Sunday 10th February marks the 85th annual Academy Awards, in which the recently released film adaption of hit musical Les Miserables is nominated in seven categories, including nods for Best Picture and for two of its stars: Hugh Jackman (Actor in a Leading Role) and Anne Hathaway (Actress in a Supporting Role). If Hathaway’s performance as the down-on-her-luck Fantine wasn’t enough to secure her the award, the parody video by Emma Fitzpatrick currently circulating on YouTube should do the trick – if you haven’t seen it, look it up. It’s hilarious.
While everyone is buzzing about Les Miserables’ chances this Sunday, it’s not the only musical to be crossing its fingers for a win in February. This month not only plays host to the Academy Awards, but also the Whatsonstage.com Awards. Originally known as the Theatregoers Choice Awards, it began with an online vote in 2001 and quickly branched out to become a renowned and respected annual awards event which now includes a live concert and ceremony with performances from some of the biggest stars and shows in the West End, held last year at the 1,100-seat Prince of Wales Theatre.
A record-breaking 50,000 votes were cast in the 2013 awards, with a whole range of categories for casts and creatives in both West End and fringe theatrical productions. The voice of the theatre-going public will speak out this Sunday at the Palace Theatre, where the Awards are to be held this year. An impressive list of performances has already been announced for the night, the latest being the cast of popular new screen-to-stage musical The Bodyguard, which has been nominated in a total of six categories. Nominees Heather Headley (Best Actress in a Musical), Lloyd Owen (Best Actor in a Musical) and Debbie Kurup (Best Supporting Actress in a Musical) have all confirmed their attendance.
Like I said however, The Bodyguard is just one of the highlights of the 2013 Awards, which is hosted this year by star of The Great British Bake-off Mel Giedroyc (who previously co-hosted the 2010 Awards) and comedian Rufus Hound, who makes his West End Debut later this month when he takes over from Owain Arthur to play Francis Henshall in One Man, Two Guvnors. The ‘unmissable night with lots of glitz, glamour and fun’ has a star-studded line-up, with performances from the casts of nominated shows, such as Spamalot, Taboo and Top Hat. The concert will also feature stars of some of the biggest and best shows around, with performances from Tim Minchin and Melanie C (Jesus Christ Superstar), Louise Dearman and Gina Beck (Wicked), and Beverly Rudd and Suzie Chard (Soho Cinders). 9 to 5 star Natalie Casey is also scheduled to perform, as is other top West End names such as Alice Fearn (Shrek, Into The Woods), Hannah Levane (Sister Act, We Will Rock You) and Olivier Award winner David Bedella (Jerry Springer The Opera).
Produced by Stuart Piper and Jason Haigh-Ellery for Whatsonstage.com, the Awards Concert is devised and directed by Russell Labey. Further contributions come from Lizzi Gee (choreography), Tom Deering (musical supervision and orchestrations), Mike Robertson (lighting) and Ben Harrison (sound). The adopted charity for the 2013 Awards is Interact, which is part of Stagecoach Charitable Trust. The organisation provides opportunities for disabled and disadvantaged children/young people to develop valuable life skills through drama, movement and music workshops.
This is the first major theatrical awards event to take place in 2013. It’s always exciting to see what the year ahead will bring to the theatre industry, but it’s just as exciting to look back and recognise the achievements of the previous year. The winners on Sunday will have been decided by the theatre-going public rather than a panel of industry professionals, so it is an interesting reflection of what the audiences enjoyed in 2012, which can often be in conflict with the opinions of the theatre critics. More than that though, it’s also a chance for those in attendance at the Palace Theatre to sit back for a couple of hours and bask in the talented glow of a variety of top-notch shows and performers, celebrating the best of 2012 in 2013.
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)
Thursday 7th February 2013