My Favourite Shows of 2016

Hasn't 2016 just flown by? And what a fabulously stagey year it's been! Personally, this year I visited New York for the first time ever and caught three Broadway shows (Allegiance, The Color Purple and Finding Neverland), put my German AS level to use in Austria while watching Anatevka (aka The Fiddler on The Roof) at the Volksoper Wien, and travelled up to Edinburgh to review new musicals as part of the Network of Independent Critics!

As always, with January just around the corner it's time for me to look back on the last year and pick out my top five favourite shows of the year. Last year I selected Matthew Bourne's The Car Man as my number 1. 

This year it's been so difficult for me to collate a personal top 5 list because I've seen such a wide range of shows ranging from million dollar Broadway productions to tiny productions in back rooms. However, after careful consideration I've finally managed to come to a decision, and so without further ado, here are my personal top 5 shows of 2016...

Amber Riley's performance as Effie White quite simply flawed me. The power behind her vocals literally brought me to tears and I can see many awards coming her way in 2017! The production itself was just gorgeous to look at, with so much sparkle courtesy of the Swarovski crystal embellished costumes and sets. West End musicals don't really get much bigger than this one.

A beautiful, sumptuous production of a really sweet if a little bit dated musical. Seeing it in December provided a wonderful bit of pre Christmas warmth to my theatregoing. Scarlett Strallen and Mark Umbers were hugely likable leads, and the supporting performances were totally first rate.  

Groundhog Day was incredible.... Groundhog Day was incredible... Groundhog Day was incredible... Groundhog Day was incredible.... Groundhog Day was incredible... Groundhog Day was incredible...Groundhog Day was incredible.... Groundhog Day was incredible... Groundhog Day was incredible...

Despite receiving a number of less than favourable reviews from many critics, no show this year made me laugh, gasp and recoil quite as much as Hand To God did! Sure, there was a lot of gleeful violence, bad language, and some audacious themes, but underneath its irreverent exterior there was a lot of heart and some important messages. Plus the cast, led masterfully by Harry Melling, were uniformly excellent! It was a shame to see Hand To God close as I'd recommended it to so many people. Maybe one day we'll see the show back in the UK in some capacity. Fingers crossed!

Gut wrenching, tragic, uplifting, and triumphant all at once! Titanic at the Charing Cross Theatre is a show which I wish I'd seen again and again. A hugely talented cast worked incredibly well, switching between their main, supporting and ensemble characters seamlessly in order to make the Charing Cross Theatre's tiny stage appear to bustle with life. I still think back to this incredible, heartbreaking show from time to time, and it never fails to make my heart flutter! Without a doubt, Titanic was my favourite show of 2016.

So there we go! I've loved looking back over my theatregoing year, and reminiscing about all the excellent shows I've seen, because there have been so many. I still find myself humming the title song from Paper Hearts, a new musical which I reviewed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Legally Blonde at the Leicester Curve was always going to impress me as the musical itself is one of my all time favourites, and undoubtedly Lazarus at the King's Cross Theatre has been my most discussed musical of 2016. I saw it twice and I'm still not 100% sure I understand what was going on during it, but it was certainly a spectacle, and one which almost everyone is eager to compare theories about! 

All in all 2016 has been a great year for theatre, and next year is already shaping up to be just as good, with shows like 42nd Street, An American In Paris, oh and a little old musical named Hamilton all due to open. No doubt there'll be tons of surprises in store for theatre fans up and down the country!