If you’re anything like me, you’ve seen at least a couple of Best of Theatre 2017 lists and had that sinking feeling of disappointment and wondered. How did I not know this or that was going on? To avoid this, here’s our guide to the shows which we’re looking forward to help you plan your theatre outings of 2018.
After 2017 – which saw the openings of Girl from the North Country, Everyone’s Talking About Jamie and Hamilton – I’m happy to report there’s plenty of new productions of musicals to chew on this year too. Over the Christmas break I’ve become obsessed with the soundtrack to the ABBA/Tim Rice musical Chess which opens at the London Coliseum in April. A musical about chess – it’s kind of silly but it always leaves me crying by the end. A previous obsession of mine, Sondheim’s Company, starts at the Gielgud in September under the direction of War Horse and The Curious Incident‘s Marianne Elliot. The twist is that the main role of Bobby has been gender-flipped and will be played by Rosalie Craig.
Publicly-funded theatre is also pulling its weight in the musical arena. The Young Vic is premiering 2015 Best Musical Tony-winner Fun Home, based on Bechdel’s graphic novel, in June and I’ve already got my ticket. Its big sister the Old Vic celebrates the centenary of women’s votes with Sylvia (as in Pankhurst), which has already garnered interest as the potential ‘British Hamilton‘.
Closer to home, the RSC is putting on its first musical since hit Matilda. Miss Littlewood is based on the life on pioneering theatre-maker Joan Littlewood and runs through the summer. Other offerings from Stratford includes Christopher Eccleston’s turn as the title character in Macbeth this spring.
Perhaps the year’s best theatrical feud will thus be between the RSC and the National Theatre as they both stage star-studded new productions of the Scottish play. The National’s version stars Rory Kinnear and Anne Marie Duff. Personally, I think this is a match made in theatrical heaven. They performed a scene from Macbeth as part of the 400th anniversary celebrations in 2016 I remember being totally enthralled and wishing they would do the full thing. The National wouldn’t be the National if they didn’t have a full season of gems like this. Other highlights include The Crown’s Vanessa Kirby taking on Steinberg’s Miss Julie in June, the return of Amadeus and the premiere of The Lehman Trilogy directed by Sam Mendes who is coming off sold-out play The Ferryman currently at the Gielgud.
Meanwhile, 2018 is the perfect time to check out some new London venues. Last year saw the opening of the Bridge Theatre, created by National Theatre alums Nicholas Hytner and Nick Starr. This year Jim Broadbent stars as Hans Christian Andersen in A Very Very Very Dark Matter. Jim Broadbent is among many other stars lighting up the West End in the coming year. Poldark’s Aiden Turner will play in The Lieutenant of Inishmoor and Harry Potter’s Alfred Enoch teams up with Alfred Molina in Red, both running through the summer. Jeremy Irons and Lesley Manville will also take up Eugene O’Neills A Long Day’s Journey Into Night at the Wyndham’s Theatre in a couple weeks.
Finally, political playwright/superstar James Graham’s latest project is Quiz. About the cheating scandal which hit Who Wants to be a Millionaire, it opens at the Noël Coward in April. If you haven’t seen one of his plays yet you are missing out. However, if London’s a bit of a truck for you, a touring production of his 2012 play This House is coming to the Birmingham Rep in April. It covers the 1974-79 Labour government but seems eerily relevant to today’s politics.
Another West End favourite coming to the Rep is Kite Runner, based on Khaled Hosseini’s novel. The Rep is consistently performing both new and touring plays a year so do keep a look out. If plays aren’t really your thing but you fancy a show in Brum, there’s loading of big musicals touring in the next few months, including Wicked, Evita, Legally Blonde and the brand-new musical The Last Ship penned by Sting.
There’s loads going on on campus as well. One-woman show Fleabag (adapted into the BBC3 series) will be at the Arts Centre May 8-12. Student theatre also promises MTW’s Rent and Warwick Opera’s Hansel and Gretel, which will both take over the Goose Nest.
Have a fantastic 2018 and keep Boar Arts up to date on what you’re seeing!