On Monday, we announced the winners of our inaugural #AlsoRecognised Awards, as you know. The first year of these Awards has caught the imagination of the industry, the audience voters and the nominees and winners more than I had hoped to imagine. Your winners are lovely, truly lovely and appreciative. Just look how they’ve embraced – in our no money, no event, no postage style – the notion of the #certificateselfie!
(Those jolly jokesters at Forbidden Broadway have had particular fun with carefully positioned certificates in a series of naked selfies!)
My Mates co-founder Mark Shenton and I have already written – and been interviewed – quite a lot about why we set up the Awards and how they work. In a nutshell, these Awards were about rescuing categories that were being abandoned and/or have been traditionally overlooked by other awards bodies but which, we felt and others seem to agree, deserved to be #AlsoRecognised (clever naming, right?).
Mark and I drew up the shortlists ourselves, with input from our partner-campaigners Mike Dixon and Andrew Keates for Best Original Music and the UK’s first-ever award for Best Musical Direction.
Then, of course, those shortlists were put to the popular vote – and, I think, the public chose well. Well, I would think that, wouldn’t I? Given that I was involved in deciding the shortlists, I’m of the opinion that every single nominee on there is worthy of award recognition. So, hoorah to you all.
Christina Bianco joined fellow Forbidden Broadway co-stars Damian Humbley and Anna-Jane Casey in daring to go bare
Another winners’ list
However, now that the certificates have been doled out, selfies snapped and circulated, I wanted to come clean on a personal level. If I were the Ultimate Judge, who and what would have won in each of the ten categories?
Let’s call these, if you will, the Also Recognised P.S. Paddies. I’ll start with the ones where popular and personal choice are aligned:
Best Solo Performance
Also Recognised Winner: Juliet Stevenson for Happy Days
P.S. Paddie prize: Juliet Stevenson for Happy Days
Why? She was buried in a mound of sand and still achieved one of the most riveting and energetic performances possible. And she’s one of the greatest actors of her generation.
Best Shakespearean Production
Also Recognised Winner: Richard III at Trafalgar Transformed
P.S. Paddie prize: Richard III at Trafalgar Transformed
Why? Jamie Lloyd’s production had killer office supplies and a totally modern take on the hunchbacked monster, that turned young people onto Shakespeare for the first time and made old people like me see the play afresh.
Drunk, with music by Grant Olding and choreography and direction by Drew McOnie, ran at the Bridewell Theatre in 2014
Best Original Music
Also Recognised Winner: Memphis the Musical
P.S. Paddie prize: Memphis the Musical …. very closely followed by Drunk (yep, I’m splitting my vote – just because I can)
Why? A big West End musical with not only an original score, but full of songs that feel like classic hits, totally in keeping with the era of the story – that’s Memphis’ big achievement (in addition to stonking performances and choreography).
On the furthest other end of the scale is Drunk, in which Grant Olding’s music so perfectly complemented Drew McOnie’s choreography and cocktail characterisations. An intoxicating combination (pun very much intended). I can’t wait for their next collaboration, on dance thriller Jekyll & Hyde, at the Old Vic.
London Newcomer of the Year
Also Recognised Winner: Damian Buhagiar for In the Heights
P.S. Paddie prize: All of them
Why? Seriously, I can’t decide. And I don’t want to discourage any one of these mega talents at the start of their careers. I expect and look forward to much greater things from all of them. If I were to inject a personal admiration bias, it would be for playwrights Barney Norris and Chris MacDonald, and again for totally personal reasons around my father’s recent delirium/dementia scare, Norris’ astonishing debut play Visitors.
Best Musical Direction
Also Recognised Winner: Alan Williams for Assassins
P.S. Paddie prize: Elliot Ware for Sunny Afternoon
Why? I thought I knew The Kinks music, but boy was I wrong. And I suspect that’s partly because I’ve never heard it sound so good as it does in this production. Hit after hit after hit joyously reclaimed and delivered with love.
King Charles III poster
Best Show Poster
Also Recognised Winner: Urinetown
P.S. Paddie prize: King Charles III
Why? Prince Charles is censored … and it gets censored by London Underground. An irony that makes me want to break into iambic pentameter.
Best Show Trailer
Also Recognised Winner: Miss Saigon at the Prince Edward
P.S. Paddie prize: Notes from Underground at the Print Room
Why? Though both notionally are in the same category, these are kind of apples and oranges, to be fair. Miss Saigon is an EPK (electronic press kit) that brilliantly captures on film the essence of this big West End blockbuster. Notes from Underground is a preview trailer for a one-man adaptation of Dostoyevsky. But for creepy cinematic brilliance on a fringe budget, it’s one of the best I’ve seen. It definitely made me want to see the show!
Your #BOMChallenge‘s were AWESOME! Keep your eyes peeled this Sunday @ 9:00pm for a new one pic.twitter.com/1NV5yTMAci
— Book of Mormon LDN (@bookofmormonldn) April 24, 2015
Best Twitter Engagement
Also Recognised Winner: Les Miserables – @lesmisofficial
P.S. Paddie prize: The Book of Mormon – @bookofmormonldn (just)
Why? I’m a Twitter addict and think that, increasingly, when used correctly, it is one of the most powerful marketing and audience development tools in a show or venue’s arsenal. Those who don’t know what they’re doing can learn a lot from every account on the shortlist about how to make Twitter work for their shows in a fun and engaging way (not just RTing audienc comments or blasting out ticket offers – no no no no).
However, I’ve tipped @bookofmormonldn because, in addition to doing all of that, the social media powers behind this account also capture so well the tone and humour of The Book of Mormon’s creators (Trey Parker and Matt Stone of South Park renown). Check out the #BOMChallenge and some of their ready-made fill-in-the-blank tweets. Viral marketing genius.
Theatre Event of the Year
Also Recognised Winner: The successful reopening of the Apollo Theatre
P.S. Paddie prize: The inaugural #LoveTheatre Day on Twitter … very closely followed by the opening of the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at the Globe
Why? #LoveTheatre for all the reasons I’ve said above about Twitter’s importance to theatre. Sam Wanamaker Playhouse because it’s given the local candle industry such a boost, and is one of the most magical venues I’ve ever visited. The perfect way to warm your cultural heart on winter evenings.
Congratulations again to all the winners and nominees. For TONS more on the Also Recognised Awards, visit www.mytheatremates/alsorecognised.