To me, the WhatsOnStage.com Awards always seem a less-sophisticated version of the Oliviers, but some might say a more fun version of them. The only theatre awards voted for by the theatre-going public were this year ‘presented’ by One Man, Two Guvnors star Rufus Hound, The Great British Bake Off presenter Mel Giedroyc and the understandably-flustered Terri Paddock, all three of whom seemed to think that the awards were aimed at an adult audience. The guest performers included Tim Minchin, Melanie C, the casts of The Bodyguard and Top Hat, but unfortunately anyone watching on the live stream (most of us) didn’t get to see any of them but instead were treated to unrevealing interviews with the winners, most of which had just walked away from the stage being insulted by the hosts.
Aside from these problems, the WOS Awards are interesting as they reveal what and who is most popular with the voting public. So, when Sheridan Smith and Stephen Fry received the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor awards respectively, it was perhaps no surprise. What was a surprise though was Rupert Everett being voted Best Actor for his role as Oscar Wilde in David Hare’s The Judas Kiss. This is not because he didn’t deserve it, in fact critics have said that this is probably the performance of his career, but he certainly had tough competition. I saw David Haig’s King George III, David Suchet’s James Tyrone and Mark Rylance’s Olivia and they were all some of the best performances I’ve seen in the theatre.
The real winner, once again, is subsidised and regional theatre. The Old Vic’s Hedda Gabler, Menier Chocolate Factory’s Abigail’s Party, Shakespeare’s Globe’s Richard III/ Twelfth Night, National Theatre’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Royal Court’s Constellations and Chichester Festival Theatre’s Sweeney Todd all won major awards tonight and all deservedly so. In particular, Jonathan Kent’s production of Sweeney Todd swept five awards which reflected its critical acclaim last summer and the fan base of Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton.
In terms of omissions, I was surprised Laurie Metcalf didn’t get a mention for her performance in Long Day’s Journey into Night and Simon Russell Beale in the National’s Timon of Athens – both of which I imagine will triumph in the Olivier nominations this March. Furthermore, considering two of the West End’s long runners (Blood Brothers and Chicago) closed last year, it would have been nice to see them celebrated in some way although congratulations go to Les Miserables for winning two awards tonight. And also to Danny Boyle for his amazing Olympics Opening Ceremony although I still don’t quite see why it was legible for one.
Something we did learn tonight was that The Ladykillers might be making an announcement soon, which I suspect will be that it’s returning to the West End, as rumoured last year.
Well, here’s to the next 12 months in the theatre. I’m merely guessing that the 2014 awards will be dominated by The Book of Mormon, Once, Sheridan Smith (once again) and David Walliams, and the Michael Grandage Company.
You can see the full list of winners by clicking here.