My favourite shows of 2015

Happy new year! 

Wow, is it just me or has 2015 flown by? It doesn't seem that long ago that I was looking back on 2014 and reflecting on the wonderful shows I'd seen that year, and now here we are in 2016, and wow do we have some exciting shows to look forward too! 

2016 looks like it's going to be an amazing year for theatre, but as this post's title suggests, rather that looking to the future, I'm going to be reflecting on some of what I consider to be the best shows of 2015 (I know I unfortunately never got to see dozens of hugely successful and well reviewed shows this year, but I've also been lucky enough to catch some absolute gems). I've loved reading loads of #LDNtheatrebloggers' picks and so I hope you enjoy mine...

I'm no stranger to shedding a tear or two in the theatre, but normally I'm weeping tears of sadness, not hilarity. However, when I saw Peter Pan Goes Wrong on its UK tour in January 2015 for the first time in my theatregoing life I found myself laughing so hard I couldn't breathe!

In Peter Pan Goes Wrong the jokes came thick and fast and the mishaps were ingenious and largely unpredictable. I enjoyed every single second of Peter Pan Goes Wrong and would return to see it in a heartbeat, which is fortunate as it playing at the Apollo Theatre in London until the 31st of January 2016.

4) Gypsy 

I didn't actually write a review of Gypsy for this blog, because I saw it in its very final week on the West End and by then everything that needed to be said had been said. As I expected, Gypsy STUNNED me! Imelda Staunton's performance as bullish stage mom Madame Rose was dynamic, inimitable, and frankly more than a little bit terrifying.

Although the BBC recording of Gypsy which aired during the Christmas holidays was fabulous, nothing could replicate the electric atmosphere which I experienced while watching it live. I am incredibly grateful to have experienced this show, which I'm sure will be remembered for years to come!
This creepy immersive production of Sweeney Todd was just as dark and terrifying as I'd hoped it would be. In other productions of Sweeney Todd, Todd's throat slitting has been gory and grotesque and perfectly grizzly, but of course, in the intimate pie shop setting of this production the use of fake blood would've looked unauthentic, so instead most of the murders happened offstage, and were signified by the sound of a piercing whistle being blown. A far cry from the norm, but chillingly effective nonetheless. Some of the grizzly murder moments still haunt me to this day!

This show was a dream. The cast was superb, the set and costume design was gorgeously gritty and the concept in general is so calculable but so, so unique! After all, I can't see myself getting threatened by an actor wielding a cutthroat razor inches from my face again any time soon.

Given how much everyone raved about In The Heights when it first arrived in London, I deeply regretted missing this show at the Southwalk playhouse, and so when it transferred to the Kings Cross Theatre earlier this year I booked a ticket immediately, despite being completely unfamiliar with the story or music.... but I am so glad that I did! The energy and enthusiasm of the cast was infectious, the set and lighting design was gloriously evocative and the choreography was just sizzling!

I had such an incredible time watching this show, which can best be described as joyous. And it's still running at the moment! I'll absolutely be returning to the Kings Cross Theatre see In The Heights again in 2016, and if you've not yet experienced it then I recommend you pay it a visit too!
I've seen some absolutely incredible shows this year, but without doubt the most enthralling, visceral, and spectacular one was Matthew Bourne's The Car Man. This may come as a surprise given that I mostly review musicals (it certainly came as a surprise to me!), but honestly, The Car Man was just about as slick and perfect as you could hope for! Mathew Bourne's choreography completely reinvented the characters I thought I was familiar with from the Carmen opera, but did it with such ingenuousness that now I can't imagine seeing Carmen performed differently.

The Car Man also featured a cast of truly phenomenal performers. Zizi Strallen was extraordinary as the conniving Lana, while Dominic North was both endearing and unnerving as Angelo, the man who Lana frames for the murder of her husband, so that she can be with her new lover, Luca. The role of Luca was played by the incomparable Jonathan Olliver, whose jaw dropping dance virtuosity, incredible acting and irresistible charisma fit together to form an utterly flawless performance. This show was so good that the moment I got home after my first trip, I logged on to my computer and purchased a ticket for the next days performance. Utterly, utterly stunning!
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So there we have it! It was honestly so difficult to pick just 5 shows, as there have been so many brilliant ones. I was wowed by the choreography in the Top Hat UK tour, Funny Girl at the Menier Chocolate Factory totally lived up to my high expectations, Katie Brayben's performance in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical was remarkable, and Di and Viv and Rose totally took me by surprise as one of the most emotional, relatable plays I've ever seen. I thought long and hard though, and I'm very happy with my list. It just goes to show what a brilliant 2015 I've had. I'm looking forward to finding out whether 2016 can top it! 

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful new year!

Charlotte xx

(Tragically, as you may know, dancer and star of The Car Man Jonathan Olliver lost his life earlier this year in a motorbike accident. A sold out event celebrating his achievements, which is entitled Mr Wonderful, is happening in January, with profits being placed in charitable trust funds for his two sons Lucas, 6 and Issac, 12 months. If you didn't manage to obtain a ticket to the show but would still like to make a contribution then you can visit this page