2017 Roundup –
Best West End Musical….Hamilton
There has been an insane amount of hype surrounding Hamilton and I was afraid it wouldn’t live up to it’s hype however I needn’t have worried and if I was able to give it 6 stars I would have. I was lucky enough to have secured tickets during previews and following seeing it I had to book again when more were relesed for press night. Seeing a show twice in 7 days is a big accolade for me as I normally prefer to see different things rather than the same show, but for a show like Hamilton I had to make an exception.
My summary read:
Opening night of Hamilton however proved that the show is more than just hype – it has style, substance and staying power. Above all this, a show set in America’s history books is relevant to the UK today.
Read the full review here….Hamilton Review.
Runner Up – Half A Sixpence.
Notable Mention – 42nd Street
Best West End Play….Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a stunning piece of theatre and one I am desperate for a revisit to occur in 2018. Unfortunately I saw Harry Potter and the Cursed Child during a rather manic period and didn’t write up a formal review however I can recommend my good friend and fellow bloggers review, ‘Rochelle Balboa.’
Runner Up – The Ferryman
Best Fringe Musical….Lizzie
Lizzie played at Greenwich Theatre and is a show that may have slipped past some people….unlucky for them I say. Based on the true story of Lizzie Boden who, in 1892, was accused of killing her father and step-mother….with an axe. Lizzie became a media sensation and the killing, stuff of American legend.
This show was begging for a rare 5 star review with everything from the cast with insane rock vocals, to interesting themes woven throughout the show. To sum up and quote directly from my review:
This is not a show that everyone will enjoy but one that I urge everyone to experience. The talent of the 4 powerhouse women, the blistering score and beautifully simplistic setting makes it a night out to the theatre to die for!
Read the Full Review here…Lizzie
Runner Up – Toxic Avenger
Notable Mention – 5 Guys Named Moe
Best Fringe Play….Hir at the Bush Theatre
I’ve awarded best fringe play to Hir as it felt like pieces such as Hir is what theatre should try to do more -both challenge and educate. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, Hir is a gender neutral pronoun, used in place of him or her. Hir not only dealt with gender issues from a transgender point of view but also looked at domestic patriarchy, emasculation and what it means to be masculine and feminine. Hir had a lot to take in and was a fascinating barrage of information yet uncomfortable watching at times.
In summary in my review I stated: “Hir is a clever, thought provoking and often mind boggling piece of theatre and one that I urge those that enjoy challenging conventional thinking or rebelling against the status quo to see.”
Read the full review here… Hir
Best New Musical….Miss Nightingale
Arguably Miss Nightingale should have been a contender for this category last year as it first graced our stages in 2016. I was lucky enough to see it at The Vaults in April 2017. Not only is it a new musical but it is also British and we have to support home grown talent.
Miss Nightingale tells of Sir Frank Worthington-Blythe who is opening a new club in London and is looking for a new act. Maggie Brown, shortly renamed Miss Nightingale is introduced to Frank and is hired instantly, along with writer George. Miss Nightingale soon gets caught between the 2 men in her life as George and Frank fall for each other all during a time where society refuses to recognise their love.
My review summed up Miss Nightingale as follows:
Miss Nightingale cleverly strikes the balance between a serious topic wrapped up and made more lighthearted by the innuendo filled cabaret numbers. If you want to both laugh and have your heart broken all in one show then I recommend you get yourself down to the Vaults to see Miss Nightingale.
Read the full review here…Miss Nightingale
Best Amateur Production…Little Women by SEDOS
My regular readers may know I am a huge advocate of amateur theatre and throughout the year I not only supported friends in numerous amateur shows but I directed an amateur production of Legally Blonde (check out my article on working with the dogs!) and appeared in another 2 amateur shows. I am lucky enough to be asked to review by several local groups including SEDOS, GEOIDS, PLOS and Cygnet Players- all remarkably talented groups. Narrowing it down to my favourite amateur show was therefore remarkably hard however I finally managed to settle on Little Women by SEDOS.
Little Women was a show I had never seen before but one I had been dying to see. It also features the beautiful song ‘Astonishing’ so to finally be able to put this into context was a huge plus. Whilst I discovered that the piece itself wasn’t one I would rush back to see the combination of the beautiful set design for SEDOS’ production, the sheer talent of those playing the March sisters and the clever direction means that I took this award.
Read the full review here….Little Women
Runner Up – A Chorus Line by GEOIDS
Best Concert/Review Show….Willemijn Verkaik
For those of you that don’t know who Willemijn she is best described as a multi lingual Elphaba having appeared in not only the Broadway and West End productions of Wicked but also the Dutch and German tour. Oh and there is also the little matter of her being the voice of Dutch Elsa!
In the concert not only were we treated to some classic musical theatre songs but also some of her own writing and a host of special guests, including the incredible Tyrone Huntley. Undeniably though the evening was a very special one, even if you took away from it just being able to hear her sing Defying Gravity and Let It Go live.
Read the full review here….Willemijn Verkaik
Best Touring Show….Cilla
Cilla saw my first trip to New Wimbledon theatre as a blogger. The jukebox musical not only features songs by Cilla Black but also by other artists from the era. Whilst the show could do with a trim and a tighter focus on the storyline there was no denying Kara Hayworth’s incredible voice and the musical talent on the stage.
Read the Full review here…. Cilla
Runner up – The Wedding Singer
Best Theatre ….The Other Palace
I’ve seen a fair amount of theatre at the Other Palace this year, from Big Fish to 35mm, a Musical Exhibition. Earlier in the year I wrote a piece on the Other Palace and in particular on The Work in Progress season there. I saw both Heathers and Bonnie & Clyde as part of this season and loved them both. Me loving them however is slightly beside the point and the fact that there is now a space in London where new musical theatre can be tried out without the huge budgets that opening shows on the West End needs is exactly what is needed.
Oh and the fact that The Other Palace’s bar is called the Gin Palace makes me love the theatre that little bit more.
Most read Review…. Son of A Preacher Man
Out of interest I thought I would include my most read review…..instinct would probably point you towards one of my 5 star reviews as these tend to get shared more by those involved in the show…..however not in this case.
Son of A Preacher Man was a 2 star review and I shall let my review do the talking – “a show that needs development on many fronts from the plot to the script. Whilst Diana Vickers helps salvage the show she is only due to play the role until the end of the year when someone else takes over for the 2018 part of the tour. I would be interested to see if the show develops on the tour but it would need a large rewrite which probably isn’t viable whilst the show is in the throws of a national tour. Unfortunately this is one that not even Dusty’s music can save.”
It just goes to show that the readers prefer honesty!!!
Well what a year 2017 has been….at the start of the year I didn’t expect to have seen so many theatrical highlights and so many 5 star shows. Last year I only awarded 2 5 star reviews but this year 5 star reviews were given to Hamilton, Lizzie, Toxic Avengers, Five Guys Named Moe, Kinky Boots (which I reviewed the new cast in this year for Seatplan) Matilda, Half A Sixpence and 42nd Street on the blog – a total of 9 which is a record for me! I just hope 2018 is as kind to me theatrically as 2017 was!!