In a year dominated by revivals, the West End showed us it was still capable of innovation, with a few exciting new productions winning the hearts of audiences. The arrival of one of the world’s most successful musicals will surely change the face of the West End, even if the ticketing policy and prices leave many fans with a long wait to see it! Across musicals, plays, and even circus, our West End theatres are bursting at the seams with world class performances which continue to enchant audiences from across the globe.
Here are our top ten West End productions that opened in 2017.
Flashdance takes our honourable mention spot, only because it hasn’t actually made it to the West End, having toured the country throughout the year. But, it so easily could be a West End production, it has all the right ingredients, including Ben Adams and Joanne Clifton in the lead roles, with the most perfect chemistry together. The tour continues in 2018, with both leads signed up, so if it comes to a theatre near you, grab the opportunity to see it.
Directed by Jamie Lloyd, Apologia brought the legend of stage and screen, Stockard Channing to London. Alexi Kaye Campbell’s second play, Apologia, set in the home of Kristin Miller, a left wing activist in her youth who has clung on to those ideals long beyond her days of demonstrations in the sixties. This family portrait was delightful to watch and a true hit for Jamie Lloyd.
Originally staged at Southwark Playhouse, then at Edinburgh Fringe, The Toxic Avenger finally found its way to The West End in 2017, and was met with a lot of love from audiences. Director, Benji Sperring did wonders in capturing the fun element of the musical. This was a production that left you crying with laughter and begging for more.
Every so often a comedy comes along that doesn’t have to try too hard, it’s just innately funny and heart-warming. Keith Stevenson’s Out There on Fried Meat Ridge Road, directed by Harry Burton was one of those rare treats, with a few magical moments hidden up its sleeve. The play is actually part of a trilogy and we can only hope the other two hit the stage some time soon.
Tennessee Williams seminal play, The Glass Menagerie, opened for a West End run at the Duke of York’s Theatre in February. Based loosely on Tennessee Williams own family and life, this semi-autobiographical work is a ‘memory play’, that is, it is based on his memories but isn’t entirely accurate. John Tiffany brought his magical flair to the production giving it a truly beautiful look and feel.
Following an extended run in Manchester, Bat Out of Hell The Musical exploded on to the West End in June and became an overnight success. Packed with those classic Meatloaf hits, you already know all the songs, Andrew Polec and Christina Bennington were perfect as the star-crossed lovers, and the announcement that Bat Out of Hell will return to London in 2018 has been met with delight from fans.
Imelda Staunton returned to the West End stage this year with the classic Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? It made the headlines for the food ban imposed in the Harold Pinter Theatre, but seeing the production you can understand why, the play is hugely intense, totally captivating, and the lack of rustling food wrappers allowed audiences to become fully immersed in the performance.
The casting of American sitcom star Kelsey Grammer was clearly the key pulling point for many people booking tickets to this new musical. But, on seeing Big Fish The Musical, you realise there is so much more to this wonderful production, Grammer isn’t the only star of the show, Matthew Seadon Young and Jamie Muscato are outstanding, and Andrew Lippa’s score is captivating. Also, it made me cry, a lot!
Those dancing feet! So many of them! 42nd Street is truly a song and dance spectacular, bursting at the seams with glitz and glamour. The lead cast are sensational, but it’s all those incredibly talented dancers who make this show absolutely un-missable.
What can I say about Marianne Elliott’s production of Tony Kushners epic Angels in America at The National Theatre? It was simply stunning, Andrew Garfield and Denise Gough were breathtaking, while Russel Tovey reminded us all of his tremendous stage skills. Sitting through two four-hour-ish performances was well worth it!
Well we’re cheating a little here because technically Hamilton hasn’t ‘opened’ yet. At the time of writing, the musical theatre behemoth is still in previews following a delayed opening. However, I have been lucky enough to see a preview performance and feel confident that it deserves the top spot. You don’t need me to tell you anything else about this particular show, it’s already more than earned its stripes on Broadway.
Those were our top ten West End productions for 2017, but there were many fantastic productions across London, did your favourite show make the list? Let us know in the comments.
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