We started 2016 with the determination to see one different production per calendar month.
Personally I managed 24 over the 12 months.
In addition there were the shows that we returned to having seen them in 2015 and the long runners that we went back to after a break of a couple of years.
Then there were the reapeat visits, school productions, concerts etc so that takes me to 55 theatrical ‘events’.
I’ve tried to compile a top 10 of my ‘never seen until 2016’. It’s not been easy and I may look back on this in months to come and change the order but here goes!
10: Legally Blonde – Curve
9: Sideshow – Southwark
8: Mormon – Prince of Wales
7: Funny Girl – Savoy
6: Showboat- New London
5: Groundhog Day- Old Vic
4: Titanic – Charing Cross
3: Allegro – Southwark
2: Toxic Avenger – Southwark
1: She Loves Me – Menier
As I said it was tricky and there were a few others I wanted to include. The Hired Man in Concert was fantastic but as a one off event I haven’t included that and Curious Incident and Roadshow could easily have been contenders. Yes it is hard to believe that until 2016 I hadn’t seen Curious, Mormon or Legally Blonde!
Tuesday 1st June, 2.30pm
With a score by Jule Styne and echoes of its predessessor, Gypsy, Funny Girl does not fail to provide the audience with bold, emotional numbers; perfect vehicles for a star performer. At a time when many productions are moving away from the use of fuller orchestras, the depth of the overture and entr’acte, and indeed the use of the orchestra throughout the show,are to be lauded. The original book, written by Isobel Lennart sets a clear narrative throughout the first act, seeing Fanny grow from unsuccessful chorus girl to a seasoned theatrical performer; strong in her chosen career and her relationship with Nick Arnstein. The second act is rather more ambiguous and, knowing the story of Fanny Brice, appears to have aspects that are left unresolved. This lack of clarity for the audience, despite later additions and revision to the book, from Harvey Fierstein, has been overcome by the strength of this production itself.
Having booked to see Funny Girl purely because: a) it’s Funny Girl, so why wouldn’t you? And b) because we couldn’t get tickets for it’s Menier run I wasn’t affected by a great desire to see any particular cast member. Instead I was in to watch purely on the strength of the original work.
Natasha Barnes, currently covering in the absence of Sheridan Smith was an absolute joy to watch. From the moment she appeared on stage you could feel the entire audience supporting her. A case of life mirroring art was definitely prevalent and she left a sense that she certainly is a star in the making. Everything was given in this performance; comic timing, facial expressions, mannerisms all having us transfixed. Her renditions of the well known numbers including I’m the greatest star, People, Don’t Rain on My Parade were sung with an air of vulnerability and showed the humanity of Fanny Brice, rather than someone with a desperate need to perform at any cost. Natasha Barnes was certainly in touch with the emotions of the character through these big numbers but also displayed power and strength.
The onstage chemistry between Fanny and Nick Arnstein, played by Darius Campbell worked well. Arnstein is an interesting character who left me pondering; is he a complete ne’er do well gambler and chancer or is he pushed by Fanny’s increasing success to gamble in order to prevent him being a ‘kept man’? I was never totally convinced either way but he was a charmer.
With designs by Muchael Pavelka and direction from Michael Mayer, Funny Girl has great production values that enhanced but did not draw attention away from the fantastic performances given by entire cast. The standing ovation at the end was entirely deserved. My only regret is not to have the time to see this again.
There would appear to be a growing list of things to see soon or book ahead for. It’s a bit aspirational as I’ve no idea where to find the time for this lot or indeed the funds!
- Radio Times
- Show Boat (for a 2nd time)
- The HP plays
- Les Mis with a Hollie as Epinine date
- Kinky Boots (with new cast)
- The Wedding Singer
- Threepenny opera
- An American in Paris
- School of Rock
- Million Dollar Quartet (tour)
- Sound of Music (tour)
- Sunny Afternnoon (tour)
- Commitments (tour)
Wow I hadn’t realised it would be that long a list!
And the things booked already:
- The Hired Man Concert
- Commitments (tour)
Slight imbalance between to book and already planned!
I’m sure there’s something vital I’ve missed off my ‘to see’ list.
The whole review/ writing about/ commenting upon different theatrical experiences could be a minefield. Here’s what to expect!
- Considered opinion
- My view of the whole experience from start to finish.
What you WON’T get:
- Unnecessary personal comments
The idea of writing my theatre related thoughts has been something I’ve thought of doing for a while. A sort of dumping ground for the thoughts I currently share with people fairly close to me? who tend to converse rather than judge, and a scrappy notebook.
It’s a pretty difficult decision to make. Will I have time? Will anyone bother to read? Will I unintentionally offend anyone? But probably the most common thought of all: will I be thick skinned enough to cope with those who deride any comments I make in an destructive or personal manner? Only time will tell.