Guidance for Offies Assessors – Musicals

MUSICALS: New Musical / Production

New Musical

Firstly, ascertain if the show is a New Musical or not – you may need to research this yourself. Read the programme notes (or the theatre/production website carefully) to make sure of this fact.

Is this the first time that a show is being presented in London – and if it is, be it either new writing, or, for example, a Broadway import that’s 20 years old, but only now making its London premiere, then it is eligible for New Musical. Obviously a revival of Carousel or Starlight Express will not qualify – But there are some surprising discoveries, often from some of the most famous writers (cf Allegro and The Life a few years ago) where the show has not yet reached London.

Then, of course, consider carefully all the criteria outlined below for Musical Production.

But then think deeper, and with an even more open mind.

New writing

Is the show evidence of fine new writing that really impresses, but that still contains some rough edges, perhaps to its book or song list? Such flaws would clearly exclude it from being a Musical Production nomination, but if you believe the writers and creatives are truly on to “something special” then it may well be a worthy contender for a New Musical nomination.

Old show making its London debut

Did the show flop on Broadway – but nonetheless its London producers want to make the effort for the sake of the genre of giving it a London outing. It may be a particularly quirky subject (consider here Dogfight or Grey Gardens, both staged at the Southwark Playhouse in recent years) , that might possibly be a million miles away from being a BMP, but nonetheless impresses you with the panache and flair by which the cast and creatives have brought it to life.

Think hard before nominating a New Musical

If you are suitably impressed that a NEW MUSICAL qualifies as a best MUSICAL PRODUCTION, then you should probably nominate for both categories. It could look odd if a New Musical were to win Musical Production whilst another New Musical were to win in that category.

Musical Production

This award needs to look at the structure of the show from the following criteria.

Its underlying story or narrative (often referred to as the Book)

Is the book clever, engaging, witty, provocative, imaginative or in any other way impressive?

The quality of the lyrics

Consider here the poetry of the text that the lyricist has written, as well as the wit/humour/irony/pathos that may have been imbued in the lyrics.

The quality of the score

Did the music move you? Were there particularly soaring belted-out numbers? Was there a passionate 11 o’clock number perhaps? Did the melodies contribute to the narrative?

  • Was there a range of tunes and styles on display?
  • If the show is little more than an introspective ballad-fest, however moving the lyrical content may be, it may well be an unlikely contender for BMP.

The quality of the acting performances

Did the respective acting leads and their supports stand out in their driving of the narrative and in their song and dance?  The performances need to sizzle throughout the company to justify a BMP. Note that individual Acting nominations may not necessarily arise – particularly if you found that the tightness of the troupe served to create an outstanding effect.

The quality of the other creatives

Consider (and refer to the guidance in this document) the input from the show’s other creative contributors:

  • Director
  • Design
  • Costume
  • Lighting
  • Sound
  • Choreography

The above should all feature in your overall assessment for this category. If, for example, the performances were outstanding but say the sound was inaudible or the choreography clumsy, then the BMP award is unlikely to be deserved.

The WOW factor

Did the show leave you emotionally moved by curtain-fall? That emotion may be one of happiness, laughter, enlightenment or deeply moving tragedy. There is no golden rule here. If, for whatever (good) reason the show left you stunned and profoundly impressed, then think carefully about awarding a BMP nomination.