As we approach the last few months of 2016, we also see one of the busiest times in the theatre calendar. Not just great for me as a writer, but perfect timing for the launch a new ticketing website to help people get all those great deals that London has to offer. Welcome to Theatre Tickets UK!
After a quick perusal of the site, I thought I would run down my 10 top picks for shows to see in the next 6 months – it’s going to be a busy but very exciting time!
- Rent: In 2005 the film version of Rent came out and set a new standard for musical films in my mind. Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, it ran on Broadway for 12 years but only survived 18 months on the West End at the Shaftesbury Theatre. Now it’s back at the St. James Theatre following a national tour in December and I will be at the front of the queue.
- Dreamgirls: Another film (from 2006) that changed the landscape and won supporting actress Jennifer Hudson a BAFTA, a Golden Globe and an Oscar, Dreamgirls is a musical that has had much success in the USA (Broadway and touring) but to date has never been to the West End… until this year. November sees it coming to the Savoy Theatre with the feisty heroine Effie White played by Amber Riley (Glee) and directed by award winner Casey Nicholaw (Aladdin; The Book of Mormon), a winning combination that I definitely don’t want to miss.
- Kinky Boots: Here we have a film turned into a highly successful musical that is entering its 2nd year at the Adelphi Theatre in London. Matt Henry remains in his Olivier-award winning role and is joined by new additions David Hunter (Once; semi-finalist on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Superstar) and Alan Mehdizadeh (Billy Elliot). A must-see for all lovers of camp, cabaret and crazy-high platform heels and a part of my annual pilgrimage.
- Wicked: This list just wouldn’t be complete without a tribute to Wicked’s 10th anniversary year in the West End. As well as still going strong on Broadway after 13 years and catapulting the likes of Idina Menzel into A-list celebrity status, it won the Olivier Audience Award for the second time in 2015. The 8th longest running show currently in the West End, this anniversary sees Rachel Tucker return from Broadway to reprise the role of Elphaba at the Apollo Victoria Theatre. A musical that I will see again and again for many more years to come.
- Half A Sixpence: Although not a fan of older musicals, I am very excited that Half A Sixpence is coming to the Noel Coward Theatre this October after its record-breaking run as the fastest-selling show ever at the Chichester Festival Theatre. A new adaptation from Julian Fellowes (Downton Abbey), it’s definitely worth more than half a penny and half a farthing any day.
- No Man’s Land: The last time these two giants of British theatre were on stage together was seven years ago in Waiting For Godot, but now Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart are back with a bang. No Man’s Land plays Wyndham’s Theatre, where Harold Pinter’s play first ran in 1975. Definitely one to see for these names alone, but I’m also delighted that the supporting cast of Owen Teale and Damien Molony is so strong. A limited season until December, tickets have sold like hotcakes.
- Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf: To find out the answer to this question, you have to wait until February 2017. I’m not sure I can wait that long to see West End legend Imelda Staunton again (Guys and Dolls; Sweeney Todd; Gypsy), who recently was announced to also be starring in Follies at the National Theatre next year. I safely predict 2017 to be another winner for this lady. Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf comes to the Harold Pinter Theatre (replacing Olivier award-winning musical of the The Kinks, Sunny Afternoon) with co-star Conleth Hill, a Northern Irish stalwart of the Belfast stage.
- Aladdin: Another winning show by director Casey Nicholaw (The Book Of Mormon; Dreamgirls), Aladdin has certainly made a big purple splash in the middle of the West End this year. Now booking until April 2017 at the Prince Edward Theatre, I saw this sparkly, sassy success as a birthday present earlier this year. The sets; the costumes; Trevor Dion Nicholas as the Genie – three reasons why this is a must-see and a great pre-Christmas addition to any theatregoer’s calendar.
- 42nd Street: For this tale of Broadway dreams always coming true, I have to wait until March 2017. Not fair at all. Replacing a Roald Dahl favourite, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, 42nd Street enters its 36th year by returning to its London home, where it won an Olivier award in 1984.
- The Book of Mormon: A hat-trick on this list for director Casey Nicholaw (Aladdin; Dreamgirls) The Book Of Mormon is the most outrageously funny thing I have seen on the West End in years. Written by South Park creator Trey Parker and Matt Stone, as well as Avenue Q creator Robert Lopez, this Prince of Wales Theatre show may as well print its tickets in gold, they are so valuable and desired. One I wish I could get in to see every year, but I’ll make do with once in a while to laugh until my sides split and spend the next week humming Hasa Diga Eebowai at inappropriate moments.