I have a lot of respect for Mark Shenton and Terri Paddock and am delighted to hear they are launching a new audience-voted, industry awards show of their own. The ‘Also Recognised’ Awards celebrate lesser- known but equally worthy talent in fields overlooked by the Oliviers and other award bodies.
Last week, Terri Paddock won a 15-month legal battle, with Whatsonstage.com for unfair dismissal from the media company she co-founded, and its new American owners, TheaterMania.com, Inc. Just days later, the launch of these new awards (which comprise ten categories, including six that were recently dropped by the WhatsOnStage Awards) is surely set to ruffle some feathers with whatsonstage.com.
The six categories that have been added in after being dropped by the WhatsonStage awards are:
o Best Ensemble Performance
o Best Solo Performance
o Best Shakespearean Production
o Best Original Music
o London Newcomer of the Year
o Theatre Event of the Year
Paddock, who co-founded and, for over 16 years, ran WhatsOnStage.com before her departure in December 2013, explains: I first read about WhatsOnStage dropping these categories on Mark’s blog for The Stage, and was alarmed and saddened by the new owner’s decision. Mark and I agree that the work these categories represent remains vitally important and deserves to be celebrated. We felt we had to take action.
Shenton continued: While we were at it, we also wanted to give recognition to other important disciplines that aren’t covered by conventional theatre awards, not least Musical Direction, without which no musical could exist.
The ‘Also Recognised’ Award for Musical Direction is the first of its kind in the UK. It’s backed by musical director Mike Dixon and director Andrew Keates, who helped draw up the Musical Direction shortlist. Dixon and Keates have waged a high-profile lobbying campaign urging WhatsOnStage and Laurence Olivier awards organisers to grant musical direction creative parity with the work of directors, choreographers, set, lighting and sound designers.
Andrew Keates commented: I’m so pleased to be signed up and associated with such soldiers of theatre, to seek out and recognise those that have been ignored in our industry for too long.
Mike Dixon added: These awards herald a new age, a new voice and perhaps are a new overture to finally achieving creative team parity.
Their attack on Whatsonstage.com over the past months has ignited many Twitter debates about whether Musical Direction should be added in to the whatsonstage awards list. Whatsonstage have stuck to their guns on this matter but now the ‘Also Recognised’ awards are recognising this category. Personally, I think all creative types involved with theatre deserve to be recognised but where do we draw the line? Will we see people lobbying to have Best Backstage Cleaner introduced into the Oliviers next year? I think the organisers of each awards show are well within their rights to recognise as few, or as many categories as they like.
The three other new categories in the first annual Also Recognised Awards put the spotlight on the creativity of digital marketing and advertising in theatre:
o Best Show Poster
o Best Show Trailer
o Best Twitter Engagement
Nominations for the Also Recognised Awards have been drawn up by Shenton and Paddock. Voting for the winners opens today, Monday 16th March 2015, and continues until Friday 16th April 2015. Results will be announced on www.mytheatremates.com.
MyTheatreMates is also inviting suggestions for other new award fields not already covered elsewhere. Recommendations with sufficient merit and industry backing will be introduced in future years.
And the nominees are…
Best Musical Direction
o Tom Deering, Made in Dagenham, Adelphi Theatre
o Simon Lambert, The Return of the Soldier, Jermyn Street Theatre
o Tim Sutton, Memphis, Shaftesbury Theatre
o Freddie Tapner, Girlfriends, Union Theatre
o Alan Williams, Assassins, Menier Chocolate Factory
o Elliott Ware, Sunny Afternoon, Hampstead & Harold Pinter Theatres
Best Original Music
o David Byrne & Fatboy Slim, Here Lies Love, National Theatre, Dorfman o David Bryan & Joe DiPietro, Memphis, Shaftesbury Theatre
o Benj Pasek & Justin Paul, Dogfight, Southwark Playhouse
o Grant Olding, Drunk, Bridewell Theatre
o Charles Miller and Tim Sanders, Return of the Soldier, Jermyn Street Theatre o Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, Dessa Rose, Trafalgar Studios
Best Ensemble Performance
o The Play That Goes Wrong, Duchess Theatre o Toast, Park Theatre
o Drunk, Bridewell Theatre
o Another Country, Trafalgar Studios
o Forbidden Broadway, Menier Chocolate Factory & Vaudeville Theatre Best Solo Performance
Best Solo Performance
o Kevin Bishop, Fully Committed, Menier Chocolate Factory o Benjamin Scheuer, The Lion, St James Studio
o Fiona Shaw, The Testament of Mary, Barbican Theatre
o Kevin Spacey, Clarence Darrow, Old Vic Theatre
o Juliet Stevenson, Happy Days, Young Vic Theatre Best Shakespearean Production
Best Shakespearean Production
o The Comedy of Errors, Shakespeare’s Globe
o Henry IV, Donmar Warehouse
o King Lear, National Theatre, Olivier
o The Merchant of Venice, Almeida Theatre
o Richard III, Trafalgar Transformed, Trafalgar Studios
London Newcomer of the Year
o Damian Buhagiar, In the Heights, Southwark Playhouse
o Laura Jane Matthewson, Dogfight, Southwark Playhouse
o Barney Norris (playwright), Visitors, Arcola & Bush Theatres
o Eva Noblezada, Miss Saigon, Prince Edward Theatre
o Chris Macdonald (playwright), Eye of a Needle, Southwark Playhouse o Patsy Ferran, Blithe Spirit, Gielgud Theatre
Best Twitter Engagement
o @lesmisofficial, Les Miserables, Queen’s Theatre
o @bookofmormonldn, The Book of Mormon, Prince of Wales Theatre
o @youngvictheatre, Young Vic Theatre
o @urinetownUK, Urinetown, St James & Apollo Theatres
o @TrafTransformed, Trafalgar Transformed, Trafalgar Studios
Best Show Poster
o John, DV8, National Theatre, Lyttelton
o King Charles III, Almeida & Wyndham’s Theatres o The Testament of Mary, Barbican Theatre
o Treasure Island, National Theatre, Olivier
o Urinetown, St James & Apollo Theatres
Best Show Trailer
o Miss Saigon, Prince Edward Theatre
o Charlie & the Chocolate Factory (new cast), Theatre Royal Drury Lane o 1984, Headlong Theatre
o Medea, National Theatre, Olivier
o Birdland, Royal Court Theatre
o Notes from Underground, The Print Room
Theatre Event of the Year
o Lindsay Lohan making stage debut in Speed-the-Plow – and completing the run
o Reopening of Apollo Theatre in March, just three months after ceiling partially collapsed o Opening of Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at Shakespeare’s Globe
o Opening of Dorfman Theatre (formerly Cottesloe) as part of NT Futures Project
o Inaugural #LoveTheatre day on Twitter
o The announcement of Richard Bean’s Great Britain within 24 hours of News of the World phone hacking trial conclusion