Much of my theatregoing is about going to see the work my clients are doing, but I’m going to step back from that this week and look back instead at my favourite shows of 2014. Admittedly, some of those shows might have had my clients in…
Finally a major British production of Gypsy and with a Mama Rose to rival the all time greats – Imelda Staunton was frankly terrifying, and Lara Pulver reminded us that she is one of this country’s great talents.
I went to see Emily Joyce take over as the Mother in what remains one of the most astonishingly imaginative plays ever staged – quite frankly Marianne Elliot rocks my world.
I loved this new musical way more than I expected to, not least because of Beverley Knight’s star turn, but also because I had a proud agent moment as Tyrone Huntley opened his mouth and revealed his Stevie Wonder-esque vocals. But the show is greater tha the sum of its parts. A friend summed it up well: “Memphis doesn’t do anything we haven’t seen before, it just does it better than we’ve ever seen before.”
One of my favourite Menier offerings and a contender for most interesting cast ever assembled in a musical. It’s certainly the best staging of Assassins I’ve ever seen. Jamie Lloyd can do no wrong.
I’m due to see Wendi Peters in London in the New Year but I loved the West Yorkshire Playhouse’s staging of White Christmas, directed by Nikolai Foster, choreographed by Nick Winston and starring Emma Williams and Melanie La Barrie. Nikolai and Nick are a dream team – I loved their Annie, and this was no less magical.
The most thrilling performance I’ve ever seen of Les Mis anywhere in the world, by a long stretch, was a preview of the new Broadway production starring my old pal Ramin Karimloo who has taken the town by storm. The man is a machine, and a star, and I was in awe of his brilliance.
This celebration of the songs of Andrew Lippa was a little gem at the Menier Chocolate Factory starring Caroline O’Connor, Damian Humbley and Summer Strallen. And while I know The Wild Party, there was much of Andrew Lippa’s catalogue I had not heard before – and to hear some of it performed by him was a real treat.
Was there anyone born more perfect for Coward than Janie Dee? I think not. The event, and rightly so, was the legendary Angela Lansbury but how wonderful to have her surrounded by a cast of such perfection including a brilliantly fresh Elvira from Jemima Rooper.
Helen McCrory was deeply disturbing in this gruesome staging of the most terrifying play and appalling heroine Greek tragedy has to offer. She remains one of my favourite actresses.
Alexandra Silber lit up the Royal Albert Hall with a fully-staged single performance conducted by John Wilson. Only the BBC Proms could’ve mounted such a feat, so thank goodness it was recorded for posterity – you can watch it on Christmas Day on BBC2 while you eat your Christmas pud.
The first opened a new theatre in Twickenham and starred David Bedella. The second starred Siobhan McCarthy in the real life Harrington’s Pie and Mash Shop in Tooting and garnered a visit from the great composer himself. Both were equally my favourite productions of the piece that I have ever seen.
Not a new show, but as I watched Clare Louise Connolly join the cast, I was reminded how deeply moving and life affirming the piece is – there’s a reason it’s the juggernaut play of the West End and such is the level care and attention the National give it, it still feels like a fresh new production with a terrific cast. Long may it continue.
There are so many others to mention. Madalena Alberto’s Eva Peron in Evita, The Scottsboro Boys, Here Lies Love – but alas I have to go now and watch my seventh panto of the season. I’ll be back in the new year with some new year’s resolutions… from an agent’s perspective.