This production of The Phantom of the Opera is spectacular in the truest sense and even the most curmudgeonly of spectators will find something to enthuse over.
Aspects of Love may perhaps benefit from a modern reworking to iron out the more distasteful elements, but it should be fondly remembered.
A surprise hit of 2015 and also included on a number of #Theatre2015 top picks, our top recommendation in the #MatesChoice ticket series is Bend It Like Beckham. Playing to audiences at the Phoenix Theatre on Charing Cross Road in the heart of the West End and with music by Howard Goodall and lyrics by Charles Hart, this show has become a fond favourite of Mates co-founder Mark Shenton.
This is the one where critics who spend most of their time in the theatre show off their football knowledge. In my case, it won’t take long. In fact one of the best things about Bend It Like Beckham is that you don’t have to give a referee’s toss about the beautiful game, and you don’t need to have seen the 2002 movie.
The reviews are in, and there’s no doubt about it – the West End musical makeover of Bend It Like Beckham has scored big with the critics. Perhaps the show’s impeccable timing – as the Women’s World Cup takes place in Canada and Fifa continues to reel from its corruption scandals – helped, but it seems the real success of the show comes down to the teamwork of the creatives and a 30-strong company.
Rejoice! In the midst of Fifa’s dismal doings musical theatre makes football beautiful again. Gurinder Chadha’s and Paul Mayeda Berges’ fable, of a British-Asian teenage girl longing to play football rather than cook dhal and live traditionally, was beloved on screen but emerges all the stronger for being driven by Howard Goodall’s music and Charles Hart’s lyrics. It’s a lovely show, with the rare quality in musicals of feeling all-of-a-piece: one solid creation by a team who understand one another and were allowed to get on with it.