The Threepenny Opera was the biggest winner in the Backstage Pass Awards for the season 2013-14. Amongst its haul of five awards, our vivid take on the radical classic by Brecht and Weill was named the year’s Best Production.
Nominated and voted for by Nottingham Playhouse’s Backstage Pass members, the awards were announced as the sun poured down on their Summer Party last week.
The timely new staging of The Threepenny Opera – a coproduction with Graeae Theatre Company, Birmingham Rep, West Yorkshire Playhouse and the New Wolsey, Ipswich – proved popular with members. Not only did they pick it as the year’s best show, they also handed the Best Direction gong to co-directors Jenny Sealey and Peter Rowe. Fittingly for this fully-integrated production, BSL Interpreter Jude Mahon was named Best Actress in a Supporting Role, with Narrator John Kelly winning the equivalent male title and the entire company the award for Best Ensemble.
Already the holder of a Backstage Pass Award for his 2011 portrayal of Arturo Ui, Ian Bartholomew added two more, Best Actor and Most Versatile Performer, for his return to the Playhouse as Richard III –a production which also won Mark Jonathan the award for Best Lighting Design.
Best Actress was Sally Ann Triplett, who reincarnated a Hollywood legend in My Judy Garland Life. The same show lifted three further awards: Best Piece of New Writing went to dramatist Amanda Whittington, Best Music/Sound to MD Stefan Bednarczyk and sound designer Drew Baumohl, and Best Set Design to Tom Rogers and Barret Hodgson, whose video projection complemented the razzle-dazzle of Tom’s set.
The astonishing work of our youth and community groups was recognised with new awards for Best Actor and Actress in a Participation Production. Winners Dan Wolff and Maddy Chapman both starred in the specially reworked staging of All Quiet and the Western Front performed by our Youth Theatre at former bus depot Bartons in Chilwell, a highlight of the spring’s neat14 festival.
For the fourth year running Tim Meacock won the title of Best Costume Design, for his work on Jack and the Beanstalk. Nor could the occasion pass without a special accolade for Kenneth Alan Taylor, who marked his 30th Playhouse pantomime with a final appearance as the Dame.
Visiting performers were recognised too: Kate Rusby lifted the prize of Best Music Gig for a second time; Punt & Dennis won Best Comedy Gig; and West Yorkshire Playhouse’s adaptation of Benjamin Zephaniah’s Refugee Boy was members’ choice of Best Visiting Drama. Meanwhile, the runaway winner of Best Dance Performance was Mass Bolero – the city’s tribute to Torvill and Dean, conceived by the Playhouse’s Associate Director Fiona Buffini and enjoyed by many thousands on Notts TV and YouTube.
The winning productions edged out other much-nominated favourites including The Second Minute, Enron and even 1984 – which continues to thrill audiences in the West End until 23 August.
Voting for the year’s best shows and artists is just one small perk of Backstage Pass membership, whose main benefits include discounts of up to 50% on all Nottingham Playhouse Theatre Company performances. An annual subscription also brings savings in CAST, two free preview seats, two free programmes and much more.
The most garlanded show to date remains The Kite Runner, which swept the board with 7 wins at last year’s Backstage Pass Awards. Directed by Giles Croft, The Kite Runner returns to Nottingham Playhouse from Friday 29 August to Saturday 6 September as it embarks on a UK tour.