“And the winner is…”

This time last week, a group of Afternooners (myself included, of course) was at the Prince of Wales Theatre in the heart of London’s Theatreland for the Miss Saigon Awards. Oops, sorry, slip of the tongue: the WhatsOnStage Awards. 😉

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The show we were going to support has one of the smallest fan communities, so the chances of winning in either nominated category were slim, but we remained hopeful. The beautiful Waterloo sunset that afternoon was enough to keep my spirits up:

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We all met at our ‘local’, as we all had to go our separate ways inside the theatre (kind of like Sunny Afternoon sleeper cells, armed only with flags and loud woops…).

It was a bit odd. Very busy on the way in (side entrance, of course!), with the possibility of rubbing shoulders with the great and the good of Theatreland. Some people dressed quite casually, others dressed to the nines… I’m not great at the whole ‘dressing up’ thing, but hopefully I was somewhere in between!

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When I booked my ticket the website warned me that I wouldn’t like it if I suffered from vertigo – but when I finally got to my seat (so many staircases) it was fine. Properly fine. Quite high up, but not especially steep, and still close enough to be able to see people’s faces onstage. So for £27.25 I think that’s fine!

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I got chatting to the girl sat next to me, who was hoping for a Tom Hiddleston or Richard Armitage win – but other than that she was only keen to experience an awards ceremony, “just like me”. (Sorry, can’t stop quoting Sunny Afternoon!) I warned her that in ‘our’ categories I might get a little loud and/or overexcited, particularly if we managed to beat the odds and get a result out of it. Thankfully she was fine about that!

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So, the show. I didn’t really know what to expect beforehand, other than a big opening number (including ostrich feathers!) from Mel Giedroyc. She and Steve Furst made a fantastic double act as hosts for the evening, the latter playing up his impending unemployment following the closure of Made in Dagenham in April.

There wasn’t long to wait for our first category: Best Supporting Actor in a Musical. I almost shouted myself hoarse when Mel read out George’s name as part of the nominations list, but sadly it wasn’t enough! And the eventual winner, Kwang-Ho Hong (Miss Saigon), seemed a very popular choice in my section of the auditorium…

We didn’t have a running order for the awards, so I spent the rest of the first act on tenterhooks waiting for our second category, but it didn’t come. We did have a certain Mr Hiddleston onstage to accept the Best Play Revival award – and then David Tennant was presented with the Best Actor in a Play prize. No biggie… Possibly not the worthiest winner, from my own experience watching a couple of the other nominees, and critiques from fellow theatregoers, but a fantastic speech on the brilliance of British theatre and the importance of Arts funding in the UK. And the first act closed with ‘Movie in my Mind’ from Miss Saigon; that performance has persuaded me to go and see the show soon.

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One of my favourite moments of the second act (despite the result not going the way I wanted) was Mark Gatiss’ acceptance video for Best Supporting Actor in a Play, replete with roaring log fire and a glass of wine – a stark contrast to Billie Piper’s earlier iPhone clip!

Didn’t have much longer to wait for our second category: Best New Musical. I just about had enough left in my voicebox to scream for Sunny Afternoon (and wave my flag like a loon), but again it wasn’t to be. And Memphis was something else that seemed very popular in my section – I really think I was sat in the wrong place…

And, pretty much, from then on all we heard was “… for Miss Saigon”. I’ve not seen it, so can’t comment on the worthiness of the results – it just made things a tad dull. Despite seeing one particular show almost 50 times, I do like variety. I even found myself saying “what a surprise” at it winning Best Musical Revival.

Hey ho! Pretty much none of the categories went how I wanted them to, but it was a good experience all the same. I’d like to go again, but to sit with friends – I was in the middle of a group of utter luvvies, which got quite annoying at times! Who knows, we may see Sunny Afternoon up there in several more categories next year – Best Musical, maybe? 🙂

As a fan of the show, obviously I wanted to get something out of the night – and actually, whilst we didn’t win anything, the publicity for the show thanks to the nominations can only be a good thing. And it shows our power as a small fan base to get our voices heard!

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