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!

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Half A Sixpence.

I went to see Half a Sixpence tonight at the Noel Coward Theatre, starring Charlie Stemp. Half a sixpence is a classic rag to riches story concerning humble Kent man, Arthur Kipps, and the love triangle he manages to get stuck in the middle of.

As the show started, the overture began with banjos. This made me quite dubious, a musical overture beginning with banjos? However, the music transitioned into a very classical musical genre. Which, of course, is very catchy, although not particularly unique.  However a few songs did stick out to me, due to the emotional performances from the cast.

Stemp’s Kipps, is naïve, a tad daft, but extremely lovable. His childish allure, shines throughout the performance and brought so much energy to the show. I just wanted to hug him throughout the whole performance. The whole cast complimented each other, and the chemistry between all the apprentices was very playful, and their scenes were always enjoyable to watch. I really did enjoy the show; it was extremely feel good. It had me smiling throughout the whole show.

Although I do want to mention, also because I know it was a controversy during the casting process – It was extremely white. I do think Stemp was a perfect fit for Kipps, however the whole cast of 28 is seemingly white (I don’t want to assume anyone’s nationality). I don’t believe that they didn’t see any POC that were suitable for the show. And if an excuse is that there weren’t that many POC in 1904- They also didn’t break into song and dance in 1904…

Politics aside, I did enjoy the show immensely, and would recommend for a fun light hearted night. However, I would campaign for more diversity in the West End, as it is so ridiculously important, across so many shows. This one was just glaringly obvious

Much Ado About Nothing – Globe Theatre

I genuinely have so much love and appreciation for this play. I’ve been through a lot with it, so it’s only fitting that the first play I see at The Globe Theatre, is this one. I will warn you now, I love this play so much, that I could probably see a terrible production and still love it, so I may be a tad bias, but I’ll try my best.

This version of Much Ado is set in the 1910 Mexican revolution, which just brings so much colour to the show. In the set, costumes and the whole tone. Even though the show is primarily a comedy, the Mexican culture breathes new life into it. In the form of the music, the costumes, all the scene transitions, and the vendetta against Americans- which did make me chuckle, especially with the large volume of Americans surrounding me.

I tried to look at this production, with an extra-critical eye to compensate my love for the play. At the beginning I thought that perhaps, Matthew Needham, Benedick, and Beatriz Romilly, Beatrice, were lacking in chemistry. However, as the play moved along, I was quickly proved wrong, they were fantastic. They managed to get the balance between comedy and gravity, which is very tricky in most Shakespeare comedies. The rest of the cast cannot be dismissed at all. They all worked effortlessly together. I hope that one day I could be a part of a cast that is so in sync.

It was also surprisingly enjoyable watching it from the yard. I thought I would hate standing for three hours, but also didn’t want to shell out £40+ for a ticket. It reminded me what theatre is about, because there was 700 or so people standing in the yard together, we all ending up talking about the play. It got people talking and socialising. It’s one of the reasons Theatre was so popular in Shakespeare’s time.

And on a final, and more personal note it brought back a lot of feelings for me, of various things that have happened, and everything the play meant to me. By the end of it, I was very emotional, however, I am almost fairly certain the tears were from laughter.

I’ve tried to keep this short and sweet, but definitely go check it out if you can. And I would say the Yard tickets are the best way to go – £5, same price as lunch at McDonalds. And far better for you!

Woyzeck- Old Vic.

Tonight I saw Woyzeck at the Old Vic, starring John Boyega. Woyzeck by Georg Büchner is an exploration on how War affects young minds, and the lengths people will go to escape the clasp of poverty. Set in the rage of the Cold War and the war in Belfast, this new adaptation by Joe Murphy, brings all the tension and life of war to the stage.

I absolutely loved this production.  The industrial set, had a sinister air to it, paired with the lighting and the ominous music, it all became a bit of a sensory overload. I was overwhelmed with dread, and fear, which just encompassed the whole theatre, and set the tone perfectly.

John Boyega’s Woyzeck was loveable, but complex. The character constantly surprised me. And I can’t imagine how physically taxing that role would be on him. After the run finishes he said he would be taking a well deserved holiday. Ben Batt’s Andrews, brought a needed comedic break to the drama. Also the relationship between Boyega’s Woyzeck, and Sarah Greene’s Marie was so perfect. And the development, or perhaps deterioration was so clear and concise.

The thing I loved most about this production, apart from the set, has to be the direction. There was such a clear vision in this show, which I don’t seem to see a lot of.  The second act was so confusing. I could not tell what was real or not, this was enhanced by the lighting and the set, where the attention to detail was remarkable. You were really transported into Woyzeck’s mind. I felt stressed, and anxious, and scared. I had no idea how I was going to react to this show, and I just wanted to go home and curl up. It stressed me out. And I think that’s fantastic!

It closes this week so, if you get the chance, please go check it out.

 

 

Twelfth Night- National Theatre.

So tonight I went to see Twelfth Night, at the National. Another Review (lucky you, dear reader… Or Unlucky, depending on how you feel). This production, stars Tamsin Grieg, and turns the show on it’s head, into a wonderful, fast paced, and colourful queer-fest.

Directed by Simon Godwin, this new adaptation brings new life to the old classic.  It begins, with a simple, but effective outline of a ship. The attention in detail in this production was fantastic, from the way they made the smoke, seem like water, to the faint cricket’s chirping in the background in the scenes. The sound, and music was wonderful, and made the play not unlike a musical, with songs and music, aiding to the drama and the transitions. The transitions were very slick, mostly due to the fantastic set. Almost like a clock, the ‘ship’ rotated, to reveal different spaces in the island. And the dressing of the set was brilliant, again the attention to detail was fantastic. Each space, had a completely different feel to it.

The cast were brilliant of course. Tamara Lawrance, Viola, brought a brilliant innocence, to the role, whilst playing her fiercely, and wise. And her chemistry with Oliver Chris, Orsino, both as Cesario and Viola, bringing another aspect to the play, that I had completely disregarded. That Orsino, was so determined to marry Olivia, because he had feelings for Cesario. Oliver Chris, was a brilliant Orsino, and brought a David Tennant-ish quality to the role, somewhat reminiscent of Benedick. However, Daniel Rigby, Sir Andrew Aguecheek, and Tim McMullan, Sir Toby Belch, were fantastic. They were both energetic, bringing more comedy to the show. With the drunken energy, coming from McMullan, and an innocence to the ‘tyrants’ coming from Rigby.  Imogen Doel, Fabia, or the Fool, brought the whole piece together, with a beautiful voice, and fantastic physicality in her acting. Malvolia, Tamsin Greig, was of course brilliant, her Malvolia, was stern, but still, somehow, likeable. And her ‘burlesque’ reveal of the yellow stockings was worthy of it’s own act.

All the gender-bending in this production was really great, and highlighted so many different relationships, and emotions that are often tossed aside in this play. Although, it may have dawdled in parts. This production was brilliant, because it was fun – it didn’t take itself too seriously, and every detail was thought of- from the costumes, to the bottles that Sir Toby drunk from.