26 December 2019

2019 Theatre Top 10

With the year nearly over it's time to look back on our 10 favourite productions. 2019 has been a great year for theatre and I've seen some amazing productions, so much so that choosing this list was really difficult. Let me know what your favourite productions have been in the comment section.

10. Six
The smash-hit musical re-tells the stories of Henry VIII's Six wives from their perspective. Its pop-concert feel has made it continues to sell out in London's Arts Theatre as well as hugely successful runs on a UK tour, Broadway, Chicago, Australia and more. Written by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss it's just a storming joy and you can't help but be swept up entirely by this piece and the magnificently designed production. I saw the show twice this year in London and look forward to catching the UK tour next year when it visits Curve.

Six continues at London's Arts Theatre as well as productions touring the UK, on Broadway and beyond. Visit https://www.sixthemusical.com/ for more.
Six The Musical. Photo by Eleanor Howarth
9. The Taming of the Shrew
The Royal Shakespeare Company have had a great year and I loved their productions over the summer season but the stand out was the gender-swapped production of The Taming of the Shrew. Justin Audibert's production gives the play a fresh feeling and made it feel more alive than I've encountered previously. A tremendous company led by Claire Price as Petruchia and Joseph Arkley as Katherine deliver this great Shakespeare play outstandingly.

The Taming of the Shrew plays in rep with As You Like It and Measure For Measure at the Barbican in London until 18th January. The three productions then tour the UK and the world. Visit https://www.rsc.org.uk/ to book.
Joseph Arkley as Katherine and Claire Price as Petruchia in The Taming of the Shrew. Photo by Ikin Yum
8. The Season
Northampton's Royal and Derngate and Ipswich's New Wolsey Theatre co-production of new musical The Season was magnificent. Jim Barne and Kit Buchan's production followed Dougal as he headed to New York on Christmas Eve for his Dad's wedding. He's greeted at the airport by Robin, as it's her sister who is marrying Dougal's father. The pair get thrown together for a wild weekend and a blossoming romance. A brilliant two-hander with Alex Cardall as Dougal and Tori Allen-Martin, both of whom were superb. I adored this festive rom-com and hope there's a future for this show.

Read our 5-star review for The Season here https://www.beyondthecurtain.co.uk/2019/11/the-season-review.html
Alex Cardall and Tori Allen-Martin in The Season. Photo by Pamela Raith Photography
7. War Horse
War Horse might not be a new piece but this year was the first time I'd seen the stage version. I was absolutely transfixed by this remarkable story and the stunning staging during it's run at Curve. Michael Morpurgo's tale of Albert Narracott and his horse Joey is moving and gripping. Despite the fact I'd previously seen the film I was on the edge of my seat for the entire performance.

The production is currently in Paris and on a world tour. Visit https://www.warhorseonstage.com/ to book.
Scott Miller as Albert in War Horse. Photo by Brinkhoff and Mogenburg
6. West Side Story
Curve's production of West Side Story delivers powerful effective storytelling. Nikolai Foster directs this compelling production of what is often referred to as the greatest musical. The music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim is gorgeous and with a talented company and one of the best orchestras you'll find on any production, this is a must-see. Jamie Muscato as Tony and Adriana Ivelisse both give wonderful performances as the star crossed lovers.

West Side Story plays at Curve until 18th January. Visit https://www.curveonline.co.uk/ to book.
West Side Story. Photo by Ellie Kurttz
5. Emilia
Morgan Lloyd Malcolm's rousing play Emilia enjoyed a West End transfer earlier this year after opening at Shakespeare's Globe in 2018. A passionate and funny all-female production, both on stage and creatively, richly deserved the transfer and needs to be seen by all. Telling the story of Emilia Bassano who wanted her voice to be heard at a time when women simply weren't. Saffron Coomber, Adelle Leonce and Clare Perkins shared the title role playing her at different stages in her life. The remarkable final speech was worth the ticket fee alone. Revival, please.
The company of Emilia. Photo by Helen Murray.
4. The Boy In The Dress
The Royal Shakespeare Company have transferred David Walliams's The Boy in the Dress from page to stage in a musical adaptation. Adapted by Mark Ravenhill and with music and lyrics by Guy Chambers and Robbie Williams, it's a joyous production for all ages. The combination of the humour, heart and great music makes a magical theatre production. Four children share the lead role of Dennis, but both times I've been I've seen Toby Mocrei who is a complete star. Strong supporting performances from Rufus Hound as Dad, Forbes Masson as Mr Hawtrey and Irvine Iqbal as Raj further enhance this new musical which will run for years.

The Boy in the Dress continues at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-Upon-Avon until 8th March 2020. Visit https://www.rsc.org.uk/the-boy-in-the-dress-musical/ to book.
The company of The Boy in the Dress. Photo by Manuel Harlan.
3. Dear Evan Hansen
The long-awaited West End transfer of the Broadway smash Dear Evan Hansen opened in November and rightly deserves its place on the West End stage where I suspect it'll play for quite some time. Benj Pasek and Justin Paul prove their quality as songwriters once again with songs that will be musical theatre classics in years to come. 'You Will Be Found' is a message that carries across the show and in this modern era of social media, this show is powerfully relevant. On the matinee I saw we had Marcus Harman in the lead role and he was breathtaking. Take tissues - you'll need them.

Dear Evan Hansen plays at London's Noel Coward Theatre. Visit https://dearevanhansen.com/ to book.
The London Cast of Dear Evan Hansen. Photo by Matthew Murphy.
2. Come From Away
Another musical to transfer from Broadway, Come From Away is simply remarkable. Telling the true story of the town of Gander in Newfoundland which welcomed stranded plane passengers with open arms in the wake of the 9/11 tragedy. The message of hope and kindness drives through this one-act musical. Irene Sankoff and David Hein's original piece really is one of the best productions you'll ever see. The rousing stand ovation at the end is a euphoric moment. 12 cast members play dual roles perfectly - they all combine to make the show a success. Unmissable.

Come From Away plays at London's Phoenix Theatre. Visit https://comefromawaylondon.co.uk/ to book.
The original UK company of Come From Away.
1. Amelie
The stage adaptation of the French language movie Amelie is currently enjoying a run at London's The Other Palace following at runs at The Watermill Theatre and on a UK tour. Telling the tale of shy dreamer Amelie who creates moments of kindness for those around her but once she has a chance of romance it's whether she can come out of her shell and find her own happiness. This exquisite production totally wowed me and I've seen it 7 times now. The use of actor-musicians works perfectly to create this magically Parisian world. Nathan Tysen and Daniel Messe's music and lyrics are beautiful. Audrey Brisson in the lead role is perfection. It's quirky, magical and heart-warming.

Amelie plays at London's The Other Palace until February 1st 2020. Visit https://ameliethemusical.com/ to book.
The cast of Amelie. Photo by Pamela Raith Photography.

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