Sheila Hancock Announced Winner for Theatre Book Prize

Thesps, academics, publishers and writers rubbed shoulders in the Grand Saloon at Drury Lane this morning as they gathered to discover the winner of this year’s Theatre Book Prize, awarded annually by the Society for Theatre Research.

Books ranged from the biography of magician David Dixon to academic writing about walking as performance with some heavy contenders among a short list that included a biography of the clown Grimaldi, a book of essays covering every aspect of Early Modern English theatre, a critique of and guide to the writing of theatre history, a history of ENO and a biography of dancer and choreographer Kenneth MacMillan.

Not even the judges knew the winner, for at their last meeting there was no clear victor. A final individual ballot completed only yesterday determined the result which actress Sheila Hancock (no mean writer herself) eventually revealed as giving the laurels to Different Drummer: the Life of Kenneth MacMillan by Jann Parry (published by Faber).

Earlier the judges all got the chance to talk about the short list and others of their favourites, and theatre critic Mark Shenton said of this title:

‘I don’t think I read a more fascinating or more exhaustively researched volume all year than Jann Parry’s Different Drummer, a biography of choreographer Kenneth MacMillan (published by Faber). It is based on countless interviews she conducted as well as access she was given to MacMillan’s personal papers, including his draft memoir and diaries, by MacMillan’s widow Deborah – which she had not herself read. Biography can be an act of remarkable trust, and Deborah MacMillan’s was rewarded with this candid, uncompromising, but loving portrait of a candid, uncompromising and complicated man. He was an intensely private man, and Parry points out that his family found out more about him from his ballets than from conversations at home.  Now, however, we can all have a posthumous conversation with a great man and see the work in the context of who created it. It is a remarkable achievement.’

Jan Parry was dance critic of the Observer from 1983 to 2004 and has written for many other puiblications.

The judges were Professor Jane Moody of York University, Mark Shenton critic for the Daily Express and blogger for The Stage, and actor Matthew Kelly chaired by Howard Loxton for the Society for Theatre Research.

The prize is given annually for the best book, published in english during the past year, on the history and technique of British or British-related theatre in all its aspects

For further information see

Sister Act The Musical to close on 1st Jan and Simon Webbe to join Sister Act!

It has been announced that leading international recording artist Simon Webbe is to join the cast of the show on Monday May 31. Simon will play the role of Curtis Shank, the bad-boy lover of the story’s heroine Deloris Van Cartier. Shank’s various job titles include nightclub owner, gangster and love machine!

Producers Whoopi Goldberg and Stage Entertainment have also announced for the closure of Sister Act The Musical on 1st Jan 2011.

Based on the smash-hit movie, Sister Act features a brand new score by 8 time Oscar winner Alan Menken whose credits include Little Shop of Horrors, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid and most recently the hit movie Enchanted.

Patine Miller plays Deloris with Sheila Hancock as the Mother Superior and Ian Lavender as Monsignor Howard.

For tickets, click here

Theatre Book Prize will be announced by Sheila Hancock!

Well-loved actress Sheila Hancock OBE (herself a successful author) will announce the winner of the Theatre Book Prize and make the presentation at a reception at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane on Tuesday 27th April 11.30 am next before an audience drawn from the worlds of theatre, books and academia. 

The judges for the prize: actor Matthew Kelly, critic Mark Shenton, Prof Jane Moody of the University of York and chair Howard Loxton for the Society for Theatre Research, will speak about the short- listed titles and other favourites among submissions.

The short list chosen from theatre books published in 2009 is

The Cambridge Introduction to Theatre Historiography

by Thomas Postlewait (Cambridge University Press)

Different Drummer: the Life of Kenneth Macmillan

by Jann Parry (Faber)

Opera for Everybody:  The Story of English National Opera

by Susie Gilbert (Faber)

The Oxford Handbook of Early Modern Theatre

edited by Richard Dutton (Oxford University Press)

The Pantomime Life of Joseph Grimaldi

by Andrew Stott (Canongate)
The event will be introduced by actor Timothy West CBE

Miss Hancock is currently appearing in Sister Act at the Palladium.