Roll out the red carpet and put the champagne on ice: nominations are open for the WhatsOnStage Awards 2013! James Hodgson looks back over the year and gives his opinions on the best of 2012.
We’ve had an incredible year at Everything Theatre. Some of the shows I’ve seen have blown me away; collectively we’ve been privileged enough to see nearly 180 productions in the last year, and I’m sure that some of them will stick in our memories forever.
These nominations are my personal opinions based on productions that I have seen myself (sadly I haven’t seen all 180 productions that everything theatre has reviewed!). I haven’t nominated for every category either, only the categories where I genuinely believe a nomination is deserved.
Ultimately, the process of my deciding led me back to the question of whether or not it’s fair to compare West End productions with smaller Off-West End ones. My nominations are often for the larger shows; this isn’t really surprising because they have the money and the experience to attract the top performers and creative teams. However, some of the Off-West End shows I’ve seen have been on a par with the larger ones in terms of their overall enjoyment factor, and ultimately that is what matters to us. It interested me to look back over all our reviews to see how the split of five star productions has worked out: eight for big shows, seven for smaller ones. I think that is hugely encouraging for smaller companies; you don’t have to have hundreds of thousands of pounds to put on an outrageously good show.
Tyne Daly was like a tour-de-force powerhouse which saved an otherwise dreary production. Celia Imrie gave a more subtle performance, but was just a complete pleasure to watch.
BEST ACTOR IN A PLAY
Mark Rylance for Olivia in Twelfth Night, Shakespeare’s Globe & Apollo Theatre
Luke Treadaway for Christopher in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, National Theatre
I really can’t separate these two. Mark Rylance is basically the greatest living stage actor in the world so I expect ridiculously good performances from him. However, Luke Treadaway’s performance was just unbelievably good, especially given the complex nature of the character.
Difficult to compare these two performances, because they were totally different. Cillian Murphy was outrageously impressive in holding the whole of the Lyttleton auditorium’s attention, but I was just as engaged by the smaller-scale but equally as notable performance by Tim Dorsett.
BEST ENSEMBLE PERFORMANCE
Jack the Ripper’s London, London Bridge Tunnels
This one was a no-brainer for me. One of my favourite theatre experiences of the year because of its uniqueness. No stand-out performances; this was a team effort from start to finish.
BEST TAKEOVER IN A ROLE
Owain Arthur for One Man, Two Guvnors, Theatre Royal Haymarket
Nobody had even heard of Owain Arthur before this year, yet he took over a role previously held by James Corden and nailed it. Another stand-out nomination for me.
Again, two totally different scales here. The script was particularly impressive in This House, but An Incident at the Border was a great all-round production with an observant and sharply written script. Interestingly, both have very strong ties to the Finborough; James Graham used to be a writer-in-residence there.
Noises Off is one of my all-time favourite plays, so I was delighted to see it revived so brilliantly. However I’d never even heard of Timon of Athens before the National’s revival, so this came out of nowhere to become of my top productions of 2012.
With the cast that they have it’s hardly surprising that Twelfth Night is on this list: Stephen Fry, Mark Rylance, Samuel Barnett… Ridiculous. However I’m chucking Othello in Hip-Hop in here as well because it was totally different to anything I’ve ever seen before; it was enormous fun.
This was the hardest category for me to whittle down to two nominations because I see so much Off-West End theatre. Outward Bound was an eye-opener for me because it was my first trip to the Finborough, so the sheer quality of the production just blew me away. However Scooter Thomas was bare-bones brilliance from a young company. There’s too many to mention really though.
BEST WEST END SHOW
One Man, Two Guvnors, Theatre Royal Haymarket
War Horse, New London Theatre
For me, these are the best two shows in the West End at the moment. OM2G is the funniest play I’ve ever seen, and it came at a time when the West End really needed a good comedy. War Horse is probably one of the best productions of all time in my opinion. Both of these outclass the musical which I sadly predict will win this award, but never mind!
There aren’t enough superlatives for Danny Boyle’s Opening Ceremony so I’m not even going to bother; suffice it to say I have never felt so proud to be British. Globe to Globe was the most brilliant idea enacted by any of London’s theatres – all of Shakespeare’s plays, each one in a different language? Utterly inspired. Last but not least Jack the Ripper’s London was unique, innovative and huge fun – one of my absolute stand-out theatre events of the year.
So there you have it: my nominations for the WhatsOnStage Awards 2013 – and I really have nominated them. Best of luck to all!
Please leave us with some of your opinions on who you will be nominating in the comments section below. Nominations for The WhatsOnStage Awards 2013 are open to members of the public until 30th November 2012. Visit their website for more details: http://awards.whatsonstage.com/