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My Top 10 Musicals of 2016

My Top 10 Musicals of 2016

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Without repeats, I saw 59 different shows this year so compiling this list has been difficult to say the least! This has been a brilliant year for theatre and through this website I really feel that I've become a part of the theatre community. 2016 has seen some brilliant big budget shows as well as smaller fringe ones, many of which have thrilled me. This list is of the shows that stuck with me long after I'd seen them and that I feel are very resonant in our 2016 world. This will probably be a bit of a long post, I have a whole year to fit in after all, so grab yourself a cuppa and some biscuits and enjoy!

This list is in reverse order, cause we all need that extra bit of excitement in our lives.

One of Paul Taylor-Mills' incredible productions of 2016. The music was performed beautifully and the touching and heartbreaking story of conjoined twins Daisy and Violet was told sincerely and gracefully by Laura Pitt-Pulford and Louise Dearman.

Did anyone not like this show? All I heard were incredible reviews and rightly so. An exciting and refreshing revival of a much loved Classic which ticked all the boxes of a hit musical. Charlie Stemp is talent on another level. I'm sure we'll be hearing plenty more good things about the show and cast in 2017!

This was my first visit to The Union Theatre and wow was it a good first. I absolutely adored this show. I was completely unfamiliar with the music and was just blown away by it. The cast were sublime and the story telling was impeccable. I'm sure this would be a huge hit if more people got to see it. 

27 must have been one of the most hyped musicals of 2016 and I could certainly see why when I saw it. It's a musical like I've never seen before, so fresh and different to what's currently on the West End stages. The plot twist at the end had me physically breathless, a stunning piece of artistry.

This was another small show but it definitely packed more than a small punch. It was sweet, pink, sassy and sumptuous. One of those shows which really made you think and reflect on your life. Lauren Samuels gave a standout performance!

I saw this show alone so the minute I stepped out of the theatre I called my friend to fangirl about it like a mad woman. I was completely awestruck by the whole performance. It was moving, funny, relevant and thought-provoking. The use of songs was done smoothly and effectively and it was overall just an A* worthy production.

This was the perfect treat to see just before Christmas. Although the story is slightly dated and everything is a little over the top, it's a fantastic production full of sweetness, heartbreak and love. Scarlett Strallen's performance was absolutely impeccable and nothing short of perfection. With the amount of people I've told to see this, I wouldn't be surprised if it gets a West End transfer in the near future. 

I've grown up with Rent so finally seeing it on stage was a very special experience for me. Each cast member is fully immersed into their roles and the whole production is raw, gritty and believable. Philippa Stefani gives the performance of a superstar and had me in floods of tears. The production will continue to tour next year and I'll certainly be seeing it again so don't be surprised if it features in my top 10 of 2017 too!

The St James theatre was on fire this year! The Last Five Years is another one which I've wanted to see on stage for years. Jason Robert Brown's story is heart-warming and heart-breaking at the same time. It's always a joy to see Samantha Barks on stage and seeing her shine as Cathy was even more wonderful because of how incredibly she showed off her effortless belt and sincere acting. The wonderful mix of simplistic staging, the stellar duo of Barks and Bailey and Jason's beautiful music, rightfully earn The Last Five Years my number two spot!

1. Dreamgirls: Savoy Theatre

If you haven't heard about Dreamgirls' triumphant return to the West End then you must have been living in a cave. This was the 2nd to last show I saw and I couldn't be happier that I could end the year on such a fantastic note. This has got to be the theatrical spectacle of the year, the sets, costumes, choreography and cast are all exquisite and I cried a bucket load of happy tears, which I never do! Go see Dreamgirls in 2017, I guarantee you'll leave singing it's praises!

So there's my top 10 shows, of course there's other brilliant ones and I'm sure your list varies but this has been a brilliant year for theatre and I can't wait to see what 2017 brings *cough* Hamilton *cough* 

But wait, where's that other show that I've been posting and tweeting about like crazy and have seen 32 times!? I haven't forgotten it, I just wanted to give it a special mention because its such a special show. So my "The Show Which Changed My Life: 2016" award goes to IN THE HEIGHTS at the Kings Cross Theatre! I've done a billion posts on it (just search it on the homepage) so I don't need to write any more soppy words but this show has seriously been my everything this year. I've met incredible people from it, both fans and cast members and I'm so incredibly grateful for that. Unfortunately I won't be at the last show as I'm in Australia (boo hoo, woe is me, right?) but I'm so sad its closing, and I'm sending all my thoughts and positive vibes to the theatre gods that they will bring it back because I will never be ready for the lights to go down on Washington Heights! Thank you In The Heights for being there and helping me and I'm sure many others, through tough times and making us feel at home in the theatre. Even if you had no idea how you were helping, I guarantee you made some tough days just that much easier. No pare sigue sigue!

I hope you had a brilliantly theatrical year too and I'd love to hear your favourites so drop me a comment on here or tweet me @OliviaMitche or @RewriteThisWeb 

Au Revoir 2016! Stay Stagey, 2017!

Snow White, New Victoria Theatre | Review

Snow White, New Victoria Theatre | Review

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A real laugh a minute show, with something for everyone

Snow White (Pantomime)
New Victoria Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday 13th December 2016 by Melanie Mitchell

I have never been a great fan of pantomime’s, I haven’t seen one for years, in fact can’t remember the last time I saw one. So I have to say, this wasn’t my idea of a great night at the theatre: silly jokes, screaming kids and forced audience participation. How wrong could I have been! Snow White is an absolute treat and the most fun I’ve had at the theatre in a long time.

A real laugh a minute show, with something for everyone. The scenery is beautiful as are the spectacular costumes and choreography with one woodland scene, reminiscent of the Beatrix Potter ballet. 

Melissa Potts makes a lovely Snow White: sweet and gentle but feisty all the same. Anne Smith as Queen Morgiana is suitably malevolent and evil but funny at the same time. Her accomplices are quite terrifying but the kids loved them! Chris Cox as Muddles really entranced the kids as well as the adults with his slapstick portrayal of the character- he played the part brilliantly. Warwick Davis as Prof is amazing, an accomplished actor and singer with great comedic timing.

Prince Wayne is played by Shaun Dalton. What can I say? Handsome, debonair and charming, he is so perfectly cast he could have been drawn by a Disney animator. He can sing too. Despite there being one dwarf less due to illness. The other six took over his role with such ease you didn’t even notice.

Andy Ford as Herman the Henchman steals the show. He is absolutely hilarious with wonderful jokes for the kids and just the right amount of smutty innuendo for the adults. He makes a great double act with Chris Cox (Muddles). Very silly but they get the comedy completely right for panto.

The whole audience were encouraged to participate all the way through the show which they did completely willingly, me included! There are lots of songs we all know, along with references to the locality which really made the audience members feel involved.

Snow White is a fun filled, festive treat for the whole family. Book now while you still can, it’ll really put you in the Christmas mood.

By the way check out the magic mirror by the grand piano in the bar, I’ll say no more!

Rent, St James Theatre | Review

Rent, St James Theatre | Review

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Measure your life in love and measure this musical in love. A brilliant revival of a much loved show which will remind you to live and love.

St James Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday 13th December 2016 by Olivia Mitchell

Rent is one of those iconic musicals which shaped a generation; its melodies and storyline are so touching that the show became a cultural phenomenon when it premiered 20 years ago off-Broadway. It tells the story of a group of people living in a New York, East Village squat who are all affected by HIV, drugs and homelessness. The show's prevailing theme is that of living in the moment: there's truly "No Day But Today."

Bruce Guthrie's production is gritty and industrial, with metal scaffolding, Christmas lights and boxes covered in graffiti creating the dim abrasive world in which the story is set. Lee Proud's choreography is fabulous, especially in La Vie Boheme and Contact. The quick, sharp movements add to the frenzied feeling of the show and add a slightly more modern feel to the show compared to other productions I've seen.

The whole company is impeccable. I cannot fault anyone; every lead and every ensemble member is completely committed to their character and the stunning voices allow Jonathan Larson's melodies to soar and dip, whilst causing the joy and pain of all those watching. Billy Cullum and Ross Hunter shine as the impoverished roommates bouncing off each other wonderfully and their performances give the base and heart to this amazing musical. Philippa Stefani as the club dancing Mimi is rough but vulnerable; I was in complete tears by the end of her performance and was just in awe of how committed to her role she was and how it clearly affected her until the very end- a mesmerising performance to watch. Ryan O'Gorman as Tom Collins is perfect casting. Ryan's voice is off the charts goose-bump inducing and he is fully emotive on every single note. The acting performances all round are faultless especially with Lucie's Jones' over the top performance as the struggling artist Maureen Johnson. Shanay Holmes as Joanne has the most incredible chemistry with Lucie- 'Take Me Or Leave Me' is certainly a standout moment.  Angel played by Layton Williams is everything and more, I need sass lessons from this wonderfully talented man!  I could go on about every other character but lets just leave it at them all being completely and utterly exemplary. The whole company is a tight unit and its clear how special this piece is to all of them.

Rent has lived on for 20 years and as we can see from the 'house full' signs outside the St James that it is still a booming and resonant success. Jonathan Larson's musical is as poignant as engaging as it ever has been. Rent is heartbreaking beautiful and will inspire a whole new generation 20 years on from its original production.

The run at the St James Theatre has currently sold out but make sure to go and see the show whilst it continues to tour around the country.

Rent Official Website:

She Loves Me, Menier Chocolate Factory | Review

She Loves Me, Menier Chocolate Factory | Review

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She Loves Me is a perfect mix of over the top sweetness and sincerity- pure joy to watch

She Loves Me
Menier Chocolate Factory
Reviewed on Thursday 8th December 2016 by Olivia Mitchell

Let's start this review by saying that She Loves Me at the Menier Chocolate Factory is definitely in my top 5 shows of 2016. I loved pretty much everything and really couldn't have asked for more from this idealistic but delightful show.

The basic idea of She Loves Me is that Amalia (Scarlett Strallen) and Georg (Mark Umbers) work together and detest each other but don't realise they are sending anonymous lonely hearts correspondences to one another whilst falling in love with the person on the page. There are also two sub-plots where we follow a heartbreaking time for the store owner Maraczek (Les Dennis) and the love trials of the giddy, Ilona (Katherine Kingsley).

Admittedly the story is cliched and somewhat predictable but that doesn't matter because for two and a half hours I escaped every day life to visit a sickly sweet and nostalgic world full of wonderful moments, sweet smells and fabulous music. Matthew White's revival of the 1963 show has the humour, wit, charm and above all sincerity to make it a truly great production.

The set by is fairly simple but super effective. The four small revolves which transition each scene to the next perfectly, fit so well in the intimate Menier Chocolate Factory but I can definitely see the beautiful set being easily transferred to a much bigger West End stage (which hopefully it will!) The shop design is especially beautiful with lots of intricate details which create a spectacle to look at. 

Scarlett Strallen is outstanding as Amalia Balash, her beautiful soprano voice rings out effortlessly and her comedic timing is impeccable. She makes  over the top and crazily idealistic Amalia, lovable and relatable- a positively dazzling performance. Mark Umbers as Georg Nowack is equally brilliant. Showing a number of different sides and gradually transitioning from a stiff, cold man to a romantic, caring gentleman. Each ensemble member gives an individual and memorable performance. Katherine Kingsley is hilarious as Ilona and had the audience laughing out loud throughout the show; every movement and facial expression is perfectly timed to create a fantastic character.

There's not a weak link in the cast and this whole production is a sweet as a music box's tune. I'm definitely hoping for a West End transfer as She Loves Me is sure to delight any audience member and make them fall in love with this sweet, festive, heart-warming musical.

She Loves Me runs at the Menier Chocolate Factory until 4th March

Peter Pan, National Theatre | Review

Peter Pan, National Theatre | Review

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Peter Pan is an imaginative production, brimming with life and enthusiasm... Sure to thrill every audience member who witnesses it!

Peter Pan
The Olivier Theatre, National Theatre
Reviewed on Friday 2nd December 2016 by Olivia Mitchell
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