As 2017 comes to a close I thought I would look back at this incredible year of theatre. I’ve seen so much this year it was so difficult to whittle it down to just 10 experiences, so first, some honourable mentions, these included seeing what the hype was about at Harry Potter and the Cursed Child; multiple visits including the first preview and closing night of The Toxic Avenger; The Color Purple in Concert at Cadogan Hall; Bonnie and Clyde Work-in-progress & The Wild Party (both The Other Palace); seeing Beautiful a few times in its closing months (ending with closing night); and seeing two productions at my favourite venue Regent’s Park Open Air – On the Town and Jesus Christ Superstar.
*Also note I have excluded the many concerts of performers I have seen, just sticking with solely theatre-related shows/events otherwise the list would go on and on!
10. West End Live 2017
The free outdoor concert event showcasing each show and performer of the West End over one weekend. The event closed with this powerful performance from John Owen Jones, Nathan Amzi, Marisha Wallace and Trevor Dion Nicholas. Incredible to be a part of!
9. Panto Returns to the London Palladium
Book-ending my 2017 was Cinderella (January) and Dick Whittington (December) at the London Palladium. Both showcased star casts, spectacle, musical and classic panto. And I have never laughed so much in my life than I have watching Julian Clary in both!
8. Cast change/Matt Henry’s Final performance of Kinky Boots
An incredible evening from start to finish. You could tell the whole audience had such a love for this show and cast and everyone went full out for the last one. Matt Henry received what felt like close to a 5-minute standing ovation after “Hold Me In Your Heart,” and that’s something I won’t forget in a hurry!
7. The first UK performance of Hamilton
This musical is astonishing in every sense, while I feel it’s not as good as creator Lin Miranda’s other big musical In the Heights, it certainly is worth the hype. And to be a part of the very first audience of something that has already created a legacy, reformed how musical theatre is done and that will run for years was pretty unbelievable!
6. Half a Sixpence (all three times)
I wish I had since the show more than three times because it was perfect and did not deserve to close. While I enjoyed it the first time without him, rising star Charlie Stemp really elevated the show and gave such an inventive and fresh lead performance. A truly beautiful show with amazing show-stopping numbers (will forever be blown away by “Pick Out a Simple Tune”) that definitely contributed to making my year!
5. 42nd Street (again, and again, and again)
The best show on the West End right now! I’ve seen it four times this year and I’m not stopping there. My heart feels like it’s jumping out at every moment. With just the Overture and opening scene you are blown away. This cast, this ensemble, this choreography, this music makes one of the best experiences you will have…well…in general!
4. Dreamgirls (all 8 times I guess!)
Along with Wicked, this is the show I have since the most this year and overall in my 10 years of theatre watching. It is so impressive, the vocals and the music take your breath away. I was lucky enough in November to be at cast change Saturday (final show for Amber) and Monday (Marisha’s lead debut), but to be honest, every time seeing this show feels like a special occasion because every time, everyone goes all out!
3. Wicked cast changes
As ever, what I look forward to every year is a cast change at Wicked, just so happens we had two this year with limited return runs for powerhouses Rachel Tucker and Willemijn Verkaik, and the end of contract for the exceptional 10th Anniversary company. Emotions and vocal goals were at the forefront this year and I loved every minute. Not to mention, this was all followed by my all-time favourite Elphaba Alice Fearn becoming lead! Get in!
2. In the Heights Closing Night
Going back to the very first week of the year, when before London gained Hamilton, it lost In the Heights. This was a night that I will remember forever: half a dozen standing-ovations, an incredible final performance of one of my top 5 shows, and a speech from the main man Lin at the end of it all. It was simply everything!
1. The Girls (in general)
I feel like I go on about this show a lot on my blog but for good reason. My top 3 shows move around a little depending on how I’m feeling and this show has felt like it ought to be in the number 1 spot after this year. I was lucky to see the show 6 times (although I wish it was more) and it is honestly the most fun and equally heartbreaking experience I’ve had – something about how the show is done connects very emotionally with me, and the final 2 performances in particular were arguably the best theatre experience I’ve had in my life! It was not given long enough in the West End…still, I can’t wait for the tour in 2018!