As this theatre blog approaches it’s first anniversary (yes really, already) I was very excited to speak today to the Queen of all theatrebloggers and the West End’s favourite Nana, West End Wilma herself. As she prepares for her second annual ‘Wilma Awards’ which takes place next month at the London Hippodrome I was keen to catch up with Wilma and find out how plans were going.
This is your second awards ceremony what do you think of the calibre of nominees this year?
WEW: I think the calibre is really high this year. The past twelve months have been an amazing time for theatre and I really couldn’t predict any of the winners (although I’ve had a sneaky look at some of the votes so far and I think there will be a few nominees that’ll blow everyone else out of the water)!
Your shortlist is put together by your reviewing team, how do they all agree who gets put forward if they have all seen different things? What is your system?
WEW: Last year we all met up (well as many as possible) over a glass of wine to discuss what we had seen, and battled out the shortlist together. This year I just asked my team to send me their suggestions and I created a long list of everything suggested. I then looked to see if multiple people had suggested the same nominees or if a few people had really expressed a passion for particular acts and took everything into consideration. Ultimately I whittled the final three for each category down myself.
Is there any other person or show you would have like on the list?
WEW : Wow, yes! There were about 30 nominees for each category and some of them were tough to cut. The Off West End show category was particularly tough with amazing shows like ‘Into The Woods’ and ‘The Baker’s Wife’ to consider. The Best Actress nominees were incredibly hard too with the likes of Imelda Staunton, Bonnie Langford and Julie Atherton all doing cracking work this year.
The awards take place at the London Hippodrome ont he 30th October. What preparations need to be in place?
WEW: I’m trying to figure that all out now and am having sleepless nights. Photographer, Musical Director, performers, rehearsals, introductions, food, drink, table plan, press boards, the actual awards, the guest list! The list just never ends but I am sure it will all be alright on the night (afternoon).
Do you like being on stage yourself or do you get nervous about the ceremony?
WEW : Last year I wasn’t really on stage myself. I’m not sure whether I will be or not this year but I tend to leave it to the professionals! The nerves for me are in the preparations. If I do my job properly then everything should run like clockwork so by the time it happens I will just be running around with a glass of wine and my new selfie stick!
You have an excellent rapport with host and MC Tim McArthur, how did you meet and what makes your friendship so special?
I did an interview with Tim about three years ago about his theatre radio show ‘The Curtain Up Show’ and we just hit it off. We are both usually at the theatre most nights and so we became ‘6pm friends’ where we would meet for a drink before going off to whatever shows we were seeing. He is probably the closest friend I have made in the theatre industry and I know the awards are in great hands with him as the host.
How do you find the energy being an OAP to gallivant round theatreland each night?
WEW : I’m not quite an OAP. The Sun quoted me as being 63 so I’m sticking with that! It’s so much fun and I am so lucky to get invited to so many shows and great events for free that I think you just get the energy naturally. Especially as you get older in life I think you learn to grab every opportunity by the horns and enjoy every moment.
If you could be a West End star what role would you love to play?
WEW: I’d love to be Momma Rose in Gypsy (who wouldn’t). I would also love to play Nessa Rose in Wicked. Although she doesn’t get a great deal to sing, I think her parts are the best in the show. Plus she gets to sit down and drink tea for most of it!
You won the ticketmaster blog of the year award in 2014. What was it like winning an award yourself?
WEW : Being nominated was an incredible feeling. I still have no idea how it happened but it was lovely to feel my hard work had been recognised. I really didn’t think I would win. You can tell I was shocked my name was read out! I think winning that inspired me to do the Wilma Awards because I know how much joy even a nomination can bring to someone.
I voted this evening – there are some fabulous nominees, who would you be most excited to meet and why?
WEW : Well I’m not sure who will turn up out of all the nominees yet! I’m lucky enough to have met a lot of them already. Frances Ruffelle I’ve never met so that would be nice, I love Jenna Russell but we’ve not met before and If Imelda Staunton walked through the door I don’t think I could cope!
I for one am very excited about this year’s Wilma’s Awards which will take place on Friday 30th October at the London Palladium there a limited of tickets available to the general public at £20 each from xx
Click here to vote now!