This weekend my family saw Les Miserablé on the West End. It was a joint christmas/ birthday present to my Mum, sister & I from our good friends (basically family) Chris & Lizz & it was brilliant.
I’ve grown up with theatre. My family all adores it & regulary took me to shows – my cousin Ellie is now even a stage manager, but more on that in a bit. A good friend of my Mum who lives in London also used to host a yearly tradition of taking my sister & I to a London show for our birthday when we growing up, & then between my personal life & life as an english & drama student I saw tons of shows. All in all, over the years I’ve amassed quite a lot of stage shows. There’s something about the atmosphere of a theatre & seeing a live story played out for you that I can’t get enough of, that also never fails to inspire me.
This year is already looking pretty exciting for theatre trips; yesterday was Les Mis, next Friday it’s Lazarus & the week after National Theatre’s production of Hedda Gabler, before Mamma Mia in March. I’m pretty hyped.
I haven’t ever really written about theatre on here apart from one rare review back in May so I think it’s about time I changed that.
Here’s just a small handful of the best shows I’ve ever seen live on stage:
By Peter Farago & Cameron Mackintosh
Queen’s Theatre, London
This was an incredible experience. We went up yesterday, some excited to see it for the first time, Chris excited to be seeing it for the fifth time & it really does live up to the hype. It’s a brilliant musical that’s so well put together, & the London production is so technically brilliant it’s stunning to watch. What made this visit even better was that due to my cousin Ellie being Deputy Stage Manager on the show we got to have a backstage tour – complete with a go on the stage’s revolve.
It was incredible.
The Toxic Avenger
By Joe DiPietro & David Bryan
Southwark Playhouse, London
Please. If you ever get the chance to see this, do yourself a favour & buy tickets. Yes, it’s based on Lloyd Kaufman’s 1984 B-Movie of the same name, but this musical adaptation is literally the funniest show I’ve ever seen. The songs & story was incredible, & the cast just phenomenal. If you need more convincing, there’s a song called Bitch/Slut/Liar/Whore.
The End of Longing
By Matthew Perry
Playhouse Theatre, Embankment, London
Though it will go down in history as the reason why Matthew Perry was unable to attend last year’s Friends reunion, I have such happy memories of this – not because the actual show was mind-blowing or life changing, but because I went with my cousin Robyn & we were in fits of giggles all night because we were seeing Matthew Perry in the flesh in a show he had written. W could not handle it – I wrote a little thing about it here.
People, Places & Things
By Duncan MacMillan
National Theatre, London
I queued at 9am to get cheap day tickets from the theatre & managed to nab the very last ticket for that night’s performance of the show to later go on & win a Best Actress Olivier Award for Denise Gough’s performance in lead role. It’s about a young actress & her journey back from addiction through rehab & it it stunningly moving, frightening & hilarious. Literally everything about it is brilliant – it’s now playing in the Wyndham’s Theatre & you absolutely must see it if you can.
Lela & Co
By Cordelia Lynn
Royal Court, London
One of the most hard-hitting productions I have ever seen. I saw it because I was visiting my cousin whilst she was working stage management on it & it was gruelling, but breath taking. It’s a debut play from Lynn & featured only two actors, telling the story of Lela, a young woman sold into the trafficking industry. It was a tiny stage with minimal set & mainly featured pages & pages of dialogue from the AMAZING Katie West in the titular role. I was completely & utterly blown away.
By Martin McDonagh
Royal Court, London
I saw this with cheap £10 day tickets with my mate Tom last year, not really expecting it to be much but we both thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s an ace dark comedy abut the best hangmen in Britain the day it was outlawed & takes place primarily in a pub. Cleverly written & starring David Morrissey as said-Hangman, I was in stitches from laughing so hard. It was showing in the downstairs theatre the same time that Lela & Co was upstairs, & I remember talking to David Morrissey about both shows when I met him at Walker Stalker Con last February.
By William Shakespeare & Frantic Assembly
Both my sister & I were studying this performance for Theatre Studies in separate years & separate schools, & both missed our own class trip to see it for some reason or other. So the two of us with our mum went to Birmingham to see it & all thought it was incredible. Frantic Assembly work with physical theatre & I was unsure how they were going to portray this classic Shakespeare play but I had no reason to fear – they brought the story to a 2001 West Yorkshire pub & it was STUNNING. If I could see a production again it would be this one.
By Eleanor Bergstein
Cardiff Millennium Centre (Touring)
The same people we saw Les Mis with took us to see this for another birthday a few years back & it was unlike anything I’ve seen before. It was like being part of a Rocky Horror crowd, with the entire audience cheering & singing & dancing. Absolutely had the time of my life.
Two Gentlemen of Verona
By William Shakespeare
Tobacco Factory, Bristol
Not only was this a really incredible e& exciting Shakespeare production with ones of the best casts I’ve seen in an amazing space, but they had a REAL DOG IN IT. THEY HAD TO PUT AN ANNOUNCEMENT OUT IN THE INTERVAL NOT TO LEAVE YOUR ICE CREAM TUBS ON THE FLOOR BECAUSE HE MIGHT COME EAT THEM & RUIN THE SHOW. WHAT A GOOD BOY.
The Woman in Black
By Stephen Mallatratt.
Fortune Theatre, London
Notoriously terrifying, I wasn’t expecting this show to be so technically incredible. It’s based on the book by Susan Hill, but the stage production features only two actors, playing actors, who act out the story the elder actually experienced back in his youth. It’s designed to be set in a cheap, run down theatre & the Fortune hosts it perfectly. It is truly terrifying – I punched the person I was seated next to in the face.
By Stephen Schwartz & Winnie Holzman.
Apollo Victoria Theatre, London
My friend Tom took me & another friend to see this in London for his thirteenth birthday & I adored it. I fell in love with the story, the characters, the set, the costumes, the music, the story – it all blew me away. The experience was just incredible too, we even met some of the cast at the stage door & got autographs on our programmes.
Look how cute & tiny we all were (yes Tom brought his own hat).
The Lion King
By Roger Allers & Irene Cecchi
Lyceum Theatre, London
Obviously this one of the world’s most famous Broadway/ West End shows. It’s the classic Disney story brought to life on stage with incredible costumes, sets, dancers & all & it is absolutely magical to everyone of all ages. I wasn’t even ten years old when I saw it & I was mesmerised by the spectacle of it all. It will always be one of the productions that made me fall in love with theatre.
Theatre has continued to inspire me for as long as I can remember.
In all honesty, I find it rare to ever be let down by live theatre. I’m so in awe of the amount of work put into every production by a mass amount of people, & that they perform & run it day in day out. It’s something that terrifies me but calls me, & I just dream that I can be part of it someday.
If you get the chance to see any of these shows I really can’t recommend them enough, & if it’s price that’s worrying you I assure you for a lot of places there are cheap options. Fifteen pounds to see a production involving hundreds of people with likely thousands of hours of work gone into it is sheer lunacy, but take them up on the offer.
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