Another constant for over 40 years was Al Hirschfeld, whose highly distinctive line drawing caricatures of Broadway accompanied the New York Times reviews of new openings. No one elevated the simple line drawing embodiment of Broadway to an art form in its own right quite as he did.
Hitting the road: Love London Love Culture offers a guide to shows touring in 2023
Remember it’s not just the West End where excellent shows can be found. Here’s a guide to some of the shows we can’t wait to catch on tour.
‘The talent of these kids is astounding’: BUGSY MALONE – Alexandra Palace Theatre & Touring
When I heard that the touring production of the Lyric Hammersmith’s Theatre production of Alan Parker’s Bugsy Malone The Musical, was going to stop at Ally Pally for six weeks over Christmas and New Year, I became very excited that I would finally get to see this version of the classic musical in such an appropriately styled venue.
‘It’s a show where the ensemble are the star’: NEWSIES – Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre ★★★★
I love it when the theatre perfectly fits the show. Artists can overcome a wrong space, but there’s gleeful concord when it suits this well. The vast new hangar-like Troubadour uses all its height and industrial chic to convey New York 1899 in Newsies: fire-escapes, iron balconies, vast billboard for the Santa Fe railroad, walls all newsprint and windows and washing lines.
‘Live entertainment has come back with an encouraging roar’: Alun Hood celebrates his Top 20 new theatre shows of 2022
As somebody who loves a listicle plus a bandwagon to jump on, how could I NOT compile my list of my top 20 new (to me) shows of 2022? It’s been 12 months in which live entertainment has come back with an encouraging roar, although the impending cost of living crisis is inevitably, and understandably, causing anxiety in theatrical circles. Please do get out there, if you can, and support your local venue in 2023.
‘A story of great-heartedness’: MANDELA – Young Vic Theatre ★★★★
This world premiere of Mandela at the Young Vic Theatre, by Laiona Michelle and composers Shaun and Greg Dean Borowsky, acknowledges “proud partnership” with his family, tells the story with impassioned and rightly partisan simplicity. Michael Luwoye is a towering Mandela: idealistic, sorrowful at violence, deploying his familiar humour and unresentful humanity.
‘A kind of triumph’: MOTHER GOOSE – Duke of York’s Theatre & Touring ★★★★★
The pleasure of Mother Goose at the Duke of York’s Theatre is in the feeling that despite the topflight cast and the direction of Cal McCrystal, peerless physical comedy guru, it has the feeling of a local panto, even a community one. No big technical showpieces, but plenty of old-fashioned gags: puppets popping out of pans, a ‘self-raising flower’ swannee-whistling up from a table, a custard pie scene and rapid costume changes.
REVIEW ROUND-UP: Merrily We Roll Along at New York Theatre Workshop
We round up the reviews for the Off-Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim’s musical starring Merrily We Roll Along starring Daniel Radcliffe, Jonathan Groff and Lindsay Mendez.
‘An unexpectedly brilliant retelling of the Victorian tale’: DOLLY PARTON’S SMOKY MOUNTAIN CHRISTMAS CAROL – Southbank Centre ❄ ❄ ❄ ❄
Though the title is a bit of a mouthful, Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Christmas Carol is an unexpectedly brilliant retelling of the Victorian tale. With Robert Bathurst as Scrooge and a live band onstage, you can’t go too far wrong.
‘It’s pretty hard not to be won over’: NEWSIES – Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre
This London premiere of Newsies at Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre has already extended bookings until next spring and, if the ecstatic – verging on hysterical – first night reaction was any indication, it’ll be opening up ticket sales for beyond then fairly soon. One would imagine this was always the intention of principal producers Runaway Entertainment (in partnership with Disney Theatrical and a few others) who have clearly spared no expense in presenting this London Newsies.
‘Feelgood, festive escapism the classic musical theatre way’: WHITE CHRISTMAS – Touring ★★★★
Following a successful West End engagement at the Dominion back in 2019, White Christmas has been taken on the road for the 2022 festive season. This time round, the Irving Berlin classic musical stars Jay McGuiness, Dan Burton, Jessica Daley, Monique Young, Lorna Luft and Michael Starke – and of course includes several renditions of the famous title song.
REVIEW ROUND-UP: Mandela at the Young Vic Theatre
Discover what critics have had to say about Mandela at the Young Vic Theatre, the new musical based on the life of Nelson Mandela.
‘Brilliantly inventive adaptation’: SCROOGELICIOUS – Theatre Peckham
Adapted by Geoff Aymer (the writer of last year’s excellent production The Wonderful), with Theatre Peckham’s artistic director Suzann McLean once more at the helm as director, Scroogelicious re-imagines the miserly protagonist as a property developer responsible for the gentrification of Peckham.
‘The energy & precision is truly mesmerising’: NEWSIES – Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre ★★★★
As temperatures soar below zero, the heat is definitely up at the Troubadour theatre in Wembley as the venue’s long awaited production of Newsies sizzles and soars.
‘Everything is poured in to give the show a chance’: Hex – National Theatre
Everyone’s got mental health issues in Hex: which is the Sleeping Beauty story extended to the troublesome folk-tale aftermath. The tousled Fairy has no wings and low status, while snobbish ones float gorgeously overhead in light-rippling 20ft robes.
‘I left having cried tears of both joy & empathy’: BETTY! A SORT OF MUSICAL – Manchester ★★★★★
Reviewer: Daniel Shipman Upstaged Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ The Royal Exchange has a solid reputation for outstanding, non-pantomime Christmas shows, and Betty (written by and starring Maxine Peake) is no exception. Described as ‘a sort of musical’, Betty follows the misadventures of…
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‘Such warmth, inclusivity & pure joy’: JACK! – Chickenshed Theatre
It’s the festive season, and of all the Christmas shows on offer this year, I’m not sure they could possibly come much bigger than Chickenshed’s Jack! Playing is believing… As ever, the North London theatre company’s end-of-year spectacular is staggering in its ambition, with a cast of 800 in total across four revolving rotas. And if that inevitably means that at times things get a bit chaotic, it’s a small price to pay for a show with such warmth, inclusivity and pure joy.
‘Continues to sparkle’: THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW – Touring ★★★★★
The Rocky Horror Show started as a tiny fringe production upstairs at the Royal Court, nearly 50 years ago. Over time it has grown and developed, but still retains the connection with fans with the constant breaking of the fourth wall, and encouraged callbacks (example: when Janet is first mentioned, you shout “Slut!”).
‘There’s so much joy & heart’: LA MAUPIN – Lion & Unicorn Theatre
La Maupin is a folk punk musical celebrating this queer icon, written by Olivia Thompson and performed by a small cast of actor-musicians from female-led theatre company Fantastic Garlands. The story follows Julie on a rollercoaster ride as she runs from the law, fights in duels, joins the opera, falls in and out of love with men and women alike, moves to Paris, gets another death sentence – and does it all while being unequivocally, unapologetically herself, even when everything and everyone seems to be against her.
‘A performance for the ages’: FUNNY GIRL – Broadway
No doubt about it, Lea Michele is the Greatest Star, singlehandedly salvaging a train wreck of a revival and tuning it into a white hot hit. Not seen on Broadway since its original 1964 production, Funny Girl returns with a redesign of the 2016 London production, retaining direction by Michael Mayer and updates to Isobel Lennart’s original book by show-doctor Harvey Fierstein.