Well, we made it, just. 2017 passed by with just the 346 visits to the theatre, I don’t really know why I do it to myself! Out of those, 33 were return visits to shows I’d already seen and I got out of London for 32 shows – not too bad considering I don’t do Edinburgh and no one is covering my travel expenses!
For the round-up, I’ve not included Roman Tragedies (which would have been very high indeed) as I’d seen it before and ranked it #1 that year. (Conversely, I didn’t include Hamilton when I saw that last year, which is why it is on this year’s list – my blog, my inconsistent rules!). And changing things up a little in reflection of what I want to the site to be, I’m not going to be doing a least-favourite list, nor a Leading Man feature – make of that what you will.
The Revlon Girl, Park Theatre
Getting to revisit this show after attending a reading a couple of years ago was an enormous privilege. And knowing in advance what it was going to do made it all the more achingly poignant in its study of life after Aberfan, I didn’t cry like that in another theatre all year long, I didn’t ovate like that either. One to watch out for should it ever return.
A Little Night Music, Watermill Theatre
Maybe I’m biased – this is where the blog gets its name from after all – but Paul Foster’s production at the gorgeous Watermill Theatre was masterly. Actor-musicianship at its best, Josefina Gabrielle elevating ‘Send in the Clowns’ to the gods, a sexy man in uniform…what more do you want from your Sondheim?!
Barber Shop Chronicles, National Theatre
A show that utterly transformed what it felt like to sit in the Dorfman. I could watch two hours of the pre-show entertainment, in all honesty, it was so entertaining, but Inua Ellams’ study of black masculinity was a vital piece of writing
Hamilton, Victoria Palace Theatre
If I hadn’t seen it on Broadway this would probably have been #1. As it is, the gap between this top 4 was infinitesimal and there’s no doubting that Hamilton is an extraordinary success that will hopefully live long at the newly refurbished Victoria Palace.
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, Crucible/Apollo Theatre
Whilst I’m delighted it is doing so well in London, it felt important to see this show in Sheffield, its spiritual home as well as its literal setting, new musical theatre writing that is forward-thinking in so many ways, not least its presentation of diversity.
An Octoroon, Orange Tree Theatre
And speaking of diversity, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins made us all think a lot harder than we’re used to about race and how it is presented on our stages. A triumph for the Orange Tree and the deserved recipient of a NT transfer in the summer.
Follies, National Theatre
The head-dresses! The costumes! Every aspect of the design! The Dee! The Quast! The Staunton!This may not be a perfect show but this was the perfect production of it.
Romantics Anonymous, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse
Emma Rice bade farewell to the Globe in the most Emma Rice-ish way possible, with a glorious new musical that brought sound, light and chocolate-making into the Sam Wanamaker like never before (and probably never again!).
Hamlet, Almeida Theatre
A thought-provoking, modern interpretation that showed Robert Icke (after last year’s Mary Stuart) really establishing his place as one of our most exciting, innovative directors. Andrew Scott wasn’t bad either…
The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾, Menier Chocolate Factory
I really thought this warm-hearted British musical would have given the Menier another West End transfer but apparently, it wasn’t to be. A real shame as it was really rather good.