There is no denying that 2021 continued to be a tough year for the theater industry, with many theaters forced to close until June due to social distancing rules and then the end of the year saw numerous show closures due to Covid cases within cast and crew. However 2021 also brought us some wonderful theatrical moments and I wanted to celebrate those in this 2021 stagey round up.
Best Online Production – A Killer Party
A Killer Party was released for streaming in the UK in May. It follows a group of actors in Blackpool who turn up for a read through of Varthur McArthur’s house but Varthur ends up killed and traffic warden and Detective hopeful Justine Case is called to the house to solve the murder. She separates the suspects and sends them to individual rooms throughout the house as she makes her way round to question them. The show Packed full of musical theater big hitters and filmed in a socially distant manner it was the perfect anecdote for closed theatres. Since watching this many of the numbers have found their way to my Spotify musical theater playlist. Even if you don’t watch it do go and heck out the cast recording!
You can read the full review for A Killer Party here.
Best West End Musical – Cabaret
I managed to snag myself a ticket for Cabaret during Previews (also meaning that I could get tickets for a bit cheaper) and I have to say that this show wowed me. Everything from how immersive the show was as soon as you arrived for the casting, the choreography and the staging. As an extension has been announced there is lots of opportunity to see it. Whilst Eddie Redmayne and Jessie Buckley are incredible I think that the show will be just as incredible without them so I recommend snapping up the slightly more affordable tickets now!
You can read my full 5 star review here.
Best West End Play – Cruise
Cruise was on at the Duchess Theater and a one man show, written and performed by Jack Holden. It tells the story of Michael and his journey through the 80’s including his diagnosis of HIV, his 4 year countdown and surviving that countdown when others did not. It was centered around queer culture in the 80’s; This show educated, it paid tribute to gay veterans, it informed, it moved the audience from laughter to tears and back again. I really hope that Cruise gets another outing in 2022.
You can read the full 5 star review of Cruise here.
Best Fringe Musical – Tokyo Rose
I had previously seen Tokyo Rose at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and adored it so when I heard it was coming to Southwark Playhouse I was thrilled. The show had been developed since I saw it last but the hard hittig style and gripping true story had remained. Tokyo Rose tells the true story of Iva Toguri, a Japanese American who was born and raised in America but due to her aunt getting ill found herself in Japan at the start of the war. Despite her best efforts to try to get home she was unable to do so and found herself instead working on a radio station that is broadcast to prisoners of war. At the end of the war she finds herself transported back to America and put on trial for treason. She struggles to prove her innocence whilst clinging onto her cultural identity. My review summed up the show as follows:
“Tokyo Rose is exactly the type of show that London needs, told by women, predominately delivered by Japanese actresses and all with searing rock vocals and a gripping story.”
My full 5 star review of Tokyo Rose is here.
Best Touring Musical – Waitress
I had seen Waitress in the West End and whilst I enjoyed it I wasn’t wowed by it but the tour production changed my mind on this show. Lucie Jones was undoubtedly a huge part of this wow factor and the mid show standing ovation for ‘She Used To Be Mine,’ showed I wasn’t alone in this. Lucie’s incredible performance layered with heartwarming music and a story about female friendship helped make this my favorite touring musical of 2021.
You can read my full 4 star review of Waitress here.
Best Touring Play – The Play That Goes Wrong
Until 2021, to my shame, I had never seen any Mischief Theater Productions! Luckily I was able to put that right this year and I managed to see both The Play That Goes Wrong and Groan Ups. The Play That Goes Wrong is based on the fact that Cornley Polytechnic is putting on ‘Murder At Haversham Manor.’ Everything that could go wrong with the production does, with misplaced props, doors that won’t open, set that falls apart and injured cast! The words organized chaos sums up this show perfectly and I was in awe of the precision of this show – making organized chaos look this seamless is no easy feat!
You can read the five star review of the Play That Goes Wrong here.
Best Family Show – Bedknobs & Broomsticks
I saw Bedknobs & Broomsticks at the Orchard Theater in Dartford. This show due to its imaginative staging really brings the magic of theater alive. The young audience were spellbound by the show and after the show the auditorium was filled by chatter of children trying to work out how the magic had been done. It wasn’t just the magic tricks such as the flying bed that had us all gripped, the puppetry was beautifully done and Diane Pilkington as Miss Price had the whole audience believing in her magic. This summed up my thoughts:
“I just wish Miss Price had taught us the spell for going back in time as I would happily cast a spell and go to watch this all over again.”
You can read my 4 star of Bedknobs and Broomsticks here. Bedknobs and Broomsticks at the Orchard Theater
Best Dance/Physical Theater – Here Come The Boys
Here Come The Boys was on at The Palladium in May and featured a cast packed full of strictly dancers. The energy that the dancers brought to the stage was insane, as was the variety of dance styles that were featured. The ‘boys’ each had their moment to shine and the choice of the leads was well considered as each star had their own specality style, look and personality, all of which came through in the show.
You can read the full 4 star review of Here Come The Boys here.
Best Concert – West End Musical Celebration Live
West End Musical Celebration was packed full of West End stars including Sophie Evans, Alice Fearn, Ben Forster, Rachel John, Trevor Dion Nicholas and Layton Williams and hosted and produced by Shanay Holmes. The program varied hugely in style but one thing that was consistent was it gave the audience exactly what it wanted Alice Fearn singing Defying Gravity – tick, Trevor Dion Nichols singing Friend Like Me – tick, Layton Williams performing Don’t Even Know It – tick , Ben Forster singing Music of the Night – tick and I could go on. The performers were more than happy to embrace the songs and shows they are known for and after a year of theaters being closed it paid off and even resulted in a standing ovation for Alice Fearn.
I summed up my thoughts here:
“West End Musical Celebration genuinely is a real celebration and does what is saying on the tin (or at least the poster). With a set list that ticks all the boxes and a cast that leaves your jaw on the floor this show is a perfect demonstration of just why the hole in our hearts is so huge when the theaters are closed and makes us all wonder just how we survived this long without that joy the cast brought to the stage.”
You can read my full 4 star review here.
Best Am Drama Show – Revlon Girl
Understandably amateur dramatics also had a tough year with many societies choosing not to perform this year. My favorite amateur show wasn’t one that I went to review, I went to support friends who had been involved in it but in the process I not only discovered a beautifully moving play about the Aberfan Disaster told by a talented cast directed and tenderness . The play was on at the Bob Hope Theater in Eltham and I look forward to seeing more shows there in 2022.
Best Theatrical Experience – Come From Away Reopening Night
Full disclaimed for this one – I adore Come From Away. You can read my full 5 star review for the show here. Come From Away was one of the first West End shows to open after social distancing had stopped and to be in the audience for that first show back was incredible. The audience was thrilled to be there and the standing ovation after the first number seemed never ending and the casts reaction to this was beautiful to see.
Runner Up- Stephen Schwartz at the Theater Cafe
Stephen Schwartz teamed up with the Theater Channel to record an episode which focused on his work. I was lucky enough to attend a screening at the Theater Cafe where Stephen Schwartz was present and we got to ask him all about the filming of the episode. You can read more about it here and check out my reel on Instagram which shows you some sneak peaks of the interviews.
Most Read Article – Who Sang It Better – Bring Him Home
Despite writing this some 5 years ago everyone seemed to go Les Miserables crazy this year and this resulted in my article on Who Sang It Better – Bring Him Home being my most read article of the year! Who is your favorite singer of this beautiful song?
I hope you have enjoyed my 2021 Stagey round up. These shows just reflect my own personal thoughts and the shows I managed to see. What are your favorites of 2021?