NewsRevue is bloody brilliant. The production, staged at the Canal Café’s pub theatre, is reminiscent of a musicalised Mock the Week episode. In a series of comedic scenes in quick succession, the show provides sharp satirical commentary on the messy current political situation we currently find ourselves in. Instead of lamenting at the shit show that Brexit is or the buffoon who holds the highest office in the US, this pokes fun at the farce that it all is and provides unexpected comic relief.
Six, the wildly popular new West End musical, is currently wowing audiences at the Arts Theatre in Leicester Square. Above this theatre, there is a little-known venue aptly called Above the Arts. It’s a relaxed setting with some stylish artwork, a small bar, some sofas and typically plays host to cabaret acts. On a Saturday afternoon, Amy Lovatt graced the stage with her very first concert, ‘I’d Rather Be Me’. The set opened with a playful rendition of Poor Unfortunate Souls and included many musical theatre fan favourites including songs from The Last Five Years, Miss Saigon and Little Shop of Horrors.
In the Actors Centre, a fringe theatre venue in Leicester Square, a select audience witnessed the first full staging of After All, Alex’s Music Therapy Show. In this one-man musical performance, Alex talks us through his very personal experience of supporting his terminally ill brother with assisted suicide. Unable to process the ordeal, he eventually manages to find emotional release in Musical Therapy.
Deli Dumrul is an ancient Turkish tale which has been brought to life by the Arcola’s Ala Turka Company, helmed by Director Naz Yeni. Once our storytellers take centre stage, you are transported to another land, surrounded by vibrant Turkish music, culture and these engaging characters. The show beautifully harnesses the power that theatre has to connect with all audiences regardless of time or place or even language.
In Come From Away, a strong cast of twelve are able to bring to life this little-known story. A story in which a small Canadian town mobilised to accommodate the thousands of people who were stranded when their planes were diverted following the 9/11 attacks. At a time of hysteria over news which aims to shock and appal, I wish there were more shows like this one which seeks to display the good which humanity can achieve.
Hadestown. What do I say about Hadestown. It was fine. There were many enjoyable elements including Eva Noblezada’s performance as Eurydice, the choreography and seeing the dynamic theatrical staging at the Olivier (National Theatre). But beyond that, I didn’t feel like I had watched something particularly ground-breaking. Rather, it was a series of events which amounted to little for me. Since watching it live, I’ve taken a liking to the scaled back and delicate feel of the cast recording with its original company. I do wonder whether I would have preferred a stripped back production, as this project initially began.
If we cast our memories back to school, most of us can vaguely remember learning about Henry VIII. If you did, you would have most likely learnt about his six wives and that ‘divorced’, ‘beheaded’, ‘died’ poem, but not much more about them. In Six, these ladies take centre stage and we gain an insight into their multi-dimensional lives through pop contemporary music. They have these big personalities and fascinating stories to share. The result is Hamilton meets the Spice Girls. It’s fun, fresh, and one of the most original British shows I’ve seen in a while.
Caroline, or Change is a musical of two quite different acts. The first had enjoyable parts but felt slow and left me feeling lukewarm. It was only during the second act that it shifted up a gear and an interesting show began to reveal itself. It became about much more than just an angry black woman in a low paid job, but a multi-layered insight into the feeling of change which rippled across America in the 1960s. It’s not your average feel-good musical but one that gets the brain ticking.
Some may be worried about 2019, it might be for big reasons such as that the UK is scheduled to leave the EU but hasn’t come to an agreement on what a Trade Deal will look like. Or for smaller reasons about whether you’ll be able to maintain the list of New Year Resolutions you spent so long on refining. Although 2019 may seem bleak for some, there’s lots to look forward to in the Musical Theatre World. Now I’m living in Central London, there’s so much more that I can access and I cannot wait to do so. Here’s my top five musicals I’m looking forward to seeing in 2019.
When I look back on 2018, it will be my theatre going experiences that I look back on most fondly. I’ve been fortunate enough to see musicals in Stuttgart, on Broadway and in the West End. This lists attempts to rank which shows stood out and connected with me the most when I saw them. Going into these shows at first, I wouldn’t have expected my top five to be in this order – but here it is – my countdown to my top five theatre experiences in 2018.