If everyone could please keep the noise down as we don’t want to alert security... First like to thank the goofball who left the toilet window open at the Vaudeville, allowing us to enjoy Nimax hospitality until the alarm’s key-holder is found. Truly one of a kind, no category.
On to present the awards that nobody is waiting for, some beg not to win and most return through the office window at 3am. Still going where polite prizes fear to glitter, let’s get the serious stuff out of the way first.
The Theatremonkey Gold Medal to Disney Theatrical Limited. Over the past year, the monkey has befriended an amazing pair – a lady with a 14-year-old-autistic son whose appreciation for musicals, dance and life in general is beyond most of us. Late in 2022 the son won £200 in a dance contest, and wanted to use it to take his scout pack to the theatre. Many had never been to the theatre before and the entire troupe have access needs, requiring front row seats due to vision, hearing and concentration requirements. Expensive tickets, way beyond a £200 budget. Step forward Disney Theatrical. Front row centre seats for them all, at exactly that price. As they say in that organisation, “Good Mickey,” in fact, the best.
The Theatremonkey Gold Medal to the ushers at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. The monkey first met its new friends there. Sitting on the front row, they were directly behind it. As it arrived, the ushers were telling them “if anyone complains about his behaviour – tell us and we will throw them out!” It offered to help them do that. Of course, the teenager is an experienced theatregoer, behaves better than most people and just adds to the experience for all of us around him.
Incidentally, the pair were with family including a wheelchair user making use of the front row wheelchair spaces. It was noted that this is one of the only venues that person can attend. The girl has poor eyesight due to cystic fibrosis and going to most theatres is impossible as wheelchair places even in row J or so are too far back for her to see. So the front row wheelchair positions are amazing. The monkey is trying to do something about this, and hopes to at some point in the future.
The Theatremonkey Silver Medal to Noma Dumezweni. At a Donmar Warehouse performance of “A Doll’s House, Part 2,” Ms Dumezweni was playing a difficult duologue scene when “The Ride of The Valkyries” broke out from a lady’s phone in the front row. Stifled, it re-started several times.
Eventually, Ms Dumezweni deliberately paused the scene a moment. Instead of going “The Full LuPone” and demanding ejection, she sensed the embarrassment and quietly whispered, “are you OK” to the distressed audience member. On top of a stunning acting performance, a (as reviewer Mark Shenton put so well) “gracious lady” too.
Serious awards over, now on to the moment envelopes open and fur really flies... the Good Monkey stuff...
A Happy Hour (for assisting with the cost of living) to the bar manager at the Peacock Theatre. Ushering staff will not let anyone take a drink from their bar into the auditorium, plastic cup or not. However, the door usher's comment was, "take it back to the bar for a refund"... making a monkey reader wonder how much you could get away with drinking before getting your money back...
A Cut and Blow Dry to the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane Theatre (for essential maintenance) for the plush balustrade across the front of the King’s Grand Box being the hairiest thing the monkey has seen since Uncle Chewbacca’s shower was unclogged. In the stage lights it had to brush them all down as they were glowing like a radioactive forest. Concurrently, a sauna (for warmth) for placing the cast-list board on a TV screen on a pillar OUTSIDE the theatre – taking the “Frozen” theme a little far at winter performances.
The Debra Meaden Green “I’m In” (for recycling) to the audience member at the Gillian Lynne Theatre who used the recess containing the row letter at the end of their row to jam an ice-cream tub lid into, concealing the letter but proving a round lid can fit into a square hole.
A Large Oak Tree (for ‘Best Shade’) to Southwark Playhouse for tweeting that they will be charging £95 for folk to stand outside the theatre and listen to a cast recording of “Anyone Can Whistle” in response to Cameron Mackintosh charging £95 to watch a live stream of “Sondheim Old Friends” at the Prince Edward Theatre in May 2022.
Bialystok and Bloom Auditor (for interesting producing details) to SJM Productions. A messy “Camelot” at the Palladium, blighted by technical and script issues was followed by a very curious problem as they presented “Dr John Cooper Clarke” at the Hammersmith Apollo. The monkey needed to know the event’s start time but could find only a “doors open” note. It emailed SJM for information, only to be told they didn’t know. Yes, they didn’t know the start time of their own show. Luckily, the monkey found the phone number for Hammersmith... who had it all as a recorded message. Next time, it may give the SJM office the phone number...
The Apprentice Pantsman Underwear (for amusing marketing) to the usher selling ice-cream during the interval of the aforementioned “Dr John Cooper Clarke: The I Wanna Be Yours Tour” at the Apollo Hammersmith. Suggestive camp jiggling and pleas to “buy Ben and Jerry’s” were as amusing as the performances on stage. Pure poetry.
The Addam’s Family Lurch (for best appearance by “Thing”) to the stage crew on “Bonnie & Clyde” at the Arts Theatre. Early previews are never easy, but in that confined space they were wonderful – especially the disembodied hand clearing the counter-top just in view of some of us in the audience early in the first act.
A faulty alarm clock (for being accidentally woke) to The Open Air Theatre, Regent’s Park. At the end of “101 Dalmatians”, Cruella de Vil appeared with a prison mugshot sign... labelled “Wormwood Scrubs” – a male prison. The monkey had to check whether the show was making a gender-fluid point or if it was just a boo-boo. Turned out to be the latter. Fun, though it was gone the following night, alas.
A ”Speak and Spell” device (to assist learning) to the programme editors for“Sister Act the Musical” and “Good.” For £10 / £6 respectively, you’d expect the programme writer to be able to spell choreographer and directed, again, respectively.
Concurrently, the Bonnie and Clyde Getaway Car to the props department at “Sister Act The Musical.” That bag you gave the nun wasn’t nearly strong enough to carry the gun around the stage, now was it...
Billingsgate Offcuts (to match stinking behaviour) to the selfish pair of women who argued constantly with the brilliant usher at the London Palladium during “David Essex In Concert.” Remaining in your seats rather than running down to the front of the stage means that you will not be blocking the aisle and will allow others to enjoy the show by being able to see it rather than you horrible people. That you ruined the final concert for one cancer sufferer says it all. The monkey hopes they are proud of themselves.
An Archewell Podcast (to truly understand equality) to the disgustingly prejudiced usher in block A at the O2 Arena in December 2022. Dealing cheerily with the families arriving for “Disney On Ice,” their demeanour changed to hostile judgmentalism when the middle-aged male monkey turned up alone. Ageism and sexism have no part in an usher’s job description, but sadly those who employ staff at the O2 don’t appear to see that. To date, the monkey’s complaint has not been satisfactorily replied to either.
The Trotter bonnet de douche (for physical comedy) to the young barman at the London Palladium on 10th December 2022. A bottle of wine teetered between shelf and fridge door... would it fall if he opened the door... or could he just time it right and... and he did! Concurrently, the Noel Coward smoking jacket to the customer who quipped in throaty chirpy Essex, just as we were all applauding... “no, I didn’t want that one!” After that, frankly, the panto script was a bit of an anti-climax.
Aladdin's Lamp Cork (to keep the genie inside) to the NFL (National Football League). After a particularly gruelling week, the monkey wanted to "get away from it all" and enjoy (as millions of other American Football fans do) a peaceful Sunday afternoon at the ballgame, totally divorced from thoughts of work - particularly West End Theatre. Seated in Wembley Stadium, and asked to stand, "for the National Anthems of the United States of America and the United Kingdom"... it was then a shock to hear, "the Star Spangled Banner will be sung by... West End (don't say it, just don't say it) musical theatre star Trevor Dion Nicholas..." Apparently the monkey howl of distress had to be edited out of the TV broadcast on time delay. Well, honestly, just for once, please...
Niven's Moon Balloon (for most creative autobiography) to Robert Bathurst for an hilarious wry life and career rundown in his entry for the "Dolly Parton's Smoky Mountain Christmas Carol" programme. Almost worth the £7.50 cover price of the thing on its own.
Doc’s DeLorean (for erratic timekeeping) to the couple who turned up 35 minutes late to “One Woman Show.” Thing is, “One Woman Show” only lasts about an hour.
Trump’s Hypodermic (for inadvisable advice) to the Garrick Theatre for leaving a sign from musical “The Drifters Girl” up for the rather more staid “Orlando.” Visitors to the stalls gentlemens’ facilities were informed that they should, "only stand up and sing along at the end when invited to do so"... at the conclusion of this serious and moving dramatic exploration of female rights over 400 years?! Concurrently, a simple warm hug for the most welcoming front-of-house staff the monkey encountered this year – and it was delighted to be able to tell their manager so, and now its readers as well.
Ending on that high note, and as the monkey can hear the sirens, everybody out the back way, quick (and put that crown down). Thanks for attending and congratulations to some of those who won. We must do this again sometime, we really mustn’t.