It’s that time of year, folks. Time to bring you the top 10 shows I loved in 2017. Across the entire year, I saw 115 shows, a number of which I had seen before but that didn’t stop me. I went to New York with my parents and managed to squeeze in 1 concert, 1 Off-Broadway show and 4 Broadway shows. I took multiple trips to the National Theatre, to smaller off west end shows and started reviewing a lot more shows. Without further ado, I present my top 10 shows of the year.
10) The Barbershop Chronicles @ National Theatre
The Barbershop Chronicles was a surprise hit for me. After hearing my friend Asher rave about it, I managed to bag myself a ticket to the last matinee of the initial run at the National. This 90 minute play transforms the Dorfman at the National into 6 barbershops across the world from Uganda to Nigeria to Peckham, London. The show is brilliantly delivered by a group of 12 actors, more than half play multiple characters too. It is exceptionally directed by Bijan Sheibani who brings to life the heart, soul and humour of Inua Ellams’ play.
The Barbershop Chronicles is back at the National until 9th January 2018. You can read my initial review here and find more information about the show here.
9) Romantics Anonymous @ The Globe
In her final season as Artistic Director, Emma Rice along with Michael Kooman and Christopher have brought to life a musical adaption of the French film Les Émotifs Anonymes. The show follows two socially anxious people who find their way through the world to each other through a love of chocolate. After hearing much acclaim from critics and fellow bloggers, I decided to take my friend Olivia at Rewrite This Story for her birthday and both of us ended up loving it. Olivia was vlogging when we went and you can watch that here. Unfortunately the run at The Globe ends January 6th so snap up your tickets quickly. I did a full review here and you can find tickets and more information on the show here.
8) Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour @ Duke of York’s Theatre
After I missed the initial run of the show at the National, I was super excited to finally catch the show during it’s West End transfer. Lee Hall adapted Alan Warner’s novel The Sopranos about an all female Scottish choir, who travel to Edinburgh for a contest. Featuring the music of the ELO, the 90 minute show was such an well presented exploration of what it means to be a teenage girl. Unfortunately, the show did close earlier this year, but I highly recommend picking up the playtext. You can read my full review of the show here.
7) Thebes Land @ Arcola Theatre
After a much acclaimed run at the Arcola in 2016, I was excited that the Arcola Theatre brought the show back as part of the CASA Latin American Theatre Festival, even more so that I was kindly asked to review the show. This is one of the hardest shows to describe as the plot is filled with twists and turns that reading spoilers could potentially ruin the whole show. The basic plot of the show follows a playwright who is writing a play about a boy who has killed his father. That’s really all I can say!
It’s an exceptionally well written and very meta play and I do hope it will come back one day. You can read my initial review of Thebes Land here.
6) Speech and Debate @ Trafalgar Studios 2
I saw Speech and Debate very early in the year and it is still one of my favourite plays that I’ve seen this year. The play follows three high school students who join their school’s Speech and Debate team after a scandal on one of their teachers leaks. Starring three excellent leads in Douglas Booth, Patsy Ferran and Tony Revolori, Speech and Debate remains to be one of the most humorous and delightfully well written plays that I’ve seen this year. It’s a shame the run was quite short at the Trafalgar Studios, but you can read my initial review here.
5) Network @ National Theatre
I only saw Network about a month ago and I couldn’t NOT put Network in my top 10. A two hour masterpiece directed by Ivo Van Hove stars Bryan Cranston as Howard Beale, a newscaster who announces his plan to commit suicide live on air. This leads to his plan to be completely capitalised by the news network’s producers in to gaining more views. Network is still playing in rep at the National Theatre, Lyttleton and you can read my mini review of the show here.
4) Yank! @ Charing Cross Theatre
For some reason, when I saw Yank! one the summer, I didn’t end up reviewing it, which I should’ve done because it was absolutely incredible. Yank! is about Stu and Mitch and the relationship that forms between them in the war during their time as soldiers and how their relationship is affected when Stu leaves to become a journalist at a magazine for soldiers – Yank!. This was a surprise hit for me, having known absolutely nothing about the plot nor score and only hearing great acclaim, which the show lived up to. With an absolutely infectious score, reminiscent of 1950s love ballads and unbelievable choreography (including an ambitious tap number), Yank! was an absolute treat in London during Pride and I hope it comes back soon.
(Since I didn’t write a review, you can read Olivia at Rewrite The Story’s review here for a more in-depth look)
3) Hamilton @ Richard Rogers Theatre/Victoria Palace Theatre
Of course, Hamilton was going to end up on my list! Why wouldn’t it? It is the most iconic and generation defining musical of the century. I’ve been very lucky to see the show at its home on Broadway and I’ve now seen it twice at the Victoria Palace Theatre in London. If you think the incredible hip-hop infused score is enough to hook you into the show you are wrong. A mix of an incredibly talented ensemble, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s score, Thomas Kail’s direction, Alex Lacamoire’s orchestrations and Andy Blankenbuehler’s choreography work hand in hand perfectly to drive the almost 3 hour piece. It’s fitting that a show about a revolution is, indeed, revolutionary in the musical theatre world. You can read my review of the Broadway production here and I plan to do a post dedicated to the West End cast of Hamilton early 2018, so watch this space.
2) Dear Evan Hansen @ Music Box Theatre
A well deserved winner of the 2017 Best New Musical award at the Tonys, I have never experienced a show where my eyes are red from sobbing at the end. Dear Evan Hansen is the most gut wrenching yet uplifting, relatable musical I have seen in my entire life. I booked the show on a complete whim at the beginning of the year and I’m so glad I got to experience this musical. Ben Platt’s performance as Evan is career defining and will go down in musical theatre history as one of the greats. You can check out my review of the Broadway production here.
1) Angels In America @ National Theatre.
The National Theatre’s production of Angels in America completely swept me off my feet back in May when I settled in my seat in the Lyttleton for Tony Kushner’s 8 hour epic two parter play. Featuring a cast including Andrew Garfield, Nathan Lane and Denise Gough, director Marianne Elliott really had brought together the best of the best. Angels In America was moving, funny, ambitious, emotional and is, hands down, the best written play I have ever seen and that’s precisely why it is my number 1 show of the year. I discussed the show in brief in a post here as well as another post here. I broke my bank balance by buying return tickets to see this faultless show for a second time at the National and the live broadcast. And yet I still wish I was seeing it on Broadway.
What made your top 10 list?
This is going to be my last post for the year, so I shall see you in 2018!
2017 was such a sick year for theatre . some of my highlights were yerma, hedda gabler, 1984, NYT/frantic assembly’s Othello, Beginning
I saw less than 10 shows in 2017. The musicals represent each year for each. I will tell you my top two shows for 2017.
1. Rent- after waiting 5 years, I finally saw Rent live. I was an emotional wreck watching this musicals.
2. Les Mis- yes, I love Les Mis more than Rent, but it was the wait that made Rent represent this year of musicals. I saw the North American tour. It was my 5th time seeing this show. Just like Rent, I was an emotional wreck plus I got goosebumps watching it
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Ah I adore both of those shows! Last year’s touring production of Rent was SO so good. Love Les Miserables too, that’s my favourite show!
I saw Rent in September with my parents. We sat up in the Mezzanine towards the center. The cast was incredible in so many ways.
Les Mis- so glad I got to see it again. The touring production is incredible. I came in deciding not to compare it to my West End cast or staging to get the most out of the tour.