of Red which enjoys 7 nominations including best play, best actor for Alfred Molina, best supporting actor for Eddie Redmayne, and best scenic design (Christopher Oram), lighting design (Neil Austin), sound design (Adam Cork) and direction (Michael Grandage). The Donmar production of Hamlet sees a nod for Jude Law and best lighting design of a play for Neil Austin. And the Royal Court’s production of Enron, which failed on Broadway but continues to sell well in London is nominated for best original score (music by Adam Cork and lyrics by Lucy Prebble), best supporting actor for Stephen Kunken, best sound design (Adam Cork) and best lighting design (Mark Henderson). Also veteran UK actress Rosemary Harris also received a best supporting nod for The Royal Family and one of the UK’s greatest living playwrights, Alan Ayckbourn, will receive a lifetime achievement award.

US viewers can watch the awards on CBS from 8pm ET. Selected countries are also airing the awards over the next week, although not in the UK. TonyAwards.com will only be featuring live footage of the red carpet arrivals and Creative Arts Awards from 6pm until 8pm ET.

See a list of Tony Award 2010 nominations here

www.tonyawards.com

Enron – Save £11

June 10, 2010 

Save £11 on tickets to see Enron at the Noel Coward Theatre in London

Valid Monday to Wednesday performances and Saturday matinees until the 11th July

Lucy Prebble’s acclaimed new play exploring the infamous Enron corporate scandal.

Based on real life events and using music, movement and video, Enron explores one of the most infamous scandals in financial history, reviewing the tumultuous 1990s and casting a new light on the financial turmoil in which the world finds itself in 2009.

Written by Lucy Prebble, whose debut play The Sugar Syndrome won the George Devine Award and the Critics’ Circle Award for Most Promising Playwright, Enron premiered at the Royal Court directed by Rupert Goold. He has previously directed the award-winning Macbeth and Six Characters In Search Of An Author (both Gielgud theatre). More recently he has directed Pete Postlethwaite in King Lear (Young Vic), Michael Gambon and David Bradley in No Man’s Land (Duke of York’s theatre) and Rowan Atkinson in the revival of Lionel Bart’s musical, Oliver! (Theatre Royal Drury Lane).

The Times ★★★★★

Financial Times ★★★★☆

Time Out ★★★★☆

The Telegraph ★★★★★

The Guardian ★★★★☆

BOOK NOW: Save £11 on tickets to see Enron at the Noel Coward Theatre in London

Valid Monday to Wednesday performances and Saturday matinees until the 11th July

Monday to Friday performances until 11th June

La Cage dominates Tony nominations

May 7, 2010 

The UK’s Menier Chocolate Factory has scored another hit with its production of La Cage Aux Folles – this time on Broadway.

La Cage Aux Folles starring Douglas Hodge and Kelsey Grammer

The small South London arts venue has dominated this year’s Tony Awards nominations – with a total of 15 nods. Its musical productions of Jerry Herman’s La Cage Aux Folles and Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music have both garnered multiple nominations for their Broadway transfers.

La Cage Aux Folles premiered at the Chocolate Factory in 2008 before transferring the Playhouse Theatre in London, and opened at the Longacre Theatre on Broadway last month to enormous critical acclaim.

The show features original London star Douglas Hodge and US actor Kelsey Grammer, both of whom have been nominated in the best actor in a musical category. In total the show has picked up 11 nominations, including best revival of a musical, scenic design (Tim Shortall), costume design  (Matthew Wright),  lighting design (Nick Richings), sound design (Jonathan Deans), direction (Terry Johnson), choreography (Lynne Page), orchestrations (Jason Carr) and best supporting actor (Robin De Jesus).

A Little Night Music, which started life at the Menier in 2008 before transferring to the Garrick theatre in the West End, opened on Broadway at the Walter Kerr theatre in December 2009. It has picked up 4 nominations, including competing against La Cage in the best musical revival category, and nods for Catherine Zeta-Jones (best actress in a musical), Angela Lansbury (best supporting actress in a musical), and sound design (Dan Moses Schreier and Gareth Owen).

Catherine Zeta Jones and Angela Lansbury in A Little Night Music

Overall, it has been a successful year for the UK on Broadway, with a total of 28 nominations going to UK creatives. Other celebrated UK shows include the Donmar Warehouse’s transfer of Red which enjoys 7 nominations including best play, best actor for Alfred Molina, best supporting actor for Eddie Redmayne, and best scenic design (Christopher Oram), lighting design (Neil Austin), sound design (Adam Cork) and direction (Michael Grandage).

The Donmar also saw its production of Hamlet garner a best actor nod for Jude Law and best lighting design of a play for Neil Austin.

The Royal Court’s production of Enron, which transferred to Broadway but was not well received and has closed early at the Broadhurst Theatre, was nominated for best original score (music by Adam Cork and lyrics by Lucy Prebble), best supporting actor for Stephen Kunken, best sound design (Adam Cork) and best lighting design (Mark Henderson). Enron is currently playing to strong audiences in London at the Noel Coward Theatre.

Veteran UK actress Rosemary Harris also received a best supporting nod for The Royal Family and one of the UK’s greatest living playwrights, Alan Ayckbourn, will receive a lifetime achievement award.

Other big hitters nominated this year include a revival of August Wilson’s Fences starring Denzel Washington (10 nominations); Broadway musical Fela! (11 nominations) – and which makes its UK premiere at the National Theatre in November; and nods for a number of high-profile Hollywood stars including Christopher Walken (Behanding in Spokane), Liev Schreiber (A View From The Bridge), and Scarlett Johansson (A View from the Bridge).

Recent Broadway musical The Addams Family starring Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth, failed to find favour with the Tony awards committee, scoring only two nominations – best original score and best supporting actor in a musical for Kevin Chamberlin.

The 64th awards will be presented on 13 July in New York.

See a list of Tony Award 2010 nominations here

Enron – Royal Court Theatre – Review

October 26, 2009 

Review of ENRON at the Royal Court Theatre

The last projected image you see in Lucy Prebble’s timely new play Enron is a large graph showing characteristic peaks and valleys.

‘All our creations are here,’ says the failed company’s CEO. ‘There’s greed, there’s Fear, Joy, Faith, Hope… and the greatest of these is Money.’

‘Money’ is the last word in the play, and it’s also the first item on Prebble’s agenda. Money is what her play is all about – money, the love of it, and the lengths to which the financial world’s movers and shakers will go to acquire it. It’s hardly a shattering observation and it says nothing about greed that hasn’t been said in countless novels, films and plays before.

But apart from its timeliness, what makes Enron so exciting is director Rupert Goold’s and designer Anthony Ward’s bracingly theatrical appoach to the material.

In telling the now familar story of how, in 15 years, Enron, a Texas-based energy company, grew from nothing to become America’s 7th largest company, employing 21,000 people in 40 countries, and how, through creative accounting, debt concealment and fraudulent dealings, they became the architects of the corporate world’s biggest scandal to date, the show’s creative team have made a theatrical killing.

Initially I was worried that their powerhouse production was in danger of overwhelming Prebble’s text through overkill. The first half, in which you gradually get to know the main players, blurred some of the narrative issues through an excess of stage business and visual affects. At times it almost appeared that Goold had lost confidence in the text and was impelled to gussy up the exposition in case the audience grew bored with its boardroom politics.

But as the performances sharpened, and the almost Greek tragedy-like inevitability began to unfurl, the staging melded seamlessly with the text to create a rare kind of stage magic.

Mark Henderson’s lighting, dominated by a series of mobile neon tubes that changed colour to reflect mood, and a backdrop of video images against a moving electric strip of fluctuating share prices, made quite sure that the occasional dead spots in the text passed more or less unnoticed.

Particularly effective was a great setpiece in which Star War-type laser rods were inventively used to create a series of stunning images.

The three executives who featured most prominently in Enron’s collapse in 2001 were Ken Lay, Enron’s chairman (Tim Piggott-Smith), Jeffrey Skilling, the company’s charismatic chief executive (Samuel West), and Andrew Fastow, its chief financial officer (Tom Goodman- Hill) who, (in this version of the story, at any rate) single-handedly was responsible for devising the scandal that ultimately ruined the company as well as the lives of most of its employees. On the distaff side, the play features a woman called Claudia Roe (Amanda Drew) ‘the fourteenth most powerful woman in the world’ who was also Skilling’s occasional sexual bit on the side and an unsuccesful contender for his job.

All deliver strong, convincing performances (as does the rest of the cast), the single most riveting scene being the one in which the ambitious Fastow convinces a worried Skilling that Enron can be saved by the illegal creation of a ‘shadow company’ to support its falling stock.

Not surprisingly, Enron’s run at the Royal Court is completely sold out. The good news is that it’s transferring to the Noel Coward Theatre on 16 January next year. Book now.

CLIVE HIRSCHHORN. Courtesy of This Is London.

Book tickets to Enron at the Noel Coward Theatre in London

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Enron… the musical?

February 20, 2009 

Writer Lucy Prebble

Well not quite “the musical” but it would be fabulous! Ridiculously young and talented playwright Lucy Prebble (creator of the Secret Diary of a Call Girl TV series) is turning the infamous American corporate scandal into a new play, which also promises music, movement and video. This could all go so easily wrong if it wasn’t that man of the moment Rupert Goold (Oliver!), teaming up again with Oliver! designer Anthony Ward, is at the helm. Promising to cast new light on the scandal, the play opens at the Royal Court Theatre in September.

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