Every year at this time I love to look back at what I have seen over the year and give a little bit of recognition to the shows I’ve loved. This is the 4th roundup I’ve done so it has even become a bit of a festive tradition for me!! Do let me know if you would like to see any other categories added!
Best West End Musical – Come From Away
I was lucky enough back in 2018 to go to the press launch at Canada House for Come From Away, after attending this and listening to the soundtrack on repeat I was soooo hyped to see the show! In fact I was so excited for it that I brought tickets for previews and then went again on press night! I adore this show as it is such a roller coaster of emotions and just radiates with what the strength of human kindness can do. My review summed this up –
Come From Away is the perfect show for London at this moment in time. When the future looks uncertain for our own country this 100 minutes reminds you of human kindness and how from the darkest of times sometimes light can shine.
It is luckily still running and it is on my list of shows for a repeat visit in 2020.
Read The full review here – Come From Away Review
Runner Up – Mary Poppins
Best Fringe Musical – Curious Incident of Benjamin Button
This was on at Southwark Playhouse in May this year. It is based on the book by F Scott Fitzgerald but made famous by the Brad Pitt movie. This adaptation however is miles away from the Hollywood movie, literally, it is set is Cornwall in, as the producer puts it, ‘A world where folklore and reality intertwine so seamlessly.’ It uses many different means of storytelling and music to depict this story and does so beautifully. I am keeping my fingers crossed that there is life in 2020 for this new musical.
Read The Full Review Here – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Review.
Runner Up – Unfortunate
Best New Musical – The Boy In The Dress
This is the RSC’s latest musical offering, based on the book by David Walliams with music and lyrics by Robbie Williams and Guy Chambers. With a creative team full of starry names it was bound to attract attention however the attention is well deserved. Shows like this really excite me for the future of British Musical Theatre as I explain in my review –
Many theatre goers lament about the lack of British Musicals being developed but in The Boy In The Dress we have another success for British theatre on our hands. Witty, charming and thoroughly British, The Boy In The Dress sparkles on stage as brightly as Dennis’ sequinned dress.
The show is running at the RSC in Stratford Upon Avon until March 2020….fingers crossed for a London transfer after that!
Read The Full Review here – The Boy In The Dress Review.
Runner Up – Tokyo Rose
Best West End Play – Emilia
Emilia succeeded in moving me to tears, not because of sad moments within it but because of the sheer ferocity and passion in the closing speech! This speech was an unsubtle call to arms for all, in particular for women to continue to roar until the message of this show is acted upon. This show made me want to do something and if that isn’t a sign of a good piece of theatre I don’t know what is! Emilia is a new play by Morgan Lloyd Malcolm which is set in the late 1500’s and early 1600’s. It tells of Emilia Bassano who was a writer and passionate advocate of women’s rights. The play follows her throughout her life, including how she became mistress of Henry Carey, her relationship with Shakespeare, the birth of her children and publication of her poetry. The show has now closed but in my opinion it is a show that needs to be seen by all and a play that should be studied at schools!
Read the full review here – Emilia Review.
Runner Up – Ghost Stories
2nd Runner Up – Equus
Best Am Dram Production – Spring Awakening by Cygnet Players
As I am sure many of you know by now but I am a huge fan of amateur theatre. This year I supported over 20 amateur shows, some to review and others to simply support friends, I directed Footloose for Bromley Players and also costumed Our House for the same society and 2020 sees me embarking on directing another production for Bromley Players – Shrek! Choosing my favourite amateur production this year was therefore so difficult as I am lucky enough to live in an area where I review so many groups with such a high standard but I eventually settled on Spring Awakening by Cygnet Players. This was a show that I felt really blurred the line between amateur and professional with an incredibly talented cast, great attention to detail by the director, spot on choreography and even really thoughtful costume choices.
Read the full review here – Spring Awakening Review.
Runner Up – Ragtime by Sedos
Best Concert/ Review Show – West End Eurovision
West End Eurovision is possibly the campiest night in the West End calendar and this resulted in such a fun night out! Somehow this event had passed me by in previous years so when i got an invitation to this years event I jumped at the chance! With 7 different casts performing a number from past years Eurovisions, a celebrity judging panel and the West Ends own answer to Graham Norton it really was everything I had hoped for! I am already determined to head back in 2020.
Read the full review here – West End Eurovision review
Best Touring Show – Amelie
Amelie is a musical based on the 2001 film of the same name. It tells of Parisian Amelie, who decides to become an anonymous do-gooder, starting with returning a box full of childhood memories to the boy who used to live in her apartment. In her quest she meets Nino, who she is instantly drawn to but her overprotective mothers words ring in her ears and throughout the show she hides from him, setting him riddles until she can run no longer. This is possibly one of the most unusual shows I have seen on tour and I adored it for that reason as well!
Amelie is a quirky and whimsical musical with Parisian charm and a wonderful mix of the delicate and the comedic in the direction. Well worth seeing for a musical that thinks outside the box.
I saw Amelie at New Wimbledon Theatre whilst it was on tour but it is now at The Other Palace until 1st February 2020 so you still have a chance to see it!
Read the full review here – Amelie review
Runner Up – Cabaret
Best Dance/Physical Theatre – The Red Shoes
Heading to Sadlers Wells for their Christmas ballet is becoming a bit of a Christmas tradition for me and I love it. Each year the New Adventures Company pull of a stunning show and this year was no different.
The Red Shoes is a wonderfully dramatic and moving ballet which is heightened not only by the stunning company of dancers but a rich score, a strong and versatile company of dancers and a stunning look to complete the show.
The Red Shoes is running until the 19th January at Sadlers Wells so you still have a chance to catch it before it closes.
Read the full review here – The Red Shoes review
Best Festive Show – White Christmas
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! This year there were 9 festive offerings on my blog as well as other shows I saw that I wasn’t reviewing. It was White Christmas that really succeeded in getting me in the Christmas Spirit. With a show packed full of stunning dancing that would wow all year round and a finalie which sees snow inside then you are onto a real winner.
Read the full review here – White Christmas review.
Noteable mentions –
There are a couple of shows that don’t neatly fall into any of the above categories but it would be remiss of me not to mention them. They are:
Once on This Island – Southwark Playhouse by British Theatre Academy:
I am a big fan of supporting youth theatre but when the quality is as good as this production I treated it as a professional production and still gave it 5 stars!!! Oh and how thrilled was I to get to see Sam Tutty in this before he was cast as Evan in Dear Evan Hansen!
All That Scratch – The Other Palace Studio Theatre:
I actually won a competition for tickets to see this so I didn’t review it (instead I just raved about it on twitter). Essentially it is a podcast recording with a studio audience which brings you the best in new musical theatre. I went to the Edinburgh Fringe Special where I discovered some of the talent that was going up to Edinburgh including both Unfortunate and Tokyo Rose which are mentioned above. It is a great event to attend as an audience member but I also love the fact that there is podcast for new musical theatre lovers like me! Check it out!
Most Disappointing Show – Friendscial – A Parody Musical About Friends
As a big Friends fan I had high hopes for this Edinburgh Fringe show. Where ever you went in Edinburgh you couldn’t escape the advertising and there was already a tour after Edinburgh arranged – the hype was big! Yet the songs were forgettable and there was less parody more simple homage to the show and a roller coaster recap of the show! The one or two moments they do try to parody the show sit uncomfortably with the rest of the material as these references are so few and far between the audience is unsure what to make of it.
Read the full review here – Friendscial – A Parody Musical review.
Most Read Reviews of 2019.
I always find it interesting to see which of my reviews are read the most over the year. This year it was the year of the Edinburgh Fringe reviews:
1.Now That’s What I Call Brexit (3 stars)
3. Six (2018 review but it is still running!!) (5 stars)
It has been another wonderful theatre year for me. I saw 103 shows ranging from a singular one star review to 7 five star reviews (Come From Away, Mary Poppins, The Boy In The Dress, Emilia, Once on This Island, Unfortunate and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), with plenty in between. I was also lucky enough to attend lots of exciting events including the & Juliet press launch, the Red Shoes opening night party, a bloggers event for 9 to 5 where I met the cast, the Woman in Black 30 years celebration and numerous press nights.
As you also know I now have guest reviewers who are all people I trust with great taste in theatre. This year they covered 41 shows for me which helped my blog cover content I might not otherwise get a chance to see myself!
Finally a big thank you to those of you that I have read my blog over the year. Do let me know if you agree with my list and what your favourite shows of 2019 have been!