Musical Theatre 2015 – a reflection – what was your favourite?

Musical Theatre Review reflects on an incredibly busy year of theatre – in the West End, on the London Fringe, across the UK and in New York – and pick four shows from each month that topped the FOUR and FIVE star ratings with our contributors.

The results may surprise you…

10383651_10152929443805743_3790076554636403814_n-259x300JANUARY

Whistle Down the Wind continues at the Union Theatre, London until 21 February.

Star rating: four stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ✩

‘Leaving the audience with stirred hearts and moist eyes, the Union’s all-adult revival is an undoubted success.’

Into the Woods (Roundabout Theatre Company’s Laura Pels Theatre, New York).

Star rating: five stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

‘The populous cast of fairy tale characters, who come together as they trek through the woods each on their own individual quest for wish fulfilment, emerge as deftly drawn, three-dimensional people.’

A Little Night Music 40th anniversary concert (Palace Theatre, London).

Star rating: four stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ✩

‘What can be said without fear of contradiction is that blissful music was gloriously performed with singing that fully measured up to it.’

Honeymoon in Vegas (Nederlander Theatre, New York).

Star rating: four stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ✩

‘There’s nothing to take seriously about Honeymoon in Vegas, except for the craft of putting together a highly entertaining happy-go-lucky musical. That craft is on serious display in this new Broadway offering.’

Katie Brayben and Alan Morrissey in Beautiful – The Carole King Musical at the Aldwych Theatre. Picture: Brinkhoff/Moegenburg

Katie Brayben and Alan Morrissey in Beautiful – The Carole King Musical at the Aldwych Theatre. Picture: Brinkhoff/Moegenburg

FEBRUARY

Anything Goes (New Wimbledon Theatre and Touring).

Star rating: five stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

‘It is the triple threat brilliance of Debbie Kurup that holds the show together… she fully merits elevation to lead status as the glamorous Reno Sweeney.’

The Goodbye Girl (Upstairs at the Gatehouse, London).

Star rating: four stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ✩

‘This soft-centred musical version of Neil Simon’s witty Oscar-nominated film has a sweet nature, a good heart and wonderful chemistry between the leads Paul Keating and Rebecca Bainbridge.’

She Loves Me (Landor Theatre, London).

Star rating: four stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ✩

‘Charlotte Jaconelli has a lovely innocence about her acting but it is her remarkable soprano that commands the small upstairs space.’

Beautiful – The Carole King Musical (Aldwych Theatre, London).

Star rating: four stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ✩

‘Marc Bruni’s production provides an evening of unalloyed musical pleasure.’

Pamela Raith Photography Adrian Mole The Musical - Joel Fossard-Jones as Adrian Mole_154

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾ – The Musical at Curve Leicester. Picture: Pamela Raith Photography

MARCH

Jerry’s Girls (St James Studio, London).

Star rating: four stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ✩

‘That ideal finale ‘The Best of Times’ brings down the curtain on a high-octane evening that goes by seemingly in the blink of an eye.’

Hamilton (The Public Theater, New York).

Star rating: five stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

‘Whatever tweaking Lin-Manuel Miranda and his splendidly simpatico director Thomas Kail may do, I think they can rest assured they have already created something new and powerful in Hamilton.’

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾ – The Musical (Curve Leicester).

Star rating: four stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ✩

‘If it doesn’t get to the West End, I’ll eat my (school) hat.’

Sweeney Todd (Harrington’s Pie & Mash Shop, Shaftesbury Avenue, London).

Star rating: five stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

‘This new production of Sweeney Todd might just be the best version you’ll ever experience.’

Gypsy

Imelda Staunton and Lara Pulver in Gypsy at the Savoy Theatre. Picture: Roy Tan

APRIL

An American in Paris (Palace Theatre, New York).

Star rating: five stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

An American in Paris has arrived on Broadway, uncorking an intoxicating brew of glorious dance and gorgeous music.’

Gypsy (Savoy Theatre, London).

Star rating: five stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

‘In truth, five stars is nowhere near enough for Staunton’s exquisitely-nuanced performance.’

Fun Home (Circle in the Square Theatre, New York).

Star rating: five stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Fun Home, has made the journey from Off-Broadway with minimal damage to its enthrallingly delicate structure.’

Bugsy Malone (Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, London).

Star rating: five stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Bugsy Malone is a joyous celebration of childhood – let loose with the ultimate dressing-up box, these kids are having a blast, and the fun is infectious.’

Kim Criswell

Kim Criswell and Evelyn Hoskins in Carrie at the Southwark Playhouse, London. Picture: Vivienne Vincent

MAY

Something Rotten! (St James Theatre, New York).

Star rating: five stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

‘A laugh-strewn course for brushing up your Shakespeare and your Musical IQ.’

Carrie (Southwark Playhouse, London).

Star rating: four stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ✩

‘One is left with a sense that we have witnessed the emergence of a fearsome talent in Evelyn Hoskins, and that the spectre of failure that has haunted Carrie may finally have been laid to rest.’

High Society (Old Vic, London).

Star rating: four stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ✩

‘It’s hard not to fall in love with Maria Friedman’s swish, sparkling update.’

Avenue Q (Greenwich Theatre and Touring).

Star rating: five stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

‘The mad, bad muppets are back and they’re as filthy, foul-mouthed and funny as ever!’

The Clockmaker's Daughter, Landor Theatre, courtesy of Poppy Carter, 11

Lawrence Carmichael and Jennifer Harding in The Clockmaker’s Daughter at the Landor Theatre, London. Picture: Poppy Carter

JUNE

The Clockmaker’s Daughter (Landor Theatre, London).

Star rating: four stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ✩

‘A team effort that shines right down to the smallest part.’

Singin’ in the Rain (Kilworth House Theatre, Leicestershire).

Star rating: four stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ✩

‘As night falls here, the lighting gets more and more atmospheric and the pace gets hotter. Simply ravishing.’

Face the Music (Ye Olde Rose and Crown Theatre, London).

Star rating: five stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

‘This Depression musical deserves to be seen at any cost…’

The Baker’s Wife (Drayton Arms Theatre, London).

Star rating: four stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ✩

‘An intimate Fringe setting like the Drayton Arms suits this mini-masterpiece well.’

Picture: Rou Tan

Anna-Jane Casey, Rebecca LaChance and Michael Ball in Mack & Mabel at Chichester Festival Theatre. Picture: Roy Tan

JULY

I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change (Above the Arts Theatre, London).

Star rating: five stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

‘An evening of laughter and love that should not be missed.’

What’s It All About? Bacharach Reimagined (Menier Chocolate Factory, London).

Star rating: five stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

‘It’s like you’re hearing these classic numbers for the first time.’

Mack & Mabel (Chichester Festival Theatre and Touring).

Star rating: five stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

‘This terrific production fully earned the thunderous applause and prolonged standing ovation.’

Seven Brides For Seven Brothers (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, London).

Star rating: five stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

‘Director Rachel Kavanaugh’s compelling, enjoyable, foot-tapping show exudes quality and panache.’

grand hotel

Victoria Serra in Grand Hotel at the Southwark Playhouse, London. Picture: Roy Tan

AUGUST

Oliver! (Watermill Theatre, Bagnor, Newbury).

Star rating: five stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

‘Could this be the next national tour or West End transfer for this inspirational production house?’

Grand Hotel (Southwark Playhouse, London).

Star rating: five stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

‘Thom Southerland’s direction is tight with the pace, never wavering, moving fluidly and seamlessly from one vignette to another.’

Annie (Congress Theatre, Eastbourne and Touring).

Star rating: five stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

‘There is plenty of inventive choreography from Nick Winston that plays a large part in the success of the show.’

Mrs Henderson Presents (Theatre Royal Bath, ahead of a planned West End production).

Star rating: four stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ✩

‘Emma Williams, especially, gives a stellar performance as young tea-girl Maureen, eventually persuaded to take off her clothes and tread the boards’

Siobhan McCarthy, Dave Willetts, Niall Sheehy and Julie Atherton in Pure Imagination at St James Theatre, London. Picture: Annabel Vere

Siobhan McCarthy, Dave Willetts, Niall Sheehy and Julie Atherton in Pure Imagination at St James Theatre, London. Picture: Annabel Vere

SEPTEMBER

Parade (London Theatre Workshop).

Star rating: five stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

‘A brave, magnificent piece of theatre that is well worth your attention.’

Side By Side By Sondheim (Brockley Jack Studio Theatre, London ).

Star rating: five stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

‘If Cameron Mackintosh is looking for something from the ’burbs to open his soon-to-be-renamed Sondheim Theatre in the West End, he should get out here.’

The Who’s Tommy the Rock Opera (Blackpool Opera House).

Star rating: five stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

’An excellent showcase for former X Factor winner Joe McElderry.’

Pure Imagination – The Songs of Leslie Bricusse (St James Theatre, London).

Star rating: five stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

‘It made one marvel at the imagination of Bricusse to create such a great canon of work.’

The cast of In the Heights at the King’s Cross Theatre, London. Picture: Johan Persson

In the Heights at the King’s Cross Theatre, London. Picture: Johan Persson

OCTOBER

Showstopper! The Improvised Musical (Apollo Theatre, London).

Star rating: five stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Showstopper! is a must for every fan of musical theatre.’

Spring Awakening (Brooks Atkinson Theatre, New York).

Star rating: five stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

It goes to show that everything not-so-old can be new again.’

A Little Night Music (Ye Olde Rose and Crown Theatre, London).

Star rating: five stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

‘The cast reproduces Sondheim’s intricate words and lyrics effortlessly.’

In the Heights (King’s Cross Theatre, London).

Star rating: four stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ✩

‘It’s produced here with such style, such conviction, that it must be a part of any theatregoer’s experience.’

Carly Anderson and Samuel Edwards in Xanadu at the Southwark Playhouse, London. Picture: Paul Coltas

Carly Anderson and Samuel Edwards in Xanadu at the Southwark Playhouse, London. Picture: Paul Coltas

NOVEMBER

Xanadu (Southwark Playhouse, London).

Star rating: five stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

‘It becomes impossible to resist the charms of this deceptively shallow show.’

The Stationmaster (Tristan Bates Theatre, London).

Star rating: four stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ✩

‘It is a tense and moving production which holds an audience captivated.’

I Want My Hat Back (Temporary Theatre at the National Theatre, London).

Star rating: four stars ★ ★ ★ ★

‘Unlike many a promise made by children’s theatre, it really does offer something for everyone.’

On Your Feet! (Marquis Theatre, New York).

Star rating: five stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

‘The Estefans have put together a great – even inspiring – entertainment.’

Funny Girl - Sheridan Smith (Fanny Brice) - picture by Marc Brenner

Sheridan Smith in Funny Girl at the Menier Chocolate Factory, London. Picture: Marc Brenner

DECEMBER

Funny Girl (Menier Chocolate Factory, London).

Star rating: four stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ✩

‘Certainly worth seeing for an exceptional performance that carries a less-than-exceptional musical to a triumphant conclusion and standing ovation.’

The Color Purple (Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, New York).

Star rating: five stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

‘Cynthia Erivo gives the production a magnetic centre, with a grace-infused innocence that almost hints from the beginning of the backbone that will eventually make itself felt.’

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds and Touring).

Star rating: five stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

‘There is the usual pace, colour and action we have come to expect of a West Yorkshire Playhouse production, but also note-perfect singing and thrilling special effects.’

Into the Woods (Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester).

Star rating: four stars ★ ★ ★ ★

‘This handsome, exquisitely staged Royal Exchange production adheres to the unfiltered original.’

Facebooktwittergoogle_plus

Join the Conversation

Sign up to receive news and updates from Musical Theatre Review

, , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.
Copyright: Musical Theatre Review Ltd 2013. All rights reserved.