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Clockwise from top left: Matt Henry in Kinky Boots, John Heffernan in Oppenheimer, Greg Hicks and Peter Bourke in Clarion, Derren Brown in Miracle and Noma Dumezweni in Linda

Clockwise from top left: Matt Henry in Kinky Boots, John Heffernan in Oppenheimer, Greg Hicks and Peter Bourke in Clarion, Derren Brown in Miracle and Noma Dumezweni in Linda

After rounding up various publications’ #theatre2015 highlights yesterday, it’s time to reflect on my own year in the stalls (well, mainly in the stalls, occasionally in the dress circle).

I don’t pretend for a minute that these lists are definitive of the theatregoing year overall; they represent only my personal opinions on the shows I’ve managed to see (a little over 130).

There were many more shows I didn’t manage to catch, and am still kicking myself about, due to other commitments, including several that have topped other lists: Farinelli and the King, Four Minutes and Twelve Seconds, Husbands and Sons, Man and Superman, Oresteia, Temple, The Motherfucker with the Hat and People, Places and Things.

Please note, productions on these are listed in alphabetical order, not ranking!

Further down the page, you’ll also find links to other #theatre2015 top picks from some of my colleagues at My Theatre Mates.

Penelope Wilton in Taken at Midnight, Mark Hayhurst's debut play, which transferred from Chichester to the Haymarket

Penelope Wilton in Taken at Midnight, Mark Hayhurst’s debut play, which transferred from Chichester to the Haymarket

My Top 10 new plays of 2015

  1. A Level Playing Field – Jermyn Street
  2. Bad Jews – St James and Arts
  3. Clarion – Arcola
  4. Crouch, Touch, Pause, Engage – Out of Joint at the Arcola
  5. Hangmen – Royal Court and Wyndham’s
  6. Mr Foote’s Other Leg – Hampstead and Theatre Royal Haymarket
  7. Oppenheimer – RSC at the Vaudeville
  8. Rotterdam – Theatre503
  9. Taken at Midnight – Theatre Royal Haymarket
  10. The Father – Tricycle and Wyndham’s
Jake Davies, Thomas Coombes and Josh Williams in Tooting Arts Club's production of Barbarians

Jake Davies, Thomas Coombes and Josh Williams in Tooting Arts Club’s production of Barbarians

My Top 10 play revivals of 2015

  1. American Buffalo – Wyndham’s
  2. Barbarians – Tooting Arts Club
  3. Death of a Salesman – RSC at the Noel Coward
  4. Henry V – Lazarus at the Union
  5. Lovesong of the Electric Bear – Hope Theatre and Above the Arts
  6. Peter Pan – Open Air
  7. Splendour – Donmar Warehouse
  8. Tamburlaine – Lazarus at Tristan Bates
  9. The Absence of War – Headlong at the Rose, Kingston
  10. To Kill a Mockingbird – Open Air at the Barbican
Matt Henry in Kinky Boots at the West End's Adelphi Theatre

Matt Henry in Kinky Boots at the West End’s Adelphi Theatre

My Top 10 musicals of 2015

  1. American Idiot – Arts
  2. Bend It Like Beckham – Phoenix
  3. Bugsy Malone – Lyric Hammersmith
  4. Gypsy – CFT at the Savoy
  5. Kinky Boots – Adelphi
  6. Love Birds – Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh Fringe
  7. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers – Open Air
  8. Showstopper: The Improvised Musical – Apollo
  9. The Stationmaster – Tristan Bates
  10. Through the Mill – London Theatre Workshop
Derren Brown performs miracles in Miracle at the West End's Palace Theatre

Derren Brown performs miracles in Miracle at the West End’s Palace Theatre

My Top 5 theatre events of 2015

  1. Derren Brown’s miraculous show Miracle, lifting spirits and saving souls at the Palace Theatre
  2. Hey, Old Friends, the 85th birthday tribute concert to Stephen Sondheim at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane
  3. Philip Pullman’s Grimm Tales, the immersive fairytale experience at Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf
  4. The opening day of the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company – with first two (or three, depending on how you count them) offerings The Winter’s Tale and All On Her Own/Harlequinade – at the West End’s Garrick Theatre
  5. The Vote telecast live from the Donmar Warehouse on election night in final 90 minutes of polling
Johnny Flynn in Martin McDonagh's Hangmen, now transferred from the Royal Court to the West End's Wyndham's Thaetre

Johnny Flynn in Martin McDonagh’s Hangmen, now transferred from the Royal Court to the West End’s Wyndham’s Thaetre

My Top 15 performances of 2015

  1. Aaron SidwellAmerican Idiot, Arts
  2. Andrew ScottThe Dazzle, Found 111
  3. Anna Francolini wonder.land, National
  4. Ben ForsterElf, Dominion
  5. Bertie CarvelThe Hairy Ape, Old Vic
  6. Giles TereraPure Imagination, St James
  7. Greg HicksClarion, Arcola
  8. Imelda StauntonGypsy, CFT at the Savoy
  9. John HeffernanOppenheimer, RSC at the Vaudeville
  10. Johnny FlynnHangmen, Royal Court and Wyndham’s
  11. Noma DumezweniLinda, Royal Court
  12. Philip BrethertonTony’s Last Tape, Bridge House
  13. Steven WightMcQueen, St James and Haymarket
  14. Thomas Coombes – Tooting Arts Club’s Barbarians
  15. Zoe WanamakerStevie, Hampstead
Alice McCarthy and Anna Martine in Jon Brittain's Rotterdam at Theatre503

Alice McCarthy and Anna Martine in Jon Brittain’s Rotterdam at Theatre503

Ones to watch in 2016 and beyond

These are up-and-comers who all caught my attention this past year. I can’t wait to see what they do next.

Performers

  • Lucy Penrose – seen in Through the Mill at London Theatre Workshop
  • Nikki Patel – seen in Future Conditional at the Old Vic
  • Jake Davies – seen in Tooting Arts Club’s Barbarians at the former building of the Central Saint Martin’s Art College
  • George Knapper – seen in Love Birds at the Edinburgh Fringe
  • Liberty Buckland – seen in Yarico at London Theatre Workshop

Writers

 


 

More top picks from My Theatre Mates

Jonathan Baz’s top picks of 2015
Jonathan’s choices include: Anything Goes, Barbarians, Carrie, Casa Valentina, Death of a Salesman, Funny Girl, Gypsy, Mrs Henderson Presents, Oppenheimer, Show Boat, The Grand Tour, The Merchant of Venice, The Producers and Tommy.
Matt Merritt’s top picks of 2015
Matt’s favourites, seen variously in London and on tour, include: American Buffalo, Anything Goes, As You Like It, Damsel in Distress, Farinelli and the King, Grand Hotel, The Merchant of Venice, The Importance of Being Earnest and two different productions of Henry V.
Laura Kressly’s top picks of 2015
Laura’s choices, mainly from London’s thriving fringe scene, include: Town Hall Cherubs, This is How We Die, Tether, Shakespeare and the Alchemy of Gender, Pomona, Light, Eclipsed, Don Q and Carmen Disruption.
Caroline Hanks-Farmer’s top picks of 2015
Caroline’s favourites from London were: As Is, Beautiful, Four Minutes Twelve Seconds, Jersey Boys, Lord of the Dance, McQueen, Oresteia, See What I Wanna See, The Commitments, The Wasp and Tommy.
Kristy Stott’s top picks of 2015
On the Manchester theatre scene, Kristy’s top shows of the past year were: Beautiful Thing, Boeing Boeing, Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Golem, Kafka’s Monkey, Nirbhaya, Shooting with Light, The Rolling Stone, Wicked and Yen.
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