Editor Emma Clarendon selects twenty London productions she would love to see again…
42nd Street, Theatre Royal Drury Lane: I know it only feels like yesterday that this show was in the West End – but I miss the sheer spectacle of it all! The dancing, the music and cast made this feel like a real celebration of theatre in all its entertaining glory.
Half a Sixpence, Noel Coward Theatre: I’m so glad that I got to catch this before it closed. Again, it is just such a joyous and funny musical that left you with a smile on your face. It was also one of many productions that show the power of regional theatre in producing a show of this quality that leads it getting a West End transfer.
The Son, Duke of York’s Theatre: having missed it at the Kiln Theatre, this still remains one of the most powerful pieces of drama I have witnessed on stage. Emotionally draining (in a good way), the performances of all the cast were certainly some of the most memorable that I have witnessed.
The Kite Runner, Playhouse Theatre: I have been fortunate enough to see this play twice and it always catches me off guard emotionally – even though I know how it ends. Adapted by Matthew Spangler and directed by Giles Croft, they ensured that Khaled Hosseini’s best selling novel was faithfully bought to life for audiences.
Ghost the Musical, Piccadilly Theatre: having seen it in the West End and on tour, I still maintain the West end production is stronger in terms of the illusions (which I acknowledge are difficult and expensive to replicate for a touring production). It took me by surprise by how good it was having initially been sceptical on how producers were going to adapt this beloved film.
Shakespeare in Love, Noel Coward Theatre: ok yes so the story is fabricated, but I loved the humour and warmth that really shone through in this production. The costumes were suitably lavish and the leads had wonderful chemistry that I have been desperate to see it return on stage ever since it left the West End.
From Here to Eternity, Shaftesbury Theatre: I understand it didn’t get a good reception but having seen it for myself I feel that this is one of the most underrated musicals to have been seen on the West End. It was filled with drama, jazzy songs that reflected the era and a solid story that was made for adaption for the stage.
The Lieutenant of Inishmore, Noel Coward Theatre: those who know me won’t be surprised this is on my list. But I genuinely loved the black comedy in Martin McDonagh’s play – never has the idea of a terrorist wanting to talk to his cat on the phone so funny. Yes it is violent and gory – but Michael Grandage’s production presented it so well I would love to see it again.
Fiddler on the Roof, Playhouse Theatre: aside from 42nd Street, Fiddler on the Roof is the only one that I have seen three times first at the Menier and then during its West End run. The way it was staged really wrapped around the audience beautifully, making them feel very much part of the community – simply stunning.
In the Heights, King’s Cross Theatre: confession: I think in many ways I prefer this musical to Lin Manuel Miranda’s other well known musical. It is vibrant, filled with colourful characters, wonderfully joyous songs and easier to enjoy. The run of this production was in my opinion too short!
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Piccadilly Theatre: it is probably hard to imagine anyone not enjoying just how clever and imaginatively staged the National Theatre production based on Mark Haddon’s novel. The use of lighting, sound and the set itself all came into its own in helping bring the story to life.
Romantics Anonymous, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse: this quirky and charming little musical captured audiences hearts when it first appeared in the Shakespeare’s Globe’s other venue. It has a lovely French vibe to it and characters who are so sweet it is impossible not to fall in love with them.
Red, Wyndham’s Theatre: Michael Grandage’s production of this two handed play was compelling to watch from start to finish. Filled with expression, you are completely drawn into the world of Mark Rothko and his assistant. Understated but powerful.
Wolf Hall/Bring Up the bodies, Aldwych Theatre: this was a mammoth day at the theatre. It has to be difficult to adapt one book for the stage – let alone to but in this case it really worked – and certainly easier to digest than the books. It was elegantly staged and completely enthralling to watch.
Showboat, New London Theatre (now the Gillian Lynne Theatre): this was another production that I was surprised that closed early. It was a really classy and heartfelt production of this classic musical – my first experience of seeing this musical but it made me fall in love with it.
Quiz, Noel Coward Theatre: given that James Graham’s play was transformed into a successful ITV drama, I feel the time is right to bring out this production directed by Daniel Evans back out again. A simple premise story wise, yet it has many different layers to it that make it intriguing to watch unfold.
The King and I, London Palladium: this is certainly one of the most lavish musicals that I have treated myself to watching. The set and costumes alone swept the audience into a different era, while those memorable songs really rung out thanks to the excellent performance from the orchestra. Would happily watch again.
Blues in the Night, Kiln Theatre: any show that stars Sharon D Clarke and allowing her to offer up stunning vocals is a win win. Directed by Susie McKenna, this was a lovely understated evening of jazz that allowed different characters to express themselves.
Young Frankenstein, Garrick Theatre: Mel Brooks is a master of comedy and this brilliantly funny production was a real hit with me from the first song. Consistently lively and engaging with a cast that included the brilliant Lesley Joseph, Ross Noble and Hadley Fraser – it was a madly brilliant show directed with flair by Susan Stroman.
An American in Paris, Dominion Theatre: one of the more dance based musicals I have seen on stage, this stage adaptation of the film starring Gene Kelly was exquisite not only in terms of choreography but the stylishness of the set – really charming from start to finish.