The 2013 Whingie Awards – the very worst and the not so bad

Monday 6 January 2014

whingieawardA bit late getting around to this. But since it’s probably your first day back at work, let’s face it you’re not really intending to do any real work are you? Isn’t that why you’re here?

Anyhoo, a year ago we speculated that 2013 might be an unlucky year for some.

The unfortunate roof collapse at the Apollo Theatre proved this both true and untrue. Unlucky for anyone involved, but lucky in the sense that it could easily have been so much worse.

When Phil discussed the incident with his sister they realised they’d been to the Apollo together only once, ironically to the musical Up On the Roof.

But, as Phil watched events unfold on BBC News that night, there was a rather flattering moment for London Theatre audiences. Returning to the studio, after watching people describe what they’d seen inside the Apollo, the news anchor remarked that he’d never heard such articulate eyewitness reports before.

Unlucky for theatre critics too as they were picked off one by one. Who wasn’t reminded of the Vincent Price film Theatre of Blood? It seemed newspapers either didn’t want arts critics any more, or didn’t want the one they already had. And in one case, apparently found the spurious excuse of pants-dropping for dropping their scribe.

But it seems the critics are finding other outlets. The Telegraph’s Tim Walker is expanding on his appearance in Top Hat to play God in Spamalot. How long before we get to see Libby Purves’ Grizabella the glamour theatreCat, Mark Shenton disrobing in Hair or theatregoers saying “Hello” to Tim Walker’s Dolly! ?

It was also the year Andrew decided he didn’t want to write for the Whingers anymore. For the record, he went of his own accord, quashing the scurrilous rumours that Phil staged a coup after finding a rather inappropriate image of Andrew in his jim jams on the internet.

So without further ado, here are Phil’s choices for the year, just so he can use the word ‘actress’ again and not group everyone together as ‘actors’…

The Savoury Snack Award for Least Worst Actress of the Year
Much admired performances from Olivia Williams in Scenes From A Marriage, Hayley Atwell in The Pride, Anna Chancellor in Private Lives and Kristen Scott Thomas in Old Times. But Phil didn’t see Lesley Manville in Ghosts, Linda Bassett in Roots or Hattie Morahan in A Doll’s House and much as he enjoyed Helen Mirren in The Audience he feels she needs an another award for her HMQ as much as she needs a gay drumming band at her stage door. So we’re sending her a bag of royally appointed Bombay mix instead. To be even more controversial than the Evening Standard Theatre Awards, Phil isn’t going to bother handing out a Whingie here.

The Untied Least Worst Actor of the Year
A s
trong year for actors. Ben Whishaw and Daniel Mays in Mojo, Mark Bazeley in Scenes From A Marriage, Toby Stephens in Private Lives, Rupert Everett’s Oscar Wilde in The Judas Kiss, Alex Jennings in Untold Stories, Rufus Sewell in Old Times, and as Helen Mirren isn’t a man the Evening Standard allowed Rory Kinnear and Adrian Lester to tie for their splendid performances in Othello. But Phil thought Benedict Wong‘s subtle performance, though much applauded, was overlooked in Chimerica. He could call it a supporting performance but he has other plans for that, so Wong gets the nod.

Least Worst Play of the Year
No need to waste time going through the contenders here. Lucy Kirkwood’s Chimerica was this year’s Jerusalem which means, that like Jez Butterworth’s play, it probably won’t win the Olivier Award. It will have to make do with a Whingie instead.

Least Worst New Musical
Rather underwhelmed by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, perhaps we were just disappointed by it not being about Nigella having a night out at the Menier. Otherwise it was an unprecedentedly strong year for new musicals. Phil even liked From Here to Eternity and in any other year any of The Scottsbro Boys, The Commitments, Once, or American Psycho could easily have taken our fancy and our award. Unfortunately, for them, it happened also to be the year Book of Mormon opened.

The “..But On Second Thoughts” Award
Hold on there. Our voting process is completely open to scrutiny and Phil’s cast his vote again. Even though Mormon wasn’t tied he’s now declaring it a tie with the Almeida’s American Psycho.

Least Worst Musical Revival
Gosh, again it’s hard to choose a winner between The Sound of Music, A Chorus Line and Candide. But by looking at which received the most glasses of wine on these pages it seems the Menier’s Candide did. So Candide does.

Least Worst Actor in a Musical
Alexander Hanson was one of the few things that impressed in Stephen Ward. Matt Smith proved that he’s moved from alien to alienated in American Psycho and regenerated into an ad libbing stand up to boot. Kyle Scatliffe deserves a big thumbs up for Scottsboro as does Declan Bennett in Once. Then there was Gavin Creel and Jared Gertner who were both hilarious but split the vote for Mormon. And though Killian Donnelly deserves a slap on his wrists for not doing 8 shows a week in The Commitments, he does sing whilst consuming a bag of chips. So, the Whingie’s in the rather greasy bag for him.

Least Worst Actress in a Musical
Zrinka Cvitešić in Once? We would struggle to announce her name at our awards ceremony. And despite Phil having little time for The Light Princess, one must applaud Rosalie Craig singing at all points of the compass, including upside down. If she’d eaten a bag of chips at the same time the award would have been hers. So the award must fall to Charlotte Wakefield’s gloriously perky freilicht-Maria in The Sound of Music.

Least Worst Supporting Actress in a Musical
Everyone seems agreed that Joanna Riding’s Valerie Profumo is the high point of Stephen Ward. But there was also Leigh Zimmerman in A Chorus Line and Cassandra Compton as Bateman’s secretary Jean in American Psycho. But it was Scarlett Strallen‘s rendition of “Glitter and be Gay” as Cunegonde rifling through the treasure chest in Candide that finds her running off with more glitter; a twinkling Whingie Award.

Least Worst Supporting Actor in a Musical
Perhaps, should we be bothered, we might consider a best ensemble award. It seems unfair to pick out James T. Lane, Christian Dante White and Forrest McClendon in Scottsboro. But we will. Ryan Sampson as Private Maggio (the Sinatra role) deserves a special mention for his sterling ukulele and chain gang work in North Pacific, even if, sadly, he won’t be chained to the role for too long. But it was Stephen Ashfield’s hilarious mormon in Mormon that will win the Olivier Award this year. And ours too.

Least Worst Supporting Actress of the Year
Dervla Kirwan in soon-too-transfer The Weir. Splendid old lady work from June Watson, Gillian Hanna and Ingrid Craigie in The Cripple of Inishmaan. But it was the unknown (to Phil) Cecila Noble in The Amen Corner that took our eye and our award.

Least Worst Supporting Actor of the Year
Anyone in The Weir basically (apart from Ms Kirwan obvs) or Ron Cook for Trelawny of the Wells or John Heffernan for The Hothouse or Richard McCabe’s Harold Wilson in The Audience? No, and it always seems unfair when actors are nominated for 2 performances against other performers’ one, but it’s our awards and we can do what we like. So it goes to Charles Edwards for This House and especially Strange Interlude. We can’t wait to see his Charles Condomine in the upcoming Blithe Spirit with our newly-damed Angela Lansbury.

Least Worst Design of the Year
It was the year of video projection. Most musicals use it extensively now. From From Here to Eternity to American Psycho to the rather crap, hard-to-read flickerings of Stephen Ward‘s curtains. Yet Es Devlin’s designs for Chimerica combined brilliantly with Finn Ross’ video to take us through the dozens of locations the play demanded whilst never looking less than visually stunning. We will carve Devlin and Ross onto the Whingie plaque forthwith.

Theatrical Stinkers of the Year
The Ritual Slaughter of Gorge Mastromas at the Royal Court split critics, but not Phil who split at the interval (his only early departure of the year). Jaws dropped at the Redgrave/James Earl Jones Much Ado About Nothing at the Vic and there were no great expectations for The Captain of Köpenick at the National, but boy it was dull. But not as dull as the Ben Wishaw/Dame Judi vehicle, Peter and Alice, that pulled up with so much anticipation attached in the Michael Grandage season at the Noel Coward. Only 80 minutes long apparently. We were clock-watching after only 20 of them.

The Edwina Currie Award for Theatrical Trend of the Year
The brief trend for egg cracking/smashing started appropriately just before Easter in Children of the Sun and was picked up by both The Cripple of Inishmaan and The Amen Corner and, if memory serves correctly, at the Palladium, Les Patterson is currently cracking one into his rissoles.

Best “What The…?” Moments
The massive explosion which set off the fire alarm at the end of Children of the Sun ensured Phil didn’t need to trim his eyebrows for another couple of months. Then there was the lame attempt to portray an orgy convincingly whilst not scaring away the coach parties in the “You Never Had it So Good” number in Stephen Ward. But it was Jude Law’s breeches that caused Phil’s eyes to join his mind wandering during Henry V. Jude’s Henry set up camp before the Battle of Agincourt by providing enough tenting to shelter the whole army.

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16 Responses to “The 2013 Whingie Awards – the very worst and the not so bad”

  1. Charlie Says:

    Tiny correction – Patrick Bateman’s secretary in American Psycho is called Jean…

  2. mrbartfast Says:

    Jude Law did seem to be channeling Sir Les in those breeches

  3. Dorothy Ciulla Says:

    I’m sure it was a typo – you know his name is WHISHAW. Thanks for acknowledging his performance.

  4. Kat Says:

    Sad as I am to see Andrew depart these hallowed shores of sarcasm, I am thrilled that the Bad Ship WEW continues. Am always available as a bitchy plus one.

  5. Billy Says:

    Finally a word in these pages acknowledging Mr. Shenton’s unjust fate! Reading of the divorce of the Whingers conjures up images of Chang and Eng the Siamese Twins in that musical being surgically separated!

  6. Bill Says:

    I am no fan of those shabby Nimax theatres – apart from the sparkling Savoy – but the roof did not collapse at the Apollo. Sorry to be a pedant but it was the ceiling that fell in – or more specifically the plaster fell off the ceiling!

  7. Karen G Says:

    Agree with you on everything apart from ‘Peter and Alice’ which I found charming and moving. Also, you didn’t mention Cynthia Erivo in ‘The Color Purple’ what a voice and great stage presence.

    • Phil (a west end whinger) Says:

      Didn’t see it. It was the start of the heatwave. Assumed we would turn the colour purple.

      No one told us the Menier had installed air con…


  8. All fine choices and fine awards – though personally it pains me that no-one else (apart from my dear old mother) seems to think that Scottsboro Boys was 10x better than Book of Mormon.
    Chimerica would have won all my awards if I had ever got off my arse to see it.

  9. Baldassaro Says:

    Chimerica sounded way too worthy for me, so I gave it a body swerve. Imagine the shame of being beaten by the Whingers for seriousness…

  10. Blue Baby Says:

    I genuinely didn’t think the Old Vic “Much Ado” was as bad as other reviews have painted it. To be honest, the worst thing I saw last year was the Grandage “Dream”, in which David Walliams played David Walliams except when he was playing Frankie Howard, and Sheridan Smith wasn’t so much Queen of the Faeries as sad slapper thrown out of Wetherspoons at closing time.

    You’ve absolutely nailed it about the end of Children of the Sun. Audience sat there stunned for 10 seconds.

    Mojo had great performances but was disappointing in itself.

    Shame that Trelawny of The Wells didn’t get more critical acclaim than it was worth.

    Didn’t see many musicals, but whilst not strictly a musical, “Gabriel” at The Globe (a musical entertainment) was also one of my favourite things.


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