Top Shows of 2017.

Top shows of 2017.

Happy New Year! What better way to reflect on the past year than in theatre, so with much further ado, here are my top shows that I saw in 2017. I usually do them in order, however I saw so many shows this year, that the best I could do was rattle it down to my equally top five.

Sweeney Todd at the Barrow Street Theatre

Sweeney Todd 
Barrow Street Theater

I saw this a couple of weeks ago, just before I left New York. It was, surprisingly, the first professionally done Sondheim musical I’ve seen. I was surprised as you are! It was a brilliantly immersive piece of theatre, definitely aided by our cheeky upgrade from a very nice usher from $30 seats to $200 seats, right in the middle of the action. The acting was fantastic, and I was both terrified and thrilled throughout the whole show.

Torch Song

TORCH SONG
By HARVEY FIERSTEIN
2ND Stage

I saw this at the right time in my life I think. It was what I needed to see. The acting was brilliant, and I loved the whole story. The attention to detail from the neon sign of the title to the motif in sign language of “I love you, but not enough”. The simplicity of the show and the symbolism made the punch that more powerful. I think it’s an important piece to be shown, and it was very moving. It had an air of melancholy, however still left you with a tiny bit of hope to reach out for at the end.

Dear Evan Hansen

ap_17163052478915_wide-2a31b8b8ade54f82e40d59e9a5989d1fb11a0788-s900-c85It’s no surprise that this made my top five this year. Again I think it’s one of those shows that you have to see at the right time in your life. I was very lucky to see the original cast, and I enjoyed the show immensely. It is no surprise Ben Platt won a Tony for his performance. It’s a contemporary story, that flourishes within the music and the production aspects of the piece. The production designer did a brilliant job of capturing a limbo of technology.  was a melancholic, funny, technical wonder, with a hint of hope strung throughout it.

Much Ado about Nothing

Much-Ado-About-Nothing-Shakespeares-Globe1-700x455

This being my favourite Shakespeare I was thrilled to see it at the Globe Theatre. This production was full of life, love and colour. The Mexican revolution breathed new life into the show, encouraged by the cast that was completely in sync, and the vendetta against Americans. I love the play and I loved this production. It’s Shakespeare in the Shakespeare Globe, what could be better?

Once on this Island

04onceisland1-superJumboI loved this show, because it felt different from the other things I had seen on the New York stage. Probably due to the lack of white actors, and western narrative, that despite all the cries from diversity on the west end and broadway stages, still seems to dominate the theatrical world. The cast were extremely talented, however the stage and costume design of the production is really what shone for me. Starting with simple ideas they flourished into a fully immersive set and colourful array of costume. This show was dripping with passion, culture, life and colour.

Honourable mentions. There are so many shows that I just couldn’t leave out. 

Woyzeck – An intense and foreboding production, with brilliant acting from John Boyega.

The Mad Ones–  A Brilliant off-broadway coming of age musical, with sweet music and a moving narrative.

Spongebob Squarepants– I know, I know, but it was surprisingly good, and weirdly political. The music was fantastic and the production value was insane.  Ethan Slater, Spongebob, made the show.

Life of Galileo– A beautiful show, with the stars, science and politics interwoven into the production. “Truth is in the trial of a moment, not in the past”

Amadeus – A whirlwind of human emotion and the madness of genius, with a very contemporary look on a very classic story.

Hamlet – Fantastic acting from Andrew Scott, with a darker and more modern outlook on a classic Shakespeare.

Trainspotting – A Brilliantly immersive and inherently Scottish production, with brilliant acting and a dingy and dark feel to it.

Twelfth Night – A fun, fantastical, detailed production.All the gender-bending it made the show into a colourful queer-fest, with a brilliant, and practical set.

Best Wishes into the new year, and I hope it is full of Happiness and Theatre!

Advertisements

Top productions of 2016

Another year has passed, and despite this one being particularly bad, there was still lots and lots of theatre. So here are my top five productions of 2016, excluding the fringe- it just became impossible to narrow down to five, if I included the fringe. I may do another post describing my top five fringe productions.

5. Lazarus at the Kings Cross Theatre

08lazarusjpsub-master675Now this may be, that it is the last production I saw, but at No.5, it’s Lazarus. The new musical, written by David Bowie, another icon we lost this year. It was a melancholic and thought-provoking story, with suitable music, and a very dystopic production. The visual images created were something to be in awe of. As I said a beautiful chaotic mess of a show.

 

4. I am Thomas at the Lyceum

I%20Am%20Thomas-103%20(c)%20Manuel%20Harlan%20-%20Liverpool%20Playhouse

Politically charged and hilariously funny, it’s I am Thomas from the Lyceum, which I saw in March. The Direction and the ensemble’s work pulled off a fantastic show with a great vision, all about freedom  of speech, in the height of the Je Suis Charlie movement. The music was brilliant, adding another layer to this piece- it was like an onion…

3. The Shakespeare Trilogy at the Donmar.

donmar-the-tempest

Okay, so I know I’m cheating a little bit, but I struggled picking just five shows, and they did have the same cast and director- basically. The Shakespeare trilogy consisted of The Tempest, Julius Caesar, and King Henry IV. It was an entirely female cast, and set in a female prison. I had some qualms about Julius Caesar, however the production was made clear, when I saw Henry IV. The Three shows worked as an entity, but also separately. The productions were creative, heartfelt and sorely needed. Setting Shakespeare in a modern environment was something that needed to be explored in mainstream theatre, also with a diverse and female cast it broke the stereotype of an old white english man performing Shakespeare.  The productions were fantastical, mythical and scary at some points. Definitely some of the best Shakespeare I’ve seen.

2. The Glass Menagerie at the Edinburgh International Festival.

download

I wasn’t actually going to go see this, I absolutely  hated the play when I studied it – it was boring and nothing happened in it. The ending was not satisfying, and I just didn’t get the characters, except maybe Tom, though I even found him to be a bit of a lad. I even wrote an epilogue for it, which was how unsatisfying I found the ending. (It was a terrible epilogue by the way. When I was younger I was under the delusion I could write scripts…) Anyway a friend convinced me to go with the one sentence ‘there is such beauty in the mundane’  And he was so right. I managed to snap up one ticket for the last night- I may have left work early for it… oops, but I decided I had to see it. And I am so glad I did. It has to be one of the most poignant and beautiful productions I have seen this year. The set was unbelievable, the direction and acting was brilliant, and I saw the beauty in the mundane. In the characters I hated, I found redemption, and the ending turned from unsatisfying to almost hopeful. The music was amazing. The whole production was poetically serendipitous, showing these damaged characters as fragile as glass. It brought meaning to the meaningless. And a quote – “Time is the longest distance between two places” , has earned a place on my laptop.

 

Drum roll please for my top production of 2016…. (It won’t come as a surprise I assume…)

 

  1. In The Heights at The King’s Cross Theatre

In the Heights

In the Heights is at my No. 1. spot, as  I said is probably not a surprise. I saw this back in February, and I managed to get tickets for £15. In The Heights was written by Lin Manuel Miranda, and it set in the lower east side of Manhattan, in a Latino community in Washington Heights. The main selling point of this show, is of course the music. I watched it in February, and I am still listening to it constantly.  The complex lyrics, with Latino roots was the perfect way to show the core of the inspiration, as Lin Manuel Miranda is an immigrant from Puerto Rico.  I’m absolute sucker for Lin Manuel Miranda, but that is not the only reason. The actors were brilliant, and lovely as well. The youthful charm and energising tone to the performance made it an incredible night. I felt a part of the cast and the community. For once I didn’t want to run up and perform with the actors, because I was already up there. I cringed at what the characters said, and cried when they cried. I could not stop smiling, except you know, when I was crying.  The political connotations came through the comedy, and identity and immigration, were the core aspects of the show. It was full of life and symbolism, and I absolutely loved it.

 

Notable few:

Okay, so I said top 5, but here a few notable ones that I couldn’t just not mention. –

Aladdin: Full of colour and childlike imagination.

The Libertine: The writing in this was brilliant. The characters and story was so sad, but it was shrouded in comedy.

A Night in Miami: The political statements made in this were amazing, and heartbreaking. Along with a beautiful rendition of ‘A change is gonna come’ 

Kinky Boots: An extremely fun night, with fabulous costumes, and an amazing message to help change society for the better.

 

This was a longin. And this is without Fringe productions- eek.  There may be a post coming soon for that. But all in all. I hope 2016 has been great, and here’s hoping 2017 will be even better, and here’s to less loss in the arts world next year.  See you all in 2017!

-Charlie