Thursday, 1 March 2018

2017 Round Up

2017 was another year of broken blog resolutions. Many shows seen, many shows not written up. Anyone looking at the blog would think I’d had a light theatre year, but no it was just life getting in the way of writing about the shows I saw. Here is the full (I think) list of what theatrical shenanigans got up to in 2017 with links to the actual blogs I got round to writing


  • Sweet Charity, Royal Exchange Theatre – fun show and Kaisa Hammarlund was an amazing Charity


  • Everyone’s Talking About Jaime, Sheffield Crucible – this new musical is amazing, you laugh, cry and dance. It’s now open in the West End, winning awards by the bucket load and is a must see. I’ve already seen it once in London and I will go again!
  • The House of Bernard Alba, Royal Exchange Theatre – interesting and inclusive production from Graeae Theatre Company whose work looks to break down barriers, challenge preconceptions and open up opportunities for disabled artists
  • The Suppliant Women, Royal Exchange Theatre – fantastic use of a community cast and chorus to deliver a mesmerising and memorable new version of an ancient Greek tale.


  • London jaunt to see two shows that I actually wrote about – the ridiculously glitzy 42nd Street and the joyful Half a Sixpence


  • Twelfth Night, Royal Exchange Theatre – great cast. I especially enjoyed Kate O’Donnell as Feste.


  • Persuasion, Royal Exchange Theatre – modern and fun take on the tale. There was even a foam party! A few of the audience seemed to be expecting something a little more traditional, but I loved it and thought it was really accessible. I’ve since read the book and the play was actually really true to it.


  • Fatherland, Royal Exchange Theatre as part of the Manchester International Festival. Really interesting and moving production exploring the father / son dynamic. The movement aspect was very striking.
  •  Welcoming Party at the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry – which I worked on as a volunteer. Truly wonderful show and a great thing to be part of.


  • We Were Told there Was Dancing – really amazing site specific work by the Royal Exchange’s young company which took place in the partially disused space beneath the Royal Exchange building. They took us on a figurative and literal journey looking at changing attitudes to gay rights and we experienced very moving tales of love, discrimination, violence and heartbreak which ended on a hopeful note. 


  • Lovely revival of Pippin at the gorgeous Hope Mill Theatre
  • Daniel Kitson’s latest magical creation Something Other Than Everything at the Royal Exchange. It’s hard to describe how amazing Kitson’s shows are. He’s a totally masterful storyteller who observes the minute detail in life and weaves seemingly disconnected observations into a wonderful whole. Two hours of a man, a microphone and a brew and possibly one of the best things I have ever seen in the theatre.
  • A visit to the Norfolk Coast on holiday gave me chance to visit the good old Cromer Pier Show – proper traditional variety in the last remaining end of the pier show. It’s been going 40 years, I’ve seen it quite a few times over the years, (even saw Bradley Walsh in it many years ago when he was a young comedian) and I hope it carries on for many more years. Just up the coast is the Sheringham Little Theatre which every summer hosts proper Rep, probably one of the last places that does. We were there at the end of the season and saw a great show called Noel and Gertie, a mixture of song and comedy telling the story of the friendship of Noel Coward and Gertrude Lawrence.
  • Not a theatre show, but a theatre trip – as part of a birthday gift from my parents I went on a fascinating back stage tour of the beautiful Buxton Opera House. Incredible value, £10 for a really detailed and interesting insight into the theatre and its history.
  • Our Town at the Royal Exchange was an interesting beast. The first two acts seemed to be full of slow and inconsequential detail, and then the last act pulled it all together in quite heart breaking fashion. I loved the interesting staging too, with part of the audience mingled with the cast.


  • Armistead Maupin in conversation at the Royal Northern College of Music. My favourite author, I can read his Tales of the City books again and again, they feel like family, and he was just as warm and engaging as I expected him to be.
  • Parliament Square at the Royal Exchange was a simply staged but incredibly powerful production that had me virtually holding my breath at times. A definite stand out of my theatre year.


  • Jubilee at the Royal Exchange which didn’t fully win me over if I’m honest
  • An American in Paris at the Dominion in London. Much more complex and balletic production than I was expecting and really quite beautiful.
  • Follies at the National Theatre which was simply fantastic. Amazing cast, brilliant staging and set, just wonderful.
  • I also did a backstage tour at the National. You have to book these in advance, tickets go on sale about six weeks before, but it’s really worth it. A good two hours with a great guide seeing everything from front of house to workshops.
  • Matilda at the Cambridge Theatre. Third time I’ve seen this, I make no apologies. It’s funny, touching, cleverly written and the cast are great. Plus it’s one of the few Sunday shows in London and a nice way to round off a trip. 


  •  Beautiful the Carole King Musical at the Palace Theatre. Whilst it was a bit of a whistle stop tour of the song writing of King and her contemporaries, and didn’t dwell as much as it could have done on the emotional side of her story, this was a great show that highlighted what an incredible body of work she has been responsible for and Bronte Barbie in the lead role was an absolute powerhouse.
  • Wizard of Oz at Sheffield Crucible was a great seasonal treat with an amazing set, imaginative casting and clever staging. Thoroughly enjoyable.
  • And finally, Guys and Dolls at the Royal Exchange. Great show, well casted and felt fresh and energetic. Loved it.

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