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Ahead of rounding up various publications #theatre2016 highlights, I’m taking a moment to reflect on my own theatregoing year and my favourite plays, musicals, performances and other events.

My lists are not in the least bit definitive: they represent only my personal opinions on the shows I’ve managed to see. There are two shows not included here that definitely would be had I not already included them on my #theatre2015 round-up – Jon Brittain’s Rotterdam, which transferred from Theatre503 to Trafalgar Studios, and Ray Rackham’s Through the Mill, which transferred from the London Theatre Workshop to Southwark Playhouse.

Please note, too, that my choices are listed in alphabetic order not ranking!

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at the Palace Theatre

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at the Palace Theatre

My top 10 new plays of 2016

1. Deny Deny Deny by Jonathan Maitland – Park Theatre
2. Elegy by Nick Payne – Donmar Warehouse
2. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Parts 1 & 2 by JK Rowling, Jack Thorne & John Tiffany – Palace Theatre
3. Jane Wenham: Witch of Walkern by Rebecca Lenkiewicz – Out of Joint at the Arcola Theatre
4. Nell Gwynn by Jessica Swale – Apollo Theatre
5. One Night in Miami by Kemp Powers – Donmar Warehouse
6. People, Places and Things by Duncan Macmillan – Headlong at the National & Wyndham’s Theatres
8. Pink Mist by Owen Sheers – Bush Theatre
9. The Spoils by Jesse Eisenberg – Trafalgar Studios
10. Tonight with Donny Stixx by Philip Ridley – The Bunker

Mark Gatiss in The Boys in the Band at the Park Theatre

Mark Gatiss in The Boys in the Band at the Park Theatre

My top 10 play revivals of 2016

1. ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore – Tristan Bates Theatre
2. Buried Child – Trafalgar Studios
3. Dead Funny – Vaudeville Theatre
4. How the Other Half Loves – Theatre Royal Haymarket
5. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – National Theatre
6. Steel Magnolias – Hope Theatre
7. The Boys in the Band – Park Theatre
8. The Maids – Trafalgar Studios
9. Travesties – Menier Chocolate Factory
10. Welcome Home, Captain Fox! – Donmar Warehouse

Andy Karl and Andrew Langtree in Groundhog Day at the Old Vic

Andy Karl and Andrew Langtree in Groundhog Day at the Old Vic

My top 15 musicals of 2016

1. Funny Girl – Menier Chocolate Factory & Savoy Theatre
2. Grey Gardens – Southwark Playhouse
3. Groundhog Day – Old Vic Theatre
4. Guys & Dolls – Savoy & Phoenix Theatres
5. Half a Sixpence – Noel Coward Theatre
6. Her Aching Heart – Hope Theatre
7. Jesus Christ Superstar – Open Air Theatre
8. Mrs Henderson Presents – Noel Coward Theatre
9. Murder Ballad – Arts Theatre
10. School of Rock – New London Theatre
11. She Loves Me – Menier Chocolate Factory
12. Show Boat – New London Theatre
13. The Buskers Opera – Park Theatre
14. The Go-Between – Apollo Theatre
15. Vanities – Trafalgar Studios

The Complete Walk along the Thames to Shakespeare's Globe on 24 April 2016. © Peter Jones

The Complete Walk along the Thames to Shakespeare’s Globe on 24 April 2016. © Peter Jones

My top 5 events of 2016

1. Eddie Izzard’s Force Majeure, which he brought home to the West End’s Palace Theatre in January after a world tour. With its jubilant, pro-European message, it seemed to be a good omen ahead of June’s referendum… if only it had been
2. Beyond the Fence, the world’s first-ever musical written by a computer, which ran at the Arts Theatre as part of a Sky Arts documentary
3. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’s opening made international headlines but every performance seems like an event thanks to the audience of Potterheads, the welcoming Palace staff and the sheer spectacle of the show
4. The premiere of Drew McOnie’s radical new dance version of Jekyll & Hyde at the Old Vic felt like the birth of a modern classic
5. The widespread #Shakespeare400 celebrations, including the RSC’s super-stellar #ShakespeareLive broadcast and the Globe’s Complete Walk along the South Bank of the Thames

Honorouble mentions here go to:

  • The launch of the London Musical Theatre Orchestra, under the stewardship of musical director Freddie Tapner
  • HighTide Festival. Though the ten-day festival of new writing has been running for ten years in Suffolk, the 2016 event market my HighTide ‘debut’ and I absolutely loved it. I’ll definitely be returning.
Gemma Arterton as Nell Gwynn in Jessica Swales' play at the West End's Apollo Theatre. © Helen Maybanks

Gemma Arterton as Nell Gwynn in Jessica Swales’ play at the West End’s Apollo Theatre. © Helen Maybanks

My top 15 performances of 2016

1. Amanda MuggletonThe Book Club, King’s Head Theatre
2. Charlotte Hope – Buried Child, Trafalgar Studios
3. Charlie StempHalf a Sixpence, Noel Coward Theatre
4. Daniel MaysThe Caretaker, Old Vic Theatre
5. Denise GoughPeople, Places and Things, Wyndham’s Theatre
6. Gemma Arterton – Nell Gwynn, Apollo Theatre
7. Katherine Kingsley – Welcome Home, Captain Fox!, Donmar Warehouse (followed closely by her scene-stealing cameo in She Loves Me at the Menier Chocolate Factory)
8. Lucy WilliamsonThe Fix, Union Theatre
9. Luke WrightWhat I learned from Johnny Bevan, Soho Theatre
10. Ruby WaxSane New World, Arts Theatre
11. Samantha BarksThe Last Five Years, St James Theatre
12. Sheridan Smith – Funny Girl, Savoy Theatre
13. Tom HollanderTravesties, Menier Chocolate Factory
14. Tracie Bennett – Mrs Henderson Presents, Noel Coward
15. Tyrone Huntley – Jesus Christ Superstar, Open Air

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