AWARDS SHORTLIST: Best Theatre Actress 2021

It’s been quite the year, it’s almost Christmas and what would the festive season be without some recognition of the best of 2021? Over the next week we’ll shortlist five nominees in each of 15 categories for our Oscars, or monstas if you will, of 2021.

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THEATRE REVIEW: Blithe Spirit starring Jennifer Saunders at Harold Pinter Theatre

WORTH A LOOK?: ****

RUNTIME: 140 minutes (including 20-minute interval)

WHEN?: Matinee Saturday 18 September, booking to 6 November 2021

The last time we saw Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit the part of clairvoyant Madame Arcati was played by the late great Peggy Mount at Guildford’s Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in 1989.

  • Read on for reasons including how Absolutely Fabulous star Jennifer Saunders plays the Mme Arcati role
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9 reasons why we can’t wait for September starring The Normal Heart (2021)

  1. The Normal Heart beats at the National

This revival of Larry Kramer’s play about the American AIDS crisis is timed beautifully after the National’s unforgettable Angels In America in 2017 and Channel 4’s It’s A Sin earlier this year. Starring Ben Daniels we’re excited for the return of monsta winner Daniel Monks (Teenage Dick, Donmar), director Dominic Cooke (Follies, National) and Dino Fetscher (Torch Song, Turbine Theatre). Runs 23 September to 6 November 2021. Tickets

  • Read on for reasons including Saoirse Ronan’s London stage debut, Jennifer Saunders, new Blow Monkeys album and Jamie film released finally
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PREVIEW: 9 reasons why we can’t wait for October 2020 starring Death of England: Delroy

  1. National Theatre returns with Death of England: Delroy

Death of Englandwritten by Clint Dyer and Roy Williams, boasted one of the most accomplished leading roles of the year as well as being one of 2020’s best new playsDeath of England: Delroy has the same authors as its near namesake and stars one of the characters mentioned in the previous work and played by Giles Terera (Rosmersholm, Duke Of Yorks). The National has closed its doors since March and this is the show it has chosen for curtain up, running 21/10 through 28/11/20. Tickets

STOP PRESS: National Theatre announces Terera will no longer perform after emergency surgery and understudy Michael Balogun will take on the role.

  • Read on for reasons including Divine Comedy, Mel C album and Bananarama book

2. Annie releases Dark Hearts album

We’ve heard 4 of the 13 tracks on the Norwegian’s 1st album for 11 years and The Streets Where I Belong (listen above) is our favourite: a soft vocal reminding of St Etienne and a gorgeously understated tune evoking nostalgia while weaving a story of hometown glory. The title track was a Song Of The Week for us in September and the album is out 16/10/20. Tickets

3. Divine Comedy play the Barbican

Divine Comedy won our Best Gig monsta last year and release 12 2CD collection Venus, Folly and Time to celebrate their 30-year back catalogue 9/10/20. They play a gig at the Barbican 5 days later which will be live-streamed ahead of a rescheduled run of 5 nights at the venue in September 2021 at which they play 2 different albums in full each night. Tickets

4. Sophie Ellis Bextor serves up Songs From The Kitchen Disco

A Humdrum Mum gave us 5 reasons why we love Sophie Ellis Bextor and on 23/10/20 the star releases her Songs From The Kitchen Disco album which combines her greatest hits with covers she performed on Friday nights during lockdown ahead of a tour next year including dates with Steps. Tickets include a solo London Palladium gig as well as a Steps show at The 02

5. Melanie C releases Colour and Light album

The artist formerly known as Sporty Spice unleashed her 8th solo album Colour and Light on 2/10 and we previewed it thanks to a fun livestream the night ahead of release. Tickets are now on sale for her 2021 tour including a gig at London’s 02 Shepherds Bush Empire

6. Bananarama release Really Saying Something book

The ‘Nanas won our Best Gig monsta in 2017 when their original line-up reunited and Siobhan left afterwards as Keren and Sara recorded a new album and toured with a Q&A thrown in. On 29/10/20 book Really Saying Something: Sara & Keren Our Story is released and we can’t wait. Details

7. French and Saunders star in Death On The Nile film

We’ve seen so much French and Saunders over the years that it’s impossible to see Dawn and Jennifer in this trailer without thinking of the over enthusiastic extras they used to portray in that series. Released in the UK 16/10/20, Wonder Woman Gadot looks stunning in this remake of the Agatha Christie classic directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh as Poirot. The impressive supporting cast includes monstagigz favourites Sophie Okonedoand Letitia Wright.

8. T’Shan Williams and Aimie Atkinson play Theatre Cafe Night Caps series

The Turbine Theatre‘s artistic director Paul Taylor-Mills hosts this series of performances titled Night Caps in association with the Theatre Cafe by West End stars including T’Shan Williams (Heathers, Other Palace) on the 8/10 and Aimie Atkinson (Pretty Woman, Piccadilly Theatre) on the 22/10. Tickets

9. Rupert Everett’s Tainted Glory book

Everett starred in, wrote and directed The Happy Prince which won our 2018 Best Film monsta and this highly anticipated third memoir, To The End Of The World: Travels With Oscar Wilde: Tainted Glory tells the story of the playwright’s last days, and how that ten-year quest to make The Happy Prince almost destroyed Everett. We’ve always enjoyed Everett’s writing and his first memoir, Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins, was a Sunday Times bestseller while its sequel, Vanished Years, won the Sheridan Morley Prize for Biography. Published 8/10/20

  • Picture courtesy of National Theatre via Facebook 
  • Have you seen any of these shows or films or heard the albums or read the books? Let us know what you thought in the comments below

PREVIEW: 9 reasons why we can’t/couldn’t wait for April 2020 starring Dua Lipa

  1. Dua Lipa releases Future Nostalgia LP

Lipa makes the leap from theatres to arenas with the release of this second LP out 3/4/20 although it was actually brought forward a week after it leaked. Her May gigs at London’s O2 have been rescheduled. Tickets The album is very well named as the 11-song collection weaves 80s hooks into radio-friendly dance floor classics. The sound of a coronavirus-beating summer perhaps? Current single Physical is available to watch below.

  • Read on for reasons including Lady Gaga, Rumer, Jennifer Saunders, Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Alphabeat

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THEATRE REVIEW: Lady Windermere’s Fan starring Samantha Spiro & Jennifer Saunders

27021626_1877741935629590_7411497794088132909_oWORTH A LOOK?: ****

WHERE: Vaudeville Theatre

WHEN: 12/1, press night 22/1, runs to 7/4

Director Kathy Burke has written a song called Keep Your Hands Off which is sung by Jennifer Saunders (pictured centre above), accompanied by members of the cast on instruments, as a distraction as the scenery is shifted during this comedy’s second act.

  • Read on for reasons including why Jennifer Saunders is the funniest thing in this fine comedy

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PREVIEW: 9 reasons why we can’t wait for January

  1. Lady Windermere’s Fan opens starring Jennifer Saunders

Kathy Burke (whose The Retreat at the Park Theatre earlier this year was lots of fun) directs Jennifer Saunders in this Oscar Wilde play for Dominic Dromgoole’s Classic Spring theatre company as a follow-up to his delightful A Woman Of No Importance. Runs 12/1 to 7/4 at the Vaudeville Theatre. Tickets

  • Read on for reasons including Ben Whishaw in Julius Caesar and both Julie Walters and Zawe Ashton at the Old Vic

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