As the 2008 Edinburgh Fringe enters its third and final week, nominations have been announced in several of the festivals key prize-givings this weekend.


2008 MTM:UK Awards

In the second annual musical theatre awards at the Fringe, two productions dominate the shortlists: Dougal Irvine’s Departure Lounge (pictured) and Chris Larner’s On the Island of Aars, both of which were nominated in all five of the awards’ categories. The high-profile premiere of Matthew Brind’s Only the Brave, starring reality TV stars Keith Jack and Niamh Perry, competes with them in two categories: Most Promising New Musical and Best Music.

Venue-wise, the 19 nominations were divided between just two of the Fringe’s 247 venues: the festival’s first-ever dedicated musical venue, the Musical Theatre @ George Square (with ten) and its parent, the Pleasance (with nine).

In announcing the MTM:UK (Musical Theatre Matters:UK) Awards, co chair Dr Nick Phillips commented: “When considering the selection of nominated musicals in our five categories, we started from the basis that musical theatre can be viewed in terms of the noun ‘theatre’ and the adjective ‘musical’ to describe shows which focus on character in action expressed through song and/or dance. Rather than being a simple escape, it is perhaps the most complex form of theatrical synthesis and hence why so much of it fails to reach the aspirations of this most complex of forms.

“In addition we wanted to measure the relative success of how a show balances the demands of inner dramatic tension with overt theatricality and convention. It has been particularly interesting to note the strength of musical comedy this year in the 49 shows viewed, in particular aspirations to lyrical wit, and this is reflected in the nominations.”

To view the full MTM:UK Awards shortlists, click here.


The Stage Awards for Acting Excellence

In The Stage newspaper’s awards for acting excellence at the Fringe, the surprise winner – in terms of number of nominations – is a venue, the Underbelly. The venue, best known for its comedy programme, has never topped the shortlists before, but has this year garnered a total of seven nominations, well ahead of traditional theatrical frontrunners, the Traverse, Pleasance (with five apiece) and Assembly (with six).

Production-wise, Sherman Cymru’s verbatim drama Deep Cut at the Traverse leads with three nominations, including Best Actor (Ciaran McIntyre) and a head-to-head for Best Actress (Rhian Morgan and Rhian Blythe).

Meanwhile, Steven Berkoff’s adaptation of On the Waterfront, which is tipped for a London transfer, is in the running for both Best Actor (Simon Merrells, taking on the part of Terry Malloy, immortalised on screen by Marlon Brando) and Best Ensemble. The Stage Awards for Excellence are now in their 14th year at the Edinburgh Fringe.

To view the full Stage Awards for Acting Excellence shortlists, click here.


Total Theatre Awards

Last but not least, the Total Theatre Awards – which celebrates groundbreaking visual and physical performance – have singled out a number of cross-venue productions for awards consideration, including The Factory, The Office Party, Architecting, In a Thousand Pieces and the 30th birthday bash of Circus Oz.

The Total Theatre Awards were established in 1997 to recognise those “pushing at the boundaries of traditional theatre” at the festival. Awards supporters include barbicanbite08, the London International Mime Festival and the Central School of Speech and Drama.

To view the full Total Theatre Awards shortlists, click here.