I woke up yesterday morning full of autumnal joys and ready to be boss. Then I read an article that suddenly put my ambitions on hold and it was clear that an article on the same topic needed to be penned by my (not so fair) hand.
The article in question that ignited my response is here if you would like to read it in full and is by Mark Shenton for the Stage http://bit.ly/1L2GM77. To summarize, it questions the credibility of the Evening Standard Radio 2 Audience Award for Best Musical formely known as The Best Musical category which will be voted for by Radio 2 listeners ie the public. This is one award among many, at this annual Theatre Awards. On Twitter, Shenton has put a link to the article describing how “public vote ruins it” referring to the award. You get a very quick picture on how Shenton feels about Public voted awards.
Everyone is entitled to an opinion but perhaps naively I thought we were all on the same page when it came to the audience, whether it’s to our writing, or also in my case my performing. They are vital in fact, in the words of the Janet Jackson Song ‘It’s All For You’. This is definitely the case when it comes to Musical Theatre. Shenton seems to ignore in his article, that like it or not, theatre is made for an audience. Yes he acknowledges that the public have their say by translating their likes or dislikes of a show by purchasing tickets, but they deserve a lot more credit than that.
Radio 2 has for many years now with such shows as Elaine Paige On Sunday (which plays solely musical theatre and film music) and Sunday Night with Michael Ball, projected Musical Theatre to the large audience it knows wants to hear the icons and the music of that genre. It caters simply for what it’s listeners want, The Evening Standard choosing to name it’s award and be voted for by these listeners, is not a big surprise. Many award ceremonies have in the last five years introduced an audience voted award, it is simply listening to an audience in one fell swoop.
If an award is chosen by a panel of critics and creatives does that mean it can be debated by the audience in the same way an audience voted award can be by critics? To this I whole heartedly agree, as it’s all down to opinions, everyone’s differ and there is no wrong or right outcome. It is however wrong to question the credibility and worthiness of that opinion based on the collective who have made it, which is why I felt compelled to write this article in the first instance.
Long live the power source of Theatre..the audience!!