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Editor’s View: 10 reasons to be cheerful this Christmas

Kwame Kwei-Armah. Photo: Richard Anderson Kwame Kwei-Armah. Photo: Richard Anderson
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At times, the past few months have felt pretty grim for the entertainment industry. But it’s Christmas, so here are 10 things in 2017 that reminded me how great theatre can be.

1. Everybody’s Talking About Jamie and The Who’s Tommy

Two musicals telling stories we don’t usually see on stage. Both have diverse casting and great music from non-musical theatre composers. Producer Nica Burns deserves plaudits for transferring Jamie to the West End. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Tommy could too in 2018?

2. Kwame Kwei-Armah at the Young Vic

Time will tell what kind of an artistic director Kwei-Armah will be, but his appointment generated more hope and goodwill than any other similar announcement I can recall.

3. Hamlet and Meatloaf

I saw Andrew Scott’s Hamlet and Bat Out of Hell on consecutive nights. I loved both. We should be thankful the West End can support both – theatre should be a broad church.

4. Follies

Wow. Just wow. Please can Dominic Cooke direct more musicals?

Follies review at the National Theatre, London – ‘not just triumphant, but transcendent’

5. The Fall

This powerful devised piece by students from the University of Cape Town about the removal of the Cecil Rhodes statue from its campus was one of the best things I saw all year.

6. The Stage Debut Awards

Our awards celebrated wonderful new talent. But what I found most touching was how many established theatre names wanted to support and celebrate with the next generation.

The Stage Debut Awards winners in full

7. Lyn Gardner

Lyn joining us as associate editor alongside Mark Shenton was a high point, but the outpouring of support when her blog was cut by the Guardian underlined that the sector values informed, nationwide arts coverage.

8. Theatre Workforce Report

As one of its authors, the thing I found most encouraging about this warts-and-all report into the state of the theatre workforce was that it was commissioned by employers who genuinely want to improve things.

The Editor’s View: Let’s invest in theatre’s greatest asset – its workforce

9. Julian Clary

To see him squeezing every drop of laughter out of a series of Dick (Whittington) jokes at the London Palladium is to see a master at work.

10. Hamilton

A welcome reminder that when theatre is this well executed and relevant it can become an agenda-setter in the wider public conversation.

Hamilton: Making a ‘miracle’ of modern musical theatre

Email your views to alistair@thestage.co.uk