I previously chose my top ten favourite Broadway leading ladies in musicals; this week it’s the turn of the gents. And the same ground rules apply: they’ve all got to be people who are still regularly active on Broadway, or at least were when the theatres shut down nearly a year ago.
Voting has just begun for last year’s Tony Awards. Yes, you read that correctly. And no, there is no date for the actual (or even virtual) ceremony yet. In the topsy-turvy world that Covid-19 has wrought upon us, we’re wrestling with all sorts of improbabilities and impossibilities, but few events epitomise the very strangeness of this time and its repercussions than this weird situation.
Glory palaces of cinema that became theatres — and vice versa — that Mark Shenton longs to visit again.
Theatre may have migrated online for now (though here’s hoping that we’ll be back in the stalls and not just our armchairs or desks soon). Even though online theatre has created a much more level playing field in terms of opportunities for people and productions to be seen, with the smallest theatres like the Barn competing with the biggest like the National for audiences, star casting is STILL a thing.
On Monday Boris Johnson announced his (apparently irreversible) plans to take us out of lockdown forever. He even provided a detailed timetable of dates when each stage should be implemented.
Setting a timetable requires Johnson to be a clairvoyant, predicting the future way of a virus that, to be honest, is only really getting started. Yes, vaccines are being done fast (I got my first dose on Saturday), but lifting the lid on Pandora’s box too quickly — by setting a timetable for reopening — won’t benefit anyone’s mental health, if it simply exacerbates the virus and leads to the necessity to shut down again.
My weekly ShenTens podcast, in which I count down my top ten favourites in a particular category, is inevitably subjective — but few theatrical terrains are as hotly contested as this one: whom I consider to be my favourite Broadway leading ladies.
In a free-for-all age of journalism, the currency of individual theatre reviews matter a lot less than they used to; all a theatre PR wants is a spread of five-star reviews, and they’re easier to summon than ever if you don’t look too closely which publications they come from. The general public won’t notice the difference, so its a bluff that often works.
As a plus-sized critic myself, I’m not limited in the shows I review; so why should an actor be limited in the roles they’re invited to play?
My latest ShenTens is particularly bittersweet, as we can’t actually go to any at the moment: my favourite West End theatres.
It won’t be until the vaccine programme has been fully and successfully rolled out throughout the nation, and any necessary tweaks established for mutant strains, that there may be enough confidence to begin to even think about going indoors again to sit amongst strangers.
Yes, Covid has changed all of our lives — probably forever. At the very least, we will never take the freedoms we used to have – to travel, to meet friends, to socialise in public spaces and gather indoors to watch live performances and other events – ever again.
If, as Monty Python famously urges, we should always look on the bright side of life, then the brighter side of death are obituaries. They’re one of my absolutely favourite forms of journalism, and I read them just as avidly as I read the best critics; and it’s for the same reasons.
Mark Shenton welcomes headlines featuring Stratford East, the National, the British Library and community involvement from Waterloo to Wales.
Far from returning to ‘normal’, the latest rush in trying to re-open theatres – albeit under supposedly Covid-secure conditions – seems to have created a further climate of chronic uncertainty and even more financial losses.
We are now onto the third of my new weekly musical theatre podcast series ShenTens. This week I count down my top ten favourite Sondheim songs — at least my favourites right now.
Radio 2’s Greatest Show could — and should — have been a platform to celebrate more British musicals, especially here, especially now, with the industry floundering so badly. A show of support for our own creators of new musicals would not have gone amiss.
Though I’ve spent most of the last nine months really missing the real theatre that has fuelled my life for the last 40 or so years since I started going compulsively from the age of around 16, I’ve spent more time than I’d have liked in a different kind of theatre — an operating one, when I had three spinal surgeries in the space of 15 days in September. And I’ve become particularly obsessed by another kind of theatre, too: political theatre.
Last week I launched a new podcast series ShenTens here, counting down my top ten favourite musicals, and today the second episode is released.
Some commercial producers, it appears, wanted the old order to be restored and business to proceed as normal, hence the rush to re-open as quickly as it was legally possible to do so back in November after we emerged from the second lockdown.