Thursday, 25 February 2016

It's all about the cast not the theatre itself

I have a bit of a bone to pick with theatre-goers. And no, this is not another rant about theatre etiquette although I could quite easily talk about that again. Apparently someone brought fried chicken into the front row of Miss Saigon recently - like SERIOUSLY? I genuinely think there should be an audition for people to even be in the audience at the West End.

Anyway, moving on...

This is actually about the What's On Stage Awards.

The What's On Stage Awards, in my opinion, are the best awards out there for the very fact that all the winners are voted for by the public. And I think that is just wonderful. After all, we are the people who are keeping the theatre alive through our attendance of its shows so it is only fitting that we reward the ones that we think are doing particularly great.

What saddened me though, is that the majority of the winners were ALL celebrities: Benedict Cumberbatch and Nicole Kidman won best actor and actress in a play while Matt Henry and Imelda Staunton won best actor/actress for musicals. And Lara Pulver, Imelda Staunton, and Mark Gatiss won the supporting actors awards.

These days so many people go to the theatre because of who is in it rather than what is in it and the results of the What's On Stage Awards just proves this. I think it is plain wrong.

When you are deciding whether to go to the theatre or not, it shouldn't matter whether there are any  famous people in a show. In fact on many occasions they do not have as much skill as ordinary theatre actors (although the celebs mentioned above are all INCREDIBLE!) What does matter is the show itself: who wrote it, what the songs are like, the plot, the book, the direction, the set.

It's ever so slightly different when it comes to 'theatre-famous people' -- I would follow Jamie Parker and Killian Donnelly to the ends of the earth watching them act out shopping lists. But the reason is I know that they are going to be fab.

I feel like this isn't the reason that people follow celebs into theatres around London. It seems to be more a childish urge to boast that they have seen a famous face in action rather than truly appreciating the work that is being done. And although I of course advocate anything that gets bums on seats (a professional ticket-selling term) and therefore keeps the West End alive, I do fear there is something being lost when the West End is becoming little more than an extension of Hollywood. I do not envy anyone with dreams of entering the West End at all.

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