Friday, 31 December 2010

2010 in summary, including 2010 fosterIAN awards

So 2010 is very nearly over and I can honestly, hand on heart, say that I managed to see every single play that I wanted to see this year...all 271 of them. It was a mostly highly enjoyable experience, although writing about all of them came close to tiring me out on a couple of occasions...I might try to see a bit less in 2011 but we'll see, I'm not sure I'll be able to cut down!

What I particularly loved this year was the reaffirmation of the strong ensemble in so many plays. After a lot of recent kerfuffle about big stars dominating the West End, it was gratifying to see shows like All My Sons, After the Dance, Broken Glass, Clybourne Park, Tribes, all doing so well with fantastic group efforts and quality acting across the board rather than relying on star names.

No one venue really stood out above others as being the best this year, rather most theatres had a range of successes and duds. It is fashionable to acclaim the Royal Court and downstairs they did have a lot of success but we shouldn't forget that upstairs had a much more variable level of quality and with prices going up to £20 up there, it might lose some of its must-see quality for me, although the news that Colin Morgan will be appearing in Our Private Life is good news. The National Theatre as ever ran the gamut from the dire (for me at least) Danton's Death, Love the Sinner and Or You Could Kiss Me through the middling to the strong (Spring Storm, Hamlet) and the magnificent, After the Dance, The White Guard and Earthquakes in London.

The Arcola mixed it up something crazy as per usual but with some great successes and I am excited to see them in their new home; the Old Vic had a seriously unimpressive year but the Young Vic was much more exciting; the Finborough had an interesting year celebrating its 30th anniversary; the Donmar Warehouse largely underwhelmed me this year, just Red and Helen McCrory saving it and even the Almeida disappointed a little after a strong 2009 but the Barbican came up trumps more often than not with an exciting programme of esoteric productions, I particularly loved Song of the Goat and TR Warszawa's efforts, pushing the boundaries of what I normally see and offering great chances to see European companies.

Musicals-wise, I was largely very disappointed by the big arrivals: Love Never Dies, Hair, Passion, none of them stirred me whether due to overhype or just poor quality, but it was a year of discovery for fringe musicals which were in plentiful supply and of the highest quality. The Union Theatre is really establishing itself as a place to watch, as is Upstairs at the Gatehouse and Legally Blonde was a great addition to the West End, I hope it continues to have legs afer Sheridan Smith's imminent departure. I Sondheimed myself out, seeing the vast majority of the productions, many for the first time, and finding myself increasingly detached from his deliberate cerebralism: a surprise to me as much as anyone!

So before I summarise the winners of the second annual fosterIAN awards, I thought I'd take a leaf from the Guardian's book and list some of my highlights from the year in general: let me know some of yours.

1. The entirety of the Celebration of Kate McGarrigle concert: not strictly theatre but anyone who has seen one of their family concerts will tell you they are as theatrical as any group of people if not more! A fitting tribute to a talented singer, beloved mum/sister/aunt/friend and a testament to her enduring success as a songwriter. Rufus and Emmylou singing I Eat Dinner, Lisa Hannigan's every note and Martha's tear-jerking Proserpina were particularly special and we live to regret that it was not filmed.
2. Getting to clamber through an oversized air duct and then crowd surf, but with people concerned for my health and safety in You Me Bum Bum Train: exhilarating beyond belief! But other immersive experiences like the all-night Hotel Medea, Cart Macabre and finally getting to go through the Pale Blue Door also provided a great introduction into the ways theatrical boundaries can be pushed.
3. Rediscovering my love for both Les Mis and Avenue Q albeit in different ways, but both up there in my all-time favourite musicals and it was so nice to be reminded just why that is. 4. Entering the Cottesloe for Earthquakes in London to see one of the best reinventions of that space I've ever seen.
5. Mike Bartlett in general.
6. Anton Stephans and Hannah Waddingham filling Cadogan Hall with a simply sensational rendition of Jason Robert Brown's Coming Together as part of Stephans' concert Grateful.
7. The intense emotion of seeing the best representation of life as a deaf person onstage in Tribes: a truly humbling moment for me, almost too much to bear in a public theatre as the lovely woman sat next to me the first time I saw it will attest.
8. And last but by no means least, all the lovely lovely people I have met through this blog and Twitter who have really made the whole blogging experience even more worthwhile. I've loved your feedback, you kept my spirits going when they threatened to flag, provided moral support in low moments and been excellent drinking and theatre buddies in general: y'all know who you are and I look forward to seeing you again soon and indeed meeting some of you for the first time.

Summary of the 2010 fosterIAN awards

Best Play
Tribes

Best Actor in a Play
John Heffernan, Love Love Love

Best Actress in a Play
Michelle Terry, Tribes

Best Supporting Actor in a Play
Robin Soans, Palace of the End

Best Supporting Actress in a Play
Rachael Stirling, A Midsummer Night's Dream

Best Musical
Once Upon A Time at the Adelphi

Best Actor in a Musical
Sam Harrison, Salad Days and Avenue Q

Best Actress in a Musical
Tracie Bennett, End of the Rainbow

Best Supporting Actor in a Musical
Michael Xavier, Into the Woods

Best Supporting Actress in a Musical
Hannah Waddingham, Into the Woods
Leading Man of the Year
Elliot Cowan

Best Play & Best Musical

Best Play



1. Tribes
This won't really be a surprise to anyone who reads this blog as Nina Raine's Tribes is one of those plays that will surely stay with me forever, with its immense personal resonance to my own experiences, some beautiful staging ideas, an incredible ensemble and as perfect and sympathetic a representation of the issues it covered than one could have hoped for. This was theatre at its best: thought-provoking, highly emotional and truly life-changing.

2. You Me Bum Bum Train
As brilliant an introduction to immersive theatrical experiences as one could have hoped for. Booked on a random whim without knowing anything about it, this was one of the most fun things I have ever done, yet the moments before I entered into this world were ones of genuine fear as I really had no idea whatsoever to expect and was terrified at the prospect of getting into the wheelchair that started the journey. Keep an eye out for their next adventure, it will be definitely worth it.
3. Palace of the End

A stunningly affecting evening of three monologues about Iraq that was rarely easy viewing but vitally important and intensely compelling: a triumph for the Arcola.
4. Love Love Love

Mike Bartlett proving himself as one of the most interesting playwrights in the UK and tackling current issues with an incisive touch and one of the best ears for sharply observed dialogue.
5. After the Dance
Classy National Theatre production of this relatively unknown Rattigan play with a great ensemble, great dresses and whetting the appetite perfectly for the centenary of his birth in 2011.

6. All My Sons
7. Holding The Man
8. Broken Glass

9. The Man

10. Henry IV Part I & II


Just missing out...
The Glass Menagerie, The Road To Mecca, Clybourne Park


Best Musical



1. Once Upon A Time at the Adelphi
An unexpected pleasure and one of the few times that I deliberately booked to see a show for a second time within the month. Phil Wilmott's show was an exuberant experience, full of hummable tunes, fantastic choreography and a moving storyline bringing laughs and tears, this was sheer delight for me and perfectly suited to the Union Theatre, a real force on the South Bank and genuinely challenging the Menier for the go-to theatre for exciting and interesting musicals.

2. Love Story

A rarity in the West End in being a new British musical and a classy, understated and simply gorgeous one at that. Taking the well known story and fashioning a string-laden chamber musical out of it and featuring some stunning singing, great chemistry between its leads and onstage pasta sauce making (whilst singing), it deserves to be seen by as many people as possible so book your tickets now!
3. Les Misérables
A fantastic makeover of an old favourite that was surprisingly effective and a fitting tribute for its 25th anniversary celebrations.

4. Nevermore
A curious little Canadian musical about Edgar Allan Poe which was eerily atmospheric and utterly captivating: deserves to be brought back by the Barbican.

5. Salad Days
6. The Drowsy Chaperone

7. Legally Blonde The Musical

8. State Fair

9. Iolanthe
10. Midsummer [a play with songs]


Just missing out...Spend! Spend! Spend!, Into the Woods, Just So

Best Actor in a Play & in a Musical

Best Actor in a Play



John Heffernan, Love Love Love


One of those risky occasions when I allowed expectations to rocket sky-high was with Love Love Love, a new play by Mike Bartlett, fast becoming one of my favourite new playwrights, and featuring the delectable John Heffernan, fast becoming one of my favourite actors, to which I ventured to Manchester’s Royal Exchange in order to see it. And fortunately it paid off in dividends with (to my mind at least) a stronger play than Earthquakes in London and anchored by a stunning central performance from Heffernan, anchoring the play in a solid reality that allowed Daniela Denby-Ashe to play off him with huge amounts of fun as his raucous partner but also provided a strong platform for Bartlett to present the counter-case defending the baby boomers. Heffernan managed the leaps in age extremely proficiently, delivered the sharp dialogue well yet still brought a beautiful subtlety to the role: combined with his own turn in the superb After the Dance, mark my words, he really is a name for the future. He will be playing Richard II at the Tobacco Factory in Bristol early next year, I shall of course be there!


Honourable Mention
Benedict Cumberbatch, After the Dance
Before coming to the attention of the nation in a huge way with Stephen Moffat’s Sherlock, Benedict Cumberbatch has been steadily building a strong reputation for himself which was further continued with this excellent performance in Rattigan’s After the Dance. As the emotionally repressed David, he continued his hedonistic lifestyle, blissfully unaware of the damage he was causing to others around him and seemingly incapable of change: a sterling performance in a cracking production. He is of course taking to the stage at the National again in February in Frankenstein, cross-cast with Jonny Lee Miller as the doctor and the monster.


Jacob Casselden, Tribes
David Suchet, All My Sons
Roger Allam, Henry IV Part I + II
Andrew Scott, Design for Living


7-10
Antony Sher, Broken Glass; Tom Goodman-Hill, Earthquakes in London; Matt Zeremes, Holding the Man; Richard Clothier, Richard III


Best Actor in a Musical


Sam Harrison, Salad Days

For a while John Owen-Jones was in the running for this award for finally making me like the character of Jean Valjean who, despite me loving Les Mis like nothing else, has always been rather annoying to me! But when Salad Days swept me away on a gloomy Sunday afternoon to an altogether happier place and I realised just where I recognised the leading man from, the award moved into Sam Harrison’s hands. For it was he, amongst others, who helped me to fall right back in love with Avenue Q after I had had a bit of overkill, but in an understudy-heavy performance, he reminded why I loved that show so much. And going to see Salad Days with no idea what to expect, he brought his huge likeability to bear in a beautifully old-school take on his character, harking back to musical stars of old with nifty moves, strong pipes and a straight earnestness that was just so refreshing to see. Salad Days continues at the Riverside Studios through February.



Honourable Mention
Jon-Paul Hevey, Once Upon A Time at the Adelphi
Another unexpected pleasure came in Once Upon A Time at the Adelphi which became one of those shows that I texted everyone about as soon as I left the theatre, such was my enjoyment of it. Helped immeasurably by the classically handsome Jon-Paul Hevey (I swear he is a shoo-in for Sex and the City the musical!) as cheeky chappie Thompson and demonstrating the charm and vitality that sustained Alice’s love for such a long time and for good reason.


John Owen-Jones, Les Misérables
Alan Richardson, Iolanthe
Matthew Pidgeon, Midsummer [a play with songs]
Dean Charles Chapman, Billy Elliot The Musical


7-10
Michael Xavier, Love Story; Roger Rowley, The Buddy Holly Story; Lee Greenaway, Just So; Chris Fountain, Departure Lounge

Best Actress in a Play & in a Musical

Best Actress in a Play



Michelle Terry, Tribes


Michelle Terry and Nancy Carroll have swapped between these two places so many times since I started this decision-making but ultimately Terry edged by virtue of her performances elsewhere this year. Bringing an intelligently thought-through depth to a paper-thin character in London Assurance and flexing the acting muscles in Caryl Churchill’s Light Shining in Buckinghamshire were both great turns, but it was in Nina Raine’s Tribes that she just blew me away with a richly nuanced and deeply emotional interpretation of her character and revealing herself to be a beautifully natural signer (not as easy as it sounds). The poise with which she tolerated the madness of the dinner table at her boyfriend’s table and the grace with which she defended her choices and explained the frustrations of someone going deaf and all that they lose just broke my heart with its simple elegance and touched me very deeply. Not sure what Terry’s next move is, but I’ll be sure to keep you posted.


Honourable Mention
Nancy Carroll, After the Dance
As mentioned, this was my most closely contested category this year between these two, but Carroll’s performance in After the Dance really was a thing of wonder. The way in which she sketched Joan’s journey through the complex feelings for husband David was simply heartbreaking and the depth of emotion she evoked with her back to the audience at the end of Act II was just sensational.


Zoë Wanamaker, All My Sons
Helen McCrory, The Late Middle Classes
Miranda Raison, Anne Boleyn
Sophie Thompson, Clybourne Park


7-10
Daniela Denby-Ashe, Love Love Love; Lucy Cohu, Broken Glass; Linda Bassett, The Road To Mecca; Kim Cattrall, Private Lives/Antony & Cleopatra


Best Actress in a Musical


Tracie Bennett, End of the Rainbow


Quite simply one of the most jaw-dropping experiences on stage for quite some time. Bennett doesn’t so much perform the role of Judy Garland as inhabit her in End of the Rainbow, unafraid to show the depths of her addiction and the tragic effect it had on her stage act, as well as the stellar performances that brought her such renown. Bennett plays both the acting and singing scenes with such conviction that the weaknesses in the play are just overcome by the force of her performance. And what better ending than a practically unanimous and instantaneous standing ovation which was received with such humility that one just wanted to go up there and hug her. Just outstanding, and still playing at the Trafalgar Studios so make a trip if you haven’t planned one already.


Honourable Mention
Emma Williams, Love Story
Never having had the pleasure of seeing Emma Williams perform on stage, I can’t think of a better introduction than the gorgeous Love Story in which she captures hearts as the ballsy no-nonsense heroine Jenny whose untimely end brings forth both tears and well deserved standing ovations. She has such a lovely voice that is so well suited to Howard Goodall’s music that from the moment I left the Duchess theatre I have been eagerly anticipating the cast recording. You can still catch Williams in Love Story now.


Cora Bissett, Midsummer [a play with songs]
Sheridan Smith, Legally Blonde The Musical
Katie Moore, Salad Days
Kirsty Hoiles, Spend! Spend! Spend!


7-10
Cassidy Janson, Avenue Q; Rebecca Hutchinson, Once Upon A Time at the Adelphi; Lisa Baird, Just So; Victoria Hamilton-Barritt, Flashdance The Musical

Best Supporting Actor in a Play & in a Musical

Best Supporting Actor in a Play



Robin Soans, Palace of the End


One of the beauties of this year of relentless theatre-going has been the occasional absolute diamond that has emerged. And in a play that simply blew me away most unexpectedly, in this case Palace of the End at the Arcola, Robin Soans as weapons inspector David Kelly delivered one of the most searingly intense monologues I have ever witnessed. Brutal in its unflinching honesty, captivating with his unwavering gaze, this was simply breathtaking acting: at times difficult to watch but impossible to ignore. I don’t know what Soans’ plans for 2011 are, but rest assured I’ll be trying my best to see him no matter where.


Honourable Mention
Nigel Lindsay, Broken Glass
This was such a tight category for me to decide, all of these actors really did impress me but sneaking into second place (after a little time at the top) is Nigel Lindsay in Broken Glass. His turn as the extremely charming and most excellently booted GP who struggled to maintain his professional detachment from the strangely alluring Sylvia provided a magnificent contrast to Antony Sher’s tightly coiled husband and it is a crying shame that the production wasn’t able to transfer to a larger theatre to become more widely seen as it surely deserved. It was also notable as the last chance to see Lindsay flex his thespian muscles more clearly as he will be submitting to daily green makeovers as he takes on the lead role in Shrek the Musical from May.


Adrian Scarborough, After the Dance
Eddie Redmayne, Red
Stephen Campbell Moore, All My Sons
William Gaunt, Henry IV Part I + II


7-10
Leo Bill, Posh/The Glass Menagerie; Dominic Tighe, Richard III; Henry Lloyd Hughes, Rope/Posh; Angus Wright, Design for Living


Best Supporting Actor in a Musical


Michael Xavier, Into the Woods


Anyone who can sing ‘Hello little girl’ with charm and allure and not come across like too much of a paedophile should be commended, and in Into The Woods, Michael Xavier managed just that as the Wolf and doubling up as Cinderella’s Prince, added a restless swashbuckling charm (and a much-welcomed sexy swagger) to the chilly night at the Open Air Theatre. Xavier can currently be seen in the utterly gorgeous Love Story at the Duchess, definitely a recommended visit.


Honourable Mention
Matthew James Willis, Iolanthe
Picking out one member of the Iolanthe cast initially felt a little churlish as I really did enjoy it all across the board, but as one half of a dusty old couple of dons discovering their love for each other, Willis was a delightful discovery. His Earl Tolloller was wonderfully sung as well as well acted and I really hope that he transfers with the production when it moves to Wilton’s Music Hall for a run there in the New Year.


Tom Parsons, Avenue Q
Michael Howe, The Drowsy Chaperone
Liam Tamne, Departure Lounge
Earl Carpenter, Les Misérables


7-10
Peter Polycarpou, Love Story; Samuel J Holmes, Pirates of Penzance; Jon Robyns, Les Misérables; Spencer O’Brien, Salad Days

Best Supporting Actress in a Play & in a Musical

Best Supporting Actress in a Play



Rachael Stirling, A Midsummer Night’s Dream


That voice! That voice! I could listen to Stirling read the telephone directory and it would be a happy day. And it is remarkable that in a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream that saw Dame Judi Dench taking on the role of Titania once again, it was Stirling from whom I could not tear my eyes. She brought such fiery warmth to her Helena, a great clarity to her verse speaking but her best moments for me (ironically) were when she was not speaking but reacting to the Rude Mechanicals’ efforts where she was just gorgeous to watch, almost stealing the show from an extremely funny Pyramus and Thisbe. You can currently catch her in An Ideal Husband, which finishes in February.


Honourable Mention
Jemima Rooper, All My Sons
Playing against such heavyweights as Suchet and Wanamaker both delivering stellar performances, one could have forgiven Rooper and Stephen Campbell Moore for slacking a little bit in their supporting roles in Arthur Miller’s All My Sons. But part of what made this production such a monster success was the strength of their own performances, standing up to these heavyweight talents and delivering their own great turns. Rooper’s face-off with Wanamaker was one of my favourite scenes of the year. Rooper is currently in Me and My Girl in Sheffield, and I’m going inn early January!


Jessica Raine, Earthquakes in London
Sylvestra Le Touzel, Les Parents Terribles
Clare Higgins, Hamlet
Madeleine Potter, Broken Glass


7-10
Noma Dumezweni, Romeo & Juliet/The Winter’s Tale; Barbara Marten, Henry IV Part I + II; Jade Williams, Palace of the End/ Henry IV Part I + II; Sian Clifford, The Road To Mecca


Best Supporting Actress in a Musical


Hannah Waddingham, Into the Woods


I first lost my heart to Hannah Waddingham in A Little Night Music a couple of years back, but this year she really confirmed her place as one of my most favourite musical theatre actresses with four stellar performances that I was lucky enough to see. Rocking the Menier Chocolate Factory with her own cabaret was massive amounts of fun; appearing at Wilton’s Music Hall as part of a charity gala was lovely (and possibly her best rendition of Send in the Clowns yet); her contribution to Anton Stephans’ concert Grateful, singing Jason Robert Brown’s Coming Together with Stephans was one of those indescribable moments of bliss, but in Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods, in a cleverly designed production at the Open Air Theatre, she excelled as the Witch. Whether hunched over as the disguised crone or standing statuesquely tall post-transformation, she sang beautifully and precisely, really demonstrating herself to be, alongside co-star Jenna Russell, as one of the best interpreters of Sondheim in a year when we heard so very much of his works. She will evidently spend most of next year in The Wizard of Oz but I hope Lloyd-Webber is coming up with some crackers for her to sing as the Wicked Witch of the West is not a part best known for its songs. Now I just need to her to look at me, just once, as she sings the line ‘there ought to be clowns’ and I would die a happy man!


Honourable Mention
Jodie Jacobs, State Fair
Again, a bit of a recognition of a body of work for the year here as Jacobs managed the not inconsiderable feat of appearing in three different musicals in as many months: Bright Lights Big City, Me & Juliet and the revival of State Fair at the Trafalgar Studios, this latter of which was my favourite of all her performances and one of my highlights of the year. As Emily, the showgirl with a heart and a wise head, she shone in the tiny Studio 2, revelling in the heady flirtations with Karl Clarkson’s dopey farm-boy, dazzling with her own burlesque-inspired routine and hoofing with the best of them in the numerous glorious ensemble numbers. People around the country will be able to see her next year in the touring production of Footloose (I think), but I hope it is not too long before she hits London’s stages again.


Karen Mann, Spend! Spend! Spend!
Siobhan McCarthy, The Drowsy Chaperone
Jill Halfpenny, Legally Blonde The Musical
Twinnie Lee Moore, Flashdance The Musical


7-10
Ally Holmes, Once Upon A Time at the Adelphi; Beverley Rudd, Into the Woods; Jenna Russell, Into the Woods; Aoife Mulholland, Legally Blonde The Musical

Friday, 24 December 2010

The 2010 fosterIAN award nominations

For all the talk of people setting up blogs just to get free tickets that provoked my ire earlier this year, the simple truth of why I started my blog is much more self-obsessed...it was to get this word into the lexicon: fosterIAN (fos-tîr'ē-ən), my very own award for theatrical excellence! Last years' winners and nominations can be read by clicking on the links, but I present to you, after much deliberation and several sleepless nights, the nominations for the 2010 fosterIAN awards, based on my trips to the theatre this year which total up to 271 in the final analysis. (Results to come in the New Year)

Best Play

Best Actor in a Play
Roger Allam, Henry IV Part I & Part II
Jacob Casselden, Tribes
Benedict Cumberbatch, After the Dance
John Heffernan, Love Love Love
Andrew Scott, Design for Living
David Suchet, All My Sons

Best Actress in a Play
Nancy Carroll, After the Dance
Miranda Raison, Anne Boleyn
Michelle Terry, Tribes
Sophie Thompson, Clybourne Park
Zoë Wanamaker, All My Sons

Best Supporting Actor in a Play
William Gaunt, Henry IV Part I & Part II
Nigel Lindsay, Broken Glass
Stephen Campbell Moore, All My Sons
Eddie Redmayne, Red
Adrian Scarborough, After the Dance
Robin Soans, Palace of the End

Best Supporting Actress in a Play
Clare Higgins, Hamlet
Sylvestra Le Touzel, Les Parents Terribles
Madeleine Potter, Broken Glass
Jessica Raine, Earthquakes in London
Jemima Rooper, All My Sons
Rachael Stirling, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Best Musical

Best Actor in a Musical
Dean Charles Chapman, Billy Elliot The Musical
Sam Harrison, Salad Days
John Owen-Jones, Les Misérables
Alan Richardson, Iolanthe

Best Actress in a Musical
Tracie Bennett, End of the Rainbow
Kirsty Hoiles, Spend! Spend! Spend!
Katie Moore, Salad Days
Emma Williams, Love Story

Best Supporting Actor in a Musical
Earl Carpenter, Les Misérables
Michael Howe, The Drowsy Chaperone
Tom Parsons, Avenue Q
Liam Tamne, Departure Lounge
Matthew James Williams, Iolanthe
Michael Xavier, Into the Woods

Best Supporting Actress in a Musical
Jodie Jacobs, State Fair
Twinnie Lee Moore, Flashdance The Musical
Siobhan McCarthy, The Drowsy Chaperone
Hannah Waddingham, Into the Woods














Thursday, 23 December 2010

Leading Man of the Year 2010

Whereas the aim of the blog has always been to take a semi-serious look at theatrical productions up and down the country, when it comes down to it, I can be extremely shallow and get easily distracted by pretty faces and fit bodies. And so too, it seems, do my readers as my Leading Man of the Year post last year has consistently been one of the most viewed posts on here!! So without further delay, I present to you my top ten of 2010: some familiar faces, some less well-known and some unexpected crushes, but all of whom set my little heart a-flutter at some point this year.



1. Elliot Cowan

Last year’s number one and he has done absolutely nothing wrong this year to deserve losing that position. Indeed in creating one of the sexiest Macbeth’s we’ve had for quite some time, I imagine he’ll have won some new ardent admirers. And following that up with a nifty turn in An Ideal Husband and perversely keeping his clothes on in a role more than he has done for a couple of years, he continues to be one of the most appealing actors on the British stage (and he can really act too, not just a pretty face/body and comes across as a top bloke on the old Twitter)

2. Sam Swainsbury

You’ve got to love a hard worker and Swainsbury appeared in no less than 4 shows this year, but it was the first one, The Rivals at the Southwark Playhouse, where he really came to my attention. Some flirty wideboy banter at the top of the show made me pay attention and then during the show, at a crucial moment in the show, he came into the audience to hide and sat on my lap for a few minutes, a not altogether unpleasant experience! As a cheeky chappie-type in A Day at the Racists, he continued to appeal and though he had lost a little of his allure in Hay Fever, his efforts in Propeller’s Richard III reaffirmed his attraction to me.

3. Matthew MacFadyen

Ever since his turn as Tom in Spooks, Matthew MacFadyen has been a popular choice in this household, and being paired with Kim Cattrall in Private Lives allowed for him a more acerbically funny role than I’ve seen him in before. Also he got to wear silk pyjamas which was nice. (Incidentally, Matthew MacFadyen’s hairy chest is my 18th most popular search term of the year!)

4. Charlie Cox

Probably the only redeeming feature of the Donmar Warehouse's The Prince of Homoburg (copyright @3rdspearcarrier) was Charlie Cox’s fine self and I am not too proud to say that I spent most of the show trying to get a good view of his nipples down his loose fitting shirt. When a show is as dull as that one was, you gotta find your own way to get through it...


5. Andrew Scott

A funny one for me as Mr Scott isn’t someone I find hugely attractive generally speaking, but something happens when he gets on stage that makes him irresistible. It happened in Cock last year and in Design for Living this year where his scene with Tom Burke at the end of Act II was one of the achingly sexiest things onstage this year. Again, there were silk pyjamas involved, but this isn’t a prerequisite for me, honest!

6. Oliver Chris

The highlight of Season’s Greetings for me, indeed one of the only things that got me through me, and strangely reminiscent of Simon Groom from Blue Peter, evidently unearthing something of a boyhood crush I didn’t even know I had, but this Act I outfit looked amazing on him and it was no wonder Catherine Tate’s character had difficulty controlling herself... Plus he is Rachael Stirling’s other half, which makes me love him even more.

7. James Graham

One of the unexpected pleasures of the year was James Graham’s The Man at the Finborough. I didn’t have the flexibility to see Samuel Barnett in the show and so I ended up seeing the playwright himself performing the one man show, and I swear by the end of it, I would have done anything that he asked! Unafraid to show a hugely endearing vulnerability and a clear talent for writing plays, he’s the type of man you’d be quite happy to take home to your mother.

8. Sam Crane

An unexpected pleasure who popped up several times this season at the Globe, was Jake Gyllenhaal look-alike Sam Crane. Whether as the charismatic but doomed Hotspur or the buccaneering Pistol in the Henry IV plays or the foppish Lawrence in Bedlam, he has something of the stage magnetism that makes me think we will be seeing a lot more of this guy in years to come.


9. Chris Fountain

Chris Fountain: the boy from Hollyoaks is all growed up now. And as demonstrated in Departure Lounge as would-be alpha male JB, he has a nice pair of pipes on him too




10. Ciaran McConville

Obviously so much of this list is subjective and this one is most definitely a case of you had to be there to get it, but if you did go to see Beyond the Pale at the Southwark Playhouse then you cannot have failed to have been bewitched by Ciaran McConville. From the moment he started talking to me in the bar (part of the show, rather than my magnetic personality) he had me sold on the whole interactive promenade shebang despite it being fricking freezing under those arches.



Honourable mentions:

Kevin Guthrie in the National Theatre of Scotland’s Peter Pan, though it is probably illegal and possibly immoral to fancy Peter Pan
Nigel Lindsay in his lovely riding boots in Broken Glass
Daniel Boys: I mean just look at the picture!


Thanks to everyone who helped me out one way or another with finding pictures. This has all been done for a bit of light-hearted festive fun, but if there are issues with any of the photos I’ve used, then please do contact me.












































(This pic courtesy of the lovely Jan at http://www.elliotcowanchat.org/index.php)