The Show Must Go Online: Groundlings’ Choice Awards 2021

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To celebrate their first birthday, The Show Must Go Online held the inaugural Groundlings’ Choice Awards last night. It’s hard to believe that it has been a year since that kiss in The Two Gentlemen of Verona – and most of us were probably convinced that things would go back to some semblance of normality before the team had even got halfway through the First Folio, let alone have time to do spin-off Pop Shakespeare shows in between the main Shakespeare productions and come back for more once the canon was done & dusted in November 2020. It certainly went on longer than I was able to keep up with my write-ups; the government has been unconcerned about office workers catching and/or spreading COVID since about June 2020, so I’ve had to balance long bus commutes with everything else from September onwards.

It’s truly amazing to see how the idea has grown since Rob’s initial tweet & the first reading. Props & costumes have become more elaborate, music & sound have come on leaps & bounds, and the team has expanded; it’s testament to the forward-planning and commitment of Rob & Sarah that a team of collaborators was steadily built up during the First Folio months, enabling them to take a backseat as well as provide opportunities for a range of different voices to be heard. Not to mention bringing a new groundling into the world!

Our hosts for the evening were none other than Matthew Rhodes (assistant producer & alumnus) and Ruth Page (social media manager & alumna) – plus a selection of wonderful guest presenters got their time in the spotlight through the course of the ceremony…

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The Groundlings’ Choice Award

Outstanding guest speaker
Dr Ruben Espinosa – The Tempest
Dr David Sterling Brown – Hamlet
Dr Varsha Panjwani – Antony & Cleopatra
Dr Hailey Bachrach – Richard II

Winner: Dr Varsha Panjwani – Antony & Cleopatra

Outstanding prop
Fluellen’s leek – Roanna Lewis (Henry V)
Painting of Timon – Michael A. Lake (Timon of Athens)
Stephen Leask’s mattress – Stephen Leask (multiple productions)
Antipholus of Syracuse’s giant sword – Robbie Capaldi (The Comedy of Errors)

Winner: Stephen Leask’s mattress – Stephen Leask (multiple productions)

Outstanding performance in a Pop Shakespeare show
Jeffrey Weissman – Doc Brown (Get Thee Back To The Future)
Victoria Rae Rook – Cher (The Taming of the Clueless)
Dominic Brewer – C3P0 (Shakespeare’s Star Wars)
Wendy Morgan – Ebenezer Scrooge (Ian Doescher’s A Christmas Carol)

Winner: Dominic Brewer – C3P0 (Shakespeare’s Star Wars)

Outstanding death
“Exit, pursued by a bear” – Danann McAleer (The Winter’s Tale)
The stabbing of Caesar – The cast of Julius Caesar
Death of Cinna the Poet – Corinna Brown & Kit Brenson (Julius Caesar)
Drowing of Clarence – Yolanda Ovide, Dominic Brewer, Yarit Dor & Patrick McHugh (Richard III)

Winner: Drowing of Clarence – Yolanda Ovide, Dominic Brewer, Yarit Dor & Patrick McHugh (Richard III)

Outstanding performance in an ensemble role (History)
Georgia Andrews – Richard II
Patrick McHugh – Henry VI, Part II
Constanza Ruff – Henry V
Meg Hodgson – Richard III

Winner: Georgia Andrews – Richard II

Outstanding performance in a principal role (History)
Karim Hadaya – Hubert de Burgh (King John)
Wendy Morgan – Queen Margaret (Richard III)
Doireann May White – Jack Cade (Henry VI, Part II)
Sally McLean – Queen Katherine (Henry VIII)

Winner: Wendy Morgan – Queen Margaret (Richard III)

Outstanding performance in a leading role (History)
Tanvi Virmani – Prince Hal (Henry IV, Part II)
Ruth Page – Henry V (Henry V)
Alice Merivale – Chorus (Henry V)
Ashley Byam – Richard III (Richard III)

Winner: Ruth Page – Henry V (Henry V)

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Outstanding performance in a Pop Shakespeare show

Outstanding music & sound
Swachata Guha Mallik – Boy’s Song (Measure for Measure)
Stephen Leask – singing & songwriting (Love’s Labour’s Lost)
Adam Woodhams – Shakespeare’s Star Wars soundtrack
Adam Gibson & musicians – The Tempest soundtrack

Winner: Adam Gibson & musicians – The Tempest soundtrack

Outstanding exit
Falstaff in the basket – Robert Lightfoot (The Merry Wives of Windsor)
Regina George hit by the carriage – Sara Hymes (Much Ado About Mean Girls)
Walking into the doorframe – Louise Lee (The Merchant of Venice)
Retreating up the stairs – Ian Doescher (Shakespeare’s Star Wars)

Winner: Retreating up the stairs – Ian Doescher (Shakespeare’s Star Wars)

Outstanding performance in an ensemble role (Comedy)
Yolanda Ovide – The Taming of the Shrew
Louise Lee – Pericles
Eugenia Low – The Merry Wives of Windsor
Luke Heys – As You Like It

Winner: Eugenia Low – The Merry Wives of Windsor

Outstanding performance in a principal role (Comedy)
Betsy Bowman – Ariel (The Tempest)
Tiffany Abercrombie – Trinculo (The Tempest)
Giulia Rose – Perdita (The Winter’s Tale)
Stephen Leask – Autolycus (The Winter’s Tale)

Winner: Betsy Bowman – Ariel (The Tempest)

Outstanding performance in a leading role (Comedy)
Amelia Parillon – Isabella (Measure for Measure)
Luke Barton – Proteus (The Two Gentlemen of Verona)
Miguel Perez – Petruchio (The Taming of the Shrew)
Phoebe Elliott – Rosalind (As You Like It)

Winner: Phoebe Elliott – Rosalind (As You Like It)

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Outstanding contribution by a groundling

Most poig moment
Pisanio stays loyal to Imogen – Misha McCullagh (Cymbeline)
Cleopatra’s death – Debra Ann Byrd (Antony & Cleopatra)
Pericles reunites with Marina – Gabriel Akamo & Maya Cohen (Pericles)
The ring passing ceremony – The Tempest

Winner: The ring passing ceremony – The Tempest

Outstanding comedy moment
The Prince of Aragon – Robbie Capaldi (The Merchant of Venice)
Egyptian messenger scene – Andrew Pawarroo (Antony & Cleopatra)
The lovers’ quarrel – MJ Lee, Hannah Ellis, Emilio Vieira & Cameron Varner (A Midsummer Night’s Dream)
The Mechanicals – Andrew Yabroff, Harry Boyd, Mark McMinn, Corinna Brown, Gabrielle Sheppard & Rob Myles (A Midsummer Night’s Dream)

Winner: The Mechanicals – Andrew Yabroff, Harry Boyd, Mark McMinn, Corinna Brown, Gabrielle Sheppard & Rob Myles (A Midsummer Night’s Dream)

Outstanding fight
Wrestling match – Luke Heys & Michael Ahomka-Lindsay (As You Like It)
Fight to the death – Louise Lee, Georgia Andrews, Liza Graham, Lauren Ash-Morgan & Alec Bennie (Richard II)
Coriolanus vs. Tullus Aufidius – Janet Lawson & Toni Benedetti-Martin (Coriolanus)
Kate vs. Petruchio – Yarit Dor & Enric Ortuño (The Taming of the Shrew)

Winner: Wrestling match – Luke Heys & Michael Ahomka-Lindsay (As You Like It)

Outstanding performance in an ensemble role (Tragedy)
Nat Kennedy – Macbeth
Will Block – Hamlet
Shamiso Mushambi – Othello
Pedro Santos – Hamlet

Winner: Nat Kennedy – Macbeth

Outstanding performance in a principal role (Tragedy)
Tom Vanson – Mark Antony (Julius Caesar)
Emilio Vieira – Horatio (Hamlet)
Alex Andlau – Desdemona (Othello)
Honey Gabriel – Sextus Pompeius (Antony & Cleopatra)

Winner: Alex Andlau – Desdemona (Othello)

Outstanding performance in a leading role (Tragedy)
Maryam Grace – Macbeth (Macbeth)
Kristin Atherton – Hamlet (Hamlet)
Esmonde Cole – Othello (Othello)
Debra Ann Byrd – Cleopatra (Antony & Cleopatra)

Winner: Kristin Atherton – Hamlet (Hamlet)

Outstanding costume
Snout as Wall – Mark McMinn (A Midsummer Night’s Dream)
Lewis the Dauphin’s armour – Jamey Grisham (King John)
Betsy Bowman – Ariel (The Tempest)
Three Witches – Jenny Lu, Rebecca Brincat & Dana Demsko (Macbeth)

Winner: Three Witches – Jenny Lu, Rebecca Brincat & Dana Demsko (Macbeth)

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Outstanding make-up
Eugenia Low – R2D2 (Shakespeare’s Star Wars)
Zoë Land – Thersites (Troilus and Cressida)
Kristin Atherton – Hamlet (Hamlet)
Michael Ahomka-Lindsay – Edgar (King Lear)

Winner: Eugenia Low – R2D2 (Shakespeare’s Star Wars)

Outstanding contribution by a groundling
Annabelle Higgins – fan art
Eugenia Low – creation of ‘poig’
Carly Sponzo – fan art
Ian Doescher – writing sonnets, raps & musical parodies

Winner: Carly Sponzo – fan art

Outstanding innovation/special effects
Princess Leia’s hologram – Tiffany Abercrombie (Shakespeare’s Star Wars)
Fire dancing harpy – Betsy Bowman (The Tempest)
Jupiter on an eagle with lightning – Comfort Fabian (Cymbeline)
The chest scene – Robbie Capaldi (Cymbeline)

Winner: Princess Leia’s hologram – Tiffany Abercrombie (Shakespeare’s Star Wars)

Outstanding animal appearance
Ducklings – Love’s Labour’s Lost
Hannah Ellis’ cat, Gloria – The Merchant of Venice
Cat goats – As You Like It
Lucy Aarden’s dog, Bear – The Two Gentlemen of Verona

Winner: Ducklings – Love’s Labour’s Lost

Outstanding swing save
Kate Roche – A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Gareth Turkington & Eliza Jane Gilroy – Cymbeline
Michelle Kelly – Antony & Cleopatra
Danann McAleer – Titus Andronicus

Winner: Michelle Kelly – Antony & Cleopatra

Groundlings’ favourite TSMGO production
The Winter’s Tale
Hamlet
Othello
The Tempest

Winner: Hamlet

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I’ll admit, when I saw the list of awards I thought we would be in for a loooong night, but TSMGO once again set a great example to film, TV and theatre industries: the whole ceremony (including a 10-minute interval) was done & dusted in just over 90 minutes. But let’s be honest – this was always going to be a more fun awards ceremony than most! Some classic prop-passing to create unique awards, great groundling natter (though my contributions weren’t exactly the most articulate), a mini virtual graduation ceremony, and a few words on “identity conscious casting” from alumnus Elliott Bornemann, who runs a YouTube series called Hakuna MaChatter (dedicated to discussing diversity in film & TV). The latter was a nice way to give TSMGO’s casting directors due credit for their approach, and championing the ‘new normal’ rather than the TSMGO way being out of the ordinary.

Next up for The Show Must Go Online is a production of John Lyly’s Gallathea, directed by Rachel Chung and featuring a majority LGBTQIA+ cast – this will take place on Wednesday 21 April 2021 at 7pm, and ticket information will be released soon.


The TSMGO 2021 Groundlings’ Choice Awards ceremony was broadcast on 19 March 2021. The Show Must Go Online First Folio series is available to watch for free on YouTube. Become a Patron at The Show Must Go Online’s Patreon page. The Show Must Go Online merchandise is available from Redbubble.

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