The Stage has announced the winners of The Stage Awards, reimagined this year to celebrate theatrical organisations who continued to create great theatre, show innovation, and help ensure theatre survives in response to the Coronavirus pandemic.
“Long live the magnificent six!” Critics have quickly taken up the beat for Pilot Theatre’s beatbox adaptation of Alex Wheatle’s award-winning YA novel Crongton Knights. We’ve rounded up review highlights below. Time to get booking – it’s at Belgrade Theatre this week and then on tour.
What an adventure! As rave reviews start rolling in for the new beatbox-infused adaptation of Alex Wheatle’s award-winning 2016 Young Adults’ novel Crongton Knights, we’re loving the colourful production photos and infectious show trailer. Have a look – and then get booking!
What do you get if you bring together an award-winning YA novel, an inventive beatbox soundtrack, six courageous kids and the producing powerhouse behind 2019’s sell-out production of Noughts and Crosses? Writer and broadcaster Nick Ahad talked to novelist Alex Wheatle ahead of Crongton Knights’ stage premiere.
Can you stick to the beat? Looks like it’s a prerequisite for the cast of the new beatbox-infused adaptation of Alex Wheatle’s award-winning 2016 Young Adults’ novel Crongton Knights. Sneak a peek inside the rehearsal room – and then get booking!
After The Gift this month, Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre hosts another world premiere modern play ahead of a major tour and London transfer: the physical theatre adaptation of Alex Wheatle’s award-winning 2016 Young Adults’ novel Crongton Knights, which features an original beatbox soundscape. Time to get booking!
The production team that ensured the show could go on after part of a West End theatre ceiling collapsed and the revival of much-loved pop magazine Smash Hits are among the nominees for The Stage Awards 2020.
There were wins for Sheffield Theatres’ Life Of Pi at the 2019 UK Theatre Awards, revealed at London’s Guildhall.
So many of the recommendations for shows to see next year focus on the West End. And for sure, I’m excited to catch big ticket numbers like All About Eve, Come From Away and Waitress, but I wanted to cast my eye a little further afield.
Atiha Sen Gupta’s Abi, a 60-minute monologue, performed with enormous zest and attractive energy by Safiyya Ingar, is a response to Mike Leigh’s play Abigail’s Party and looks at what happened to a couple of his peripheral characters.
Lenny Henry is to take on the role of smooth-talking hustler Elmore in August Wilson’s King Hedley II (17 May to 16 June 2019) as part of Nadia Fall’s inaugural season as artistic director of Theatre Royal Stratford East. This marks the first time Wilson’s work will be staged at the venue.
The end-of-year lists of favourite plays and performances should be on their way soon, once the food coma has abated, but to tide you over, here’s my list of 9 of my top moments in a theatre over 2016, the things that first come to mind when someone says ‘what did you enjoy this year’. For reference, here’s my 2015 list and 2014 list.
The ‘arrival’ of the Hope TheatreI’ve been gazumped by The Stage in recognising this Islington fringe theatre for a stellar year but it is no more than Matthew Parker and his team there deserve. Over the course of 2016, intelligent and exciting programming has made the Hope into a must-see venue for me, no mean feat in a market already full of fringe venues and new ones opening every time you look up. From promoting new writing to astutely chosen revivals, scorchingly personal writing to themed seasons culminating in delightfully campy lesbian musicals, this theatre has been on fire all year long and has made me excited to see every single thing they put – and there’s precious few places, large or small, that can say that.
Wizards and magic and owls, oh myI’d have to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child again before deciding officially whether it is a great piece of drama or not, but there’s no doubting that it is a stonking piece of theatre and the atmosphere at the very first shows was something quite amazing to be a part of, even from the back row of the balcony. The romantic sweep of Christine Jones’ set and Steven Hoggett’s movement, John Tiffany’s endlessly imaginative direction and of course, the masterfully jaw-dropping effects from Jamie Harrison. It felt like something I’d never seen before and in the case of Sprocket the Owl, it was something no-one else saw either!
(c) Stephen CummiskeyMiriam Buether turning the world upside downIt’s incredible that in the same month that I saw Harry Potter, a play at the Hampstead Theatre matched it for simply astounding set design. Miriam Buether’s work on Wild was jaw-droppingly good and what I was particularly proud of on a personal level, was how I managed to reference it in plain sight in the review, yet still managing to avoid spoilers.See also: opening in the same month, Bob Crowley’s design for Aladdin was impressive against such stiff competition
The Hired Man brought to orchestral lifeI knew the concert version of The Hired Man at Cadogan Hall would be good, but I wasn’t prepared for just how emotional it would be. Hearing Jenna Russell and John Owen-Jones duetting on ‘No Choir Of Angels’ took me to the edge, being joined by Matthew Seadon-Young for the soaring ‘If I Could’ pushed me right over to leave me quietly sobbing for most of the interval.See also: Glenn Close ripping through ‘As If We Never Said Goodbye’
Discovering Lorraine Hansberry, for myselfBefore March this year, I’d never seen a Lorraine Hansberry play and seeing two in a month – Eclipse’s touring A Raisin in the Sun and the National Theatre’s Les Blancs – absolutely blew me away. Both will rank very highly in my end-of-year list but more than that, I enjoyed finding my own way into loving Hansberry’s work. It’s all very well being told someone is good (even when that someone is my mum, who has ranked Raisin… as one of her favourite plays for a while) but I much prefer forming these opinions for myself and now I can hand-on-heart agree that Hansberry’s was a superb talent.
The glorious rise of Noma DumezweniThere’s something beautiful in seeing karmic justice being served, especially to an actor who you’ve admired for a goodly while. Noma Dumezweni may not have been a household name at the beginning of the year but the trifecta of stepping into the lead role of Linda at a moment’s notice, making her directorial debut in I See You, and then nailing her inspired casting as the adult Hermione in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has seen her profile rise stratospherically. Most impressive of all the serene grace with which she has handled all manner of racist trolling on Twitter.
Finally getting ‘Satisfied’In a most rare example of restraint from myself, I had the Original Cast Recording of Hamilton for something like a year without listening to it, knowing that I would be doing my damnedest to see the show. And sure enough, with several months planning and the help of a generous birthday gift, I got to see the original cast live at the Richard Rodgers Theatre whereupon I experienced the absolute genius and glory of Renée Elise Goldsberry’s ‘Satisfied’ completely unspoiled. Without exaggeration, one of the best moments of musical theatre ever written.See also: getting to relive the sumptuous harmonies of Jessie Mueller, Kimiko Glenn and Keala Settle in ‘A Soft Place To Land’ from Waitress thanks to the wonder of Broadway cast recordings
(c) Pascal VictorIsabelle Huppert being Isabelle HuppertI’d argue that Isabelle Huppert is one of the finest actors in the world and what is particularly exciting about her is that she rarely takes easy, predictable decisions in her choice of collaborators and material. From films such as Elle to La Pianiste, she always provokes and so perhaps it was no surprise that a rare UK theatre appearance would be equally challenging. If anything got me through the nearly 4 hours of Phaedra(s), it was the undeniable electric star quality that she radiates, no matter what she’s doing.See also: getting to see Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart is always a pleasure, even if I had to suffer Pinter for the privilege
Holding the curtain in Derby A personal one here but one that still makes me chuckle. Back in March, I was invited to Derby Theatre to see the double bill of Look Back in Anger and response piece Jinny but the train I was booked on was cancelled. I got on the next one, knowing that time would be extremely tight, but I wasn’t expecting that when I got to the station, the wonderful Heidi from Derby Theatre bundled me into her car along with Mark Lawson, Michael Coveney and some other bloke, drove us to the stage door, where we were rushed into the theatre where they had held the beginning of the performance for our arrival! Not bad for a two-bit blogger 😉
One of Sondheim’s best-loved musicals was brought deliciously to life at Derby Theatre, last night. It has been ably directed by Daniel Buckroyd and his take on it has cemented the story far more favourably in my affections. This has not previously been on my list of favourites.
Mrs Lovett has always been a role I would love to inhabit. I like to think I can pay homage to the great Dame Angela Lansbury within my version.
This is a sharp bit of work by Derby, marking 60 years since John Osborne’s splenetic debut blew the lid – so theatre legend insists – off a complacent postwar anyone-for-tennis world. LOOK BACK IN ANGER was condemned as “squalid” by some, but hailed by Tynan for pinpointing a depressed, anarchic, resentful class hostility of working-class youth sick of wartime deference but not yet liberated by the ‘60s. It’s especially sharp since Derby – where Osborne was working as a stroppy stage manager in a failing marriage – actually turned down the play first time round.