Okay. So. In every other aspect, 2016 blew, big-time, but MEviews has come in with some joy for movie predictions that have come true. Now, Mark Shenton announced his top 10 musical revivals of 2016 and two big hits in the MEviews Theatre category: Ragtime and Guys and Dolls came in second and sixth, respectively. (Click on the title to see the original reviews.)
This time last week I celebrated the top 10 new musicals of 2016 (or at least new to Britain). This week I turn to the 10 musical revivals that gave me the most pleasure this year. Sometimes it is enough that a revival gives you the chance to wallow anew in a show you know and already love, but other revivals let you see and hear them with fresh eyes and ears. Those are the sort I really love – and most of these fall into this category.
“Director Thom Southerland is fast becoming a one-man industry for reviving and reinventing neglected and/or problematic Broadway musicals with a sweeping magnificence – he makes them soar anew.” So I said in my review, and so it proved at Charing Cross Theatre where he has become artistic director, launching a season of musicals with a revival of his stirring 2013 production of Titanic that was followed by this stunning production of Ahrens and Flaherty’s 1997 Broadway show Ragtime, employing a company of 24 actor-musicians. Next up: Southerland will offer the UK premiere of Maury Yeston’s Death Takes a Holiday in January.
6. Guys and Dolls
A scene from Guys and Dolls at the Savoy Theatre. Photo: Paul Coltas
Frank Loesser’s greatest valentine to Broadway’s own hallowed streets, Guys and Dolls, is hands-down my favourite musical of all time, so it was great to have it back in town – first at the Savoy, then at the Phoenix – in a production that transferred from Chichester. Jamie Parker, reprising his Chichester performance as Sky Masterson before going on to play the adult Harry Potter in the West End, was a stand-out in the original company; he was subsequently replaced at the Phoenix by the dashing Oliver Tompsett, one of the best male voices in the West End. Other replacements across the run saw Miss Adelaide played in turn by the brilliant Samantha Spiro and the stunt casting of Australian film comedy star Rebel Wilson that also paid off surprisingly well.