Lots and lots to see and do in theatreland this year, and this is only a snippet of some of the good stuff we’ve been lucky enough to have on our doorstep in 2011. Here’s MADEUP’s ‘best of’. Miss something out? Disagree? Let us know, and leave a comment. Here we go:
Best community: In a great year for community theatre, there were two simply outstanding productions. The first, in March, was Tell Tale’s adaptation of George Orwell’s 1984; the second, earlier this month, was What We Did Next’s take on Sondheim’s Into the Woods. Both resulted in some of the most interesting, beautifully realised and well-performed shows you could see anywhere in the city. Very much looking forward to future productions.
Charmer of the year: Gatacre lad Peter Serafinowicz never really made the connection with his hometown audience up to now, to the extent that many people never even knew he was a Scouser. But our favourite Geek Chic girls changed all that in 2011 when they invited him back for an evening in conversation at St George’s Hall (April). He loved it, and we loved him.
Best dance production of the year: Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella (Liverpool Empire, April). Beautiful stuff, and he’s back next month – huzzah.
Actor of the year (obvious category): It could only go to one man – our own David Morrissey, whose Everyman Macbeth was an absolute triumph. Although I’ve had to argue my case for this with a fair few others who thought his portrayal wasn’t hard-faced enough, to the detriment of the whole show, I strongly disagree. The subtlety and humanity he bought to the character really kept me gripped. (For information about downloading a film of the production read this.)
Actor of the year (indie category): Studio Liverpool’s Cellan Scott kicked some serious ass in 2011, first as a brooding Oirish Macbeth (February), then as a rather menacing clergyman in the wonderful A Warning Against Idle Gossip (June).
Best actress: Nicola Bentley gave a tender, touching performance in Lawrence Wilson’s Blackberry Trout Face (Unity theatre, September). Totally believable as the abandoned teenage daughter left with two brothers to look after, it was another taste of the playwright at his best.
Double act of the year: It’s Caz and Britney (pictured below), aka Gill Hardie and Keddy Sutton, whose Primark bag-carrying, Greggs-scoffing alter-egos are in the middle of penning their own show, Scottie Road, The Musical. Regulars on the cabaret circuit, these two are hilarious no matter how often you see the material.
Best musical: Until Caz and Britney’s opus is complete, we’ll make do with Evita, and the wonderful Abigail Jaye who played Eva Peron in the Kenwright production that returned to the Empire in June. I got a bit obsessed after that, and spent a few weeks watching clips of the film and practicing Evita’s balcony scene victory arms pose in the mirror.
Big comedy happening of the year: Somebody gave Tim Minchin an orchestra and an arena in July, and the results were spectacular. The big time couldn’t have happened to a nicer, more talented guy.
Best song: I’ll go into this elsewhere on Seven Streets before the year’s out, but after the end of Call Mr Robeson, the last production ever put on at the Everyman, the audience requested actor Tayo Aluko to sing one last song. Trees was the last thing the public ever heard on that stage.
Legend of the year: Has to be the wonderful Pete Postlethwaite, who passed away at the very beginning of 2011. His autobiography, A Spectacle of Dust, contains one of the most moving final chapters you’ll ever read.
Final curtain of the year: Can’t have a round up without mentioning the demise of our beloved Everyman. The theatre will soon rise again (hooray!); but not in 2012 (boo).
Best old school: Tommy Steele in Scrooge. How could I have never seen this before 2011?! (goes all gooey and squishy inside, buys everybody toys).
Event of the year: July’s Macula. The spirit of 2008 lived on with this brilliant, free outdoor display.
Best worst thing:
It would be hard to ever get bored of being rude about Queen musical We Will Rock You (Empire, September), and cringing at the very memory of sitting through it. Less ‘so bad it’s good’, more ‘so bad, let’s count our lucky stars we lived through it and never have to see anything like that ever again’.
Special prize for being so blimmin’ spectacular this year: It’s the Playhouse, a theatre that has just turned 100 in style, and given us some unforgettable productions to boot. Steven Berkoff’s Oedipus (March, top picture) made me swoon; laugh-a-minute Tartuffe got better with age on its second trip out (September); The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui (October) was unhinged, brilliant and looked incredible; and Graham Linehan’s Ladykillers (November) will be the toast of theatreland for a long time to come. All rounded off with the madcap joy of the rock ‘n’ roll panto, 2011 at the Playhouse was an endlessly fascinating, mind-expanding, hugely exciting and thoroughly inspirational place to be.