The Stage


Grads' Club

The winner takes it all…

…whilst the host makes it all up, it would seem. As the winners of the 2010 Olivier Awards recover, I can only hope the same can be said for poor Anthony Head who for one reason or another put in a less than superfluous performance as Sunday night’s host. He didn’t look at all comfortable behind his podium from the get go and that’s before the traumas of autocue were brought in. It was also unfortunately long after his script writer had been hired, who single-handedly managed to redefine what a gag could be: comically unfunny.

Of course, maybe he was nervous or tired, or perhaps under-rehearsed. Or maybe he’d overindulged in Blue Nun as dinner was served. Either way lets be grateful the awards were not televised this year. At least we all know Louie Spence is panto; this was just car crash. If the awards were to be televised once more, and I am all for that, then perhaps everything would’ve been a bit tighter and more effort taken with the overall presentation of the evening.

On the up side, a glorious hat-trick of wins and a wonderfully classy performance from Hello Dolly was a welcome relief from the evening’s bumbling and bad sound, which for the latter I forgive the sound team and lay blame solely on the shoulders of a former sporty spicy type of lady. Surely one of the Nolan sisters was free? Anyway, anyway, anyway… A well deserved trio of awards for the team at Regents Park and I’ve no doubt their 2010 season will bear more great theatre.

In rehearsals this week, we’ve got to the end of the show and now head back to the top and piece it all together. Adding new cast to a current company who know the show continues to prove a massive learning curve, but has thrown up some brilliant discussions along the way. One thing I think is vital in rehearsals is being allowed to mess up — to fail, to fall over quite spectacularly, perhaps breaking a horse puppet leg in the process or indeed kicking your fellow actors’ shins. Not deliberately of course. This failure and discovery of things that don’t work is the best way to find out what does work, and having that journey makes the result all the more valid and meaningful.

However, to make the rehearsal worthwhile, I think there must always be some element of success, no matter how small, to make sure you have something positive to leave the day on. And from experience, sometimes not being given enough time to achieve even a glimmer of success leads to frustration and stress, and doesn’t make best use of time. Allowing actor’s to try, fail, and then build on failures, making a bit of headway, perhaps just a small step up, is key to keeping the company engaged and ensure rehearsals facilitate both practice and progress.

On Monday I made my second visit to Legally Blonde to see a very youthful looking Dad. Needless to say he was marvellous and it was a joy to see friends doing so well and being so good at it. Incidentally, it was all the better for a second visit, having previously been part of the raucous gala press night crowd who had a little bit too much admiration for ex-boyband members than I deem appropriate - the fact they had any was a bit of a shock to be honest. But Sheridan Smith and Jill Halfpenny gave stellar performances and along with the cast, I can only hope that Smith gets a few award nods at next year’s theatrical prize givings.

And I leave with two bits of official news. Firstly, as of March 20, we’re officially enjoying spring and so expect to see daffodils aplenty teamed with the odd lamb, albeit minted with gravy if you’re in Highgate. Secondly, as of May 29, Pete Waterman will make a return to our screens to officially ruin our chances of doing well in Eurovision so expect a sea of ‘nil points’ teamed with national embarrassment.

Oh the shame.

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