Tag Archives: Whatsonstage

The 2013 Whatsonstage Awards – A two-class society

18 Feb

Last night I attended the annual Whatsonstage Awards. I’ve been at the awards show for the last few years and so far it has always been a stagey and fun event – usually a bit random in parts and sometimes lacking a bit of professionalism but that never took anything away from the enjoyment on the night.

This year however I witnessed something that actually left me rather speechless. Now, I understand Whatsonstage likes to boost its profile with this awards show. It’s a business after all and Whatsonstage wants and needs to make money, stay in the press, acquire new sponsors and so on. I get this and there’s nothing wrong with that.

What is plain wrong though is the way some of the nominees were treated on the night. Yes, in most categories the winner was basically set as soon as the nominees were announced. It’s next to impossible to win when you’re in one category with Michael Ball or Mel C. But still, every nominee that takes time out of an often busy schedule to attend the awards deserves to receive the same amount of respect.

At this year’s awards I got to see something that can only be called a two-class society. Whatsonstage obviously decided to focus completely on the Michael Balls, Ramin Karimloos, Sherdian Smiths and Tim Minchins in the business – and please don’t get me wrong, I’ve got nothing against these people. They’ve worked hard to be were they are and they deserve their success. Whatsonstage can pamper them all the way – I’ve got no problem with that.

I do, however, have a problem with Whatsonstage’s treatment of some of the nominees who don’t fit into their “Mr. or Mrs. Popular” scheme. I mean, seriously, when you put on an awards show and you have a lot of nominees showing up on the night one thing should be a given: You seat ALL the nominees in the stalls because they might have to walk up on stage at some point to collect their award.

But that’s not what Whatsonstage did. No, someone (and whoever it was should hang his/her head in shame!) decided to just seat some of the nominees in the Dress Circle and even the Upper Circle. That obviously meant said nominees knew one thing before the show had even started – they had not won an award.

Can you even start to imagine what this must feel like? Yes, a lot of them were aware that they stood little chance in their category. But how terrible must they have felt to be treated like second class nominees by a company that should have known better than to act in such a disrespectful way towards hard working people who are a vital part of the industry.

Whatsonstage, I have always supported your work and enjoyed the events you put on. I’ve voted in the annual Whatsonstage awards and I have been attending the awards show every year. But what I had to witness last night has truly shown me that in the end it’s all about the money and the popularity and the showing off with “theatre celebrities”. This is not something I want to be a part of in any way. For me one of the most important values of the arts has always been the sense of community. And that’s what was missing last night.

As much as I enjoyed parts of the awards show itself the whole evening left a really bad taste in my mouth. Shame on you, Whatsonstage!


2013 Whatsonstage Awards – A personal plug

7 Dec

As a lot of you will have noticed the shortlists for the 2013 Whatsonstage Awards have been announced today. So now it’s time to start thinking about who to vote for. For some categories voting will probably be easy for you and I’m sure there will be the odd category in which you are undecided or simply have no idea who to vote for.

If one of those categories happens to be Best Takeover in a role I’d like you to consider giving your vote to Dean Chisnall for Shrek in Shrek the musical. Now, I know this show is not to everyone’s taste and you may have seen it and not been blown away by it. But please read on and let me tell you why I think you should vote for Dean anyway.

I have known Dean for a couple of years now. I first saw him on stage when he was in Never Forget and I have followed his career ever since. And I can say without a doubt that I have never met a more dedicated performer in my 15+ years of theatre going. Dean truly loves his job and he puts everything into it. After understudying the part for almost a year he was promoted to first cast Shrek in February 2012 and he has been playing the role night after night to rave reviews ever since (actually those reviews started while he was still an understudy – I’ve never heard people say a bad word about his performance no matter if they liked the show as a whole or not). Shrek is one of the toughest parts in the West End at this point – he’s on stage almost constantly and you can imagine performing in that costume is not easy. But Dean will never give less than 100%.

I interviewed Dean for this blog a short while ago and asked him about the awards. This is what he had to say: “I’m so competitive! And everyone wants to win, of course they do. But I feel like the show deserves a bit more recognition than it’s had. And it would feel like such a triumph not just for me but for anyone who’s ever understudied. I’m sure there are other people in the category who will get shortlisted who won’t have done the route that I’ve done. I’ve been an understudy for so many years and then to get the part of Shrek – it would be a triumph for everyone who has ever covered anything. That’s my main reason for wanting to win. Obviously personal pride comes into it as well but I’d rather win it for everybody else to be honest.”

I know competition in the Best Takeover category is tough. I adored Ramin Karimloo’s take on Jean Valjean and really enjoyed seeing Gina Beck as Glinda (to name just two other nominees). So all I ask of you is to consider giving your vote to someone who has truly worked his butt off for being where he is today and who – after being an understudy in several shows – has finally gotten a lead part in a big West End show. Personally, I couldn’t think of anyone more deserving of an award.

Follow this link to vote: http://awards.whatsonstage.com/awards/vote

PS: Thought this might be quite fitting. Feel free to use this wherever you like. 😉