Round Up: Top Theatre Productions of 2018

2018 has given me a grand total of 110 performances to mull over to find the best of the best theatre and shows that I’ve managed to cram into the last year. There are countless shows I was desperate to see and I know a whole bunch of shows have created buzz, rave reviews and must-see lists. Most of those are London shows, and most I didn’t manage to catch – I thought it might be worth pointing this out nice and early for the die-hard fans of the most talked about theatrical gems…

So what’s been seen in 2018 I hear you ask? 

Well, here’s my list:

Pinnochio, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, Hedda Gabler, The Grinning Man, Sunset Boulevard, Windrush, Birdsong, Still Alice, Black Men Walking, Lady Windermere’s Fan, This House, Brighton Rock, The Nature of Forgetting, Légende, What Does Stuff Do?, André and Dorine, George’s Marvelous Medicine, Jekyll and Hyde, Finders Keepers, If I Say Jump, The Flying lovers of Vitebsk, The Turn of the Screw, Tina The Tina Turner Musical, Holes, Shakers, Miss Saigon, Happy Hour, Dancing Bear, Tango Moderno, A Spoonful of Sherman, Our Country’s Good, Caroline or Change, Homage to Piaf, Sunshine on Leith, An officer and a Gentleman, The Last Ship, The Game of Love and Chai, Relatively Speaking, Dollywould, The Girl on the Train, Blood Brothers, Hard Times, Two, Monogamy, Aladdin (West End), This is Elvis, Bouncers, Wicked (Tour), Section 2, Talking Heads, Berlin to Broadway, 100 Ways to Tie a Shoelace, Searching for the Heart of Leeds, It’s a Miracle/ The Colin Atkins Story, The Case of the Frightened Lady, The Tempest, Much Ado About Nothing, Hairspray, Bianca Del Rio (Blame It On), Summer Holiday, The Secret Garden, Euan, Jack, The Nightingale, In the Wake Of, Contradictions, New Irish Playbook, Face to Face, S/he/it Happens, Into the Deep, To the Moon…and back…and back, Obsolete Tomfoolery, Calendar Girls, Pride and Prejudice, The Wipers Times, The Habit if Art, Road, Matilda (Tour), Boeing Boeing, Dial M for Murder, The Snow Queen, An Inspector Calls, Dracula, Tosca, Salt, Blackthorn, The Giant Spectacular, Dirty Dancing, They Don’t Pay? We Won’t pay!, Whoopi Goldberg Live On Stage, Missing, The Full Monty, The Comedy About the Bank Robbery (Tour), Kindertransport, Rain Man, Wise Children, Motown, Single Spies, Jeeves and Wooster, My Mother Said I Never Should, Jersey Boys, A Christmas Carol, Jack and the Beanstalk, The Nutcracker, Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood, Peter Pan, The Grand Old Dame of York, Inspiration Choir: Christmas Starts Here, The Princess & the Sprout and Shrek The Musical.

Reviews for those shows can be found on the blog, so get caught up if you missed any along the way.

As I wrote this time last year, perhaps one day I’ll be equipped to send out cute little trophies for the shows which won my heart, but for now, productions have pride of place in a simple list – here are my top picks of theatre and shows of 2018…

Best comedy

They Don’t Pay? We Won’t pay!

Best Drama

Still Alice

Best Musical

Matilda (Tour) 

Best Hybrid

Caroline, Or Change

Best Kids’ Show

The Secret Garden

Best Alternative Production

André and Dorine

Best One Hander

He/She/It Happens

Best Shakespeare Production 

Othello

Best Puppetry/ Mask Production

André and Dorine

Best Physical Theatre Production

Missing

Best Dance Production

Windrush: Movement of the People

Best Panto

The Grand Old Dame of York

Best London Fringe Production

He/She/It Happens

Best Regional Fringe Production

100 Ways to Tie a Shoelace

Overall Best London Production

Caroline or Change

Overall Best Regional Production

The Secret Garden

Best Touring Production

Joint: Matilda and Hairspray

My pick for the Best Production seen in 2018:

Caroline, Or Change

This show is just so different. It’s a brilliant hybrid which merges comedy, drama and music to create a refreshing and unique take on musical theatre. It’s rare to find something surprising and daring in the realm of modern musicals. The intensity of the drama in this show is excellent yet it still manages to hit all the right notes of musical theatre, offering something gripping, beautiful and disturbing on a very busy landscape of jazz hands and high kicks.

And just because I can, I’m offering up a new category…

Most enjoyed and raved about

So what’s been seen in 2018 I hear you ask? 

Well, here’s my list:

Pinnochio, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, Hedda Gabler, The Grinning Man, Sunset Boulevard, Windrush, Birdsong, Still Alice, Black Men Walking, Lady Windermere’s Fan, This House, Brighton Rock, The Nature of Forgetting, Légende, What Does Stuff Do?, André and Dorine, George’s Marvelous Medicine, Jekyll and Hyde, Finders Keepers, If I Say Jump, The Flying lovers of Vitebsk, The Turn of the Screw, Tina The Tina Turner Musical, Holes, Shakers, Miss Saigon, Happy Hour, Dancing Bear, Tango Moderno, A Spoonful of Sherman, Our Country’s Good, Caroline or Change, Homage to Piaf, Sunshine on Leith, An officer and a Gentleman, The Last Ship, The Game of Love and Chai, Relatively Speaking, Dollywould, The Girl on the Train, Blood Brothers, Hard Times, Two, Monogamy, Aladdin (West End), This is Elvis, Bouncers, Wicked (Tour), Section 2, Talking Heads, Berlin to Broadway, 100 Ways to Tie a Shoelace, Searching for the Heart of Leeds, It’s a Miracle/ The Colin Atkins Story, The Case of the Frightened Lady, The Tempest, Much Ado About Nothing, Hairspray, Bianca Del Rio (Blame It On), Summer Holiday, The Secret Garden, Euan, Jack, The Nightingale, In the Wake Of, Contradictions, New Irish Playbook, Face to Face, S/he/it Happens, Into the Deep, To the Moon…and back…and back, Obsolete Tomfoolery, Calendar Girls, Pride and Prejudice, The Wipers Times, The Habit if Art, Road, Matilda (Tour), Boeing Boeing, Dial M for Murder, The Snow Queen, An Inspector Calls, Dracula, Tosca, Salt, Blackthorn, The Giant Spectacular, Dirty Dancing, They Don’t Pay? We Won’t pay!, Whoopi Goldberg Live On Stage, Missing, The Full Monty, The Comedy About the Bank Robbery (Tour), Kindertransport, Rain Man, Wise Children, Motown, Single Spies, Jeeves and Wooster, My Mother Said I Never Should, Jersey Boys, A Christmas Carol, Jack and the Beanstalk, The Nutcracker, Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood, Peter Pan, The Grand Old Dame of York, Inspiration Choir: Christmas Starts Here, The Princess & the Sprout and Shrek The Musical.

Reviews for those shows can be found on the blog, so get caught up if you missed any along the way.

As I wrote this time last year, perhaps one day I’ll be equipped to send out cute little trophies for the shows which won my heart, but for now, productions have pride of place in a simple list – here are my top picks of theatre and shows of 2018…

Best comedy

They Don’t Pay? We Won’t pay!

Best Drama

Still Alice

Best Musical

Matilda (Tour) 

Best Hybrid

Caroline, Or Change

Best Kids’ Show

The Secret Garden

Best Alternative Production

André and Dorine

Best One Hander

He/She/It Happens

Best Shakespeare Production 

Othello

Best Puppetry/ Mask Production

André and Dorine

Best Physical Theatre Production

Missing

Best Dance Production

Windrush: Movement of the People

Best Panto

The Grand Old Dame of York

Best London Fringe Production

He/She/It Happens

Best Regional Fringe Production

100 Ways to Tie a Shoelace

Overall Best London Production

Caroline or Change

Overall Best Regional Production

The Secret Garden

Best Touring Production

Joint: Matilda and Hairspray

My pick for the Best Production of 2018:

Caroline, Or Change

This show is just so different. It’s a brilliant hybrid which merges comedy, drama and music to create a refreshing and unique take on musical theatre. It’s rare to find something surprising and daring in the realm of modern musicals. The intensity of the drama in this show is excellent yet it still manages to hit all the right notes of musical theatre, offering something gripping, beautiful and disturbing on a very busy landscape of jazz hands and high kicks.

And just because I can, I’m offering up a new category: Most enjoyed and raved about.

Hairspray (Tour)

Having only a vague awareness of the story and show when I went in, I was in love with it by the time I came back out again. This show had me welling up, grinning, laughing and dancing in my seat – here’s hoping it works it’s way around again before too long!

And that’s all folks. Here’s to another year of great theatre in 2019! 

As ever, watch this space…

Hairspray (Tour)

Having only a vague awareness of the story and show when I went in, I was in love with it by the time I came back out again. This show had me welling up, grinning, laughing and dancing in my seat – here’s hoping it works it’s way around again before too long!

And that’s all folks. Here’s to another year of great theatre in 2019! 

As ever, watch this space…

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