It may have been in the West End for almost a year now, but the Kinks musical Sunny Afternoon has suddenly been pushed very much into the spotlight following its triumph at last weekend’s Olivier Awards. The show took home four titles - Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor in a Musical, Outstanding Achievement in Music, and Best New Musical - and features lots of much-loved hits from the 60s. I particularly enjoyed Ray Davies’ acceptance speech: "The next time you’re sitting in a park somewhere and you see someone like me looking at you, don't phone the police. I'm just writing about you.” Nice.
My Twitter feed suddenly exploded on Friday morning, and didn’t stop buzzing all day. Why? Because the legend that is Sir Kenneth Branagh has announced a season of five plays at the Garrick Theatre for 2015/16, including The Winter’s Tale, starring Dame Judi Dench; Romeo and Juliet, with Richard Madden and Lily James; and The Painkiller, with Rob Brydon. Oh, and Kenneth Branagh’s in all of them, too. But which one to see? That is the question…
It beat my personal favourite, Shakespeare In Love, to the Best New Comedy award at the Oliviers, and The Play That Goes Wrong looks very silly and quite mad. But that’s okay, because I like mad. Described as ‘Fawlty Towers meets Noises Off’, it’s the story of an amateur dramatic society trying to put on a murder mystery, and failing spectacularly. It began life as a one-act play over a pub, before transferring to the West End thanks to popular demand. And if that many people want to see it, it must be pretty good.
Another one that caused Twitter to go crazy. Starring the fantastic Imelda Staunton as the ultimate pushy mother, the new revival of Gypsy has been called ‘the most exciting thing I have seen on a stage’ by The Times. And it swept the board after its opening night last week, with 5-star reviews (and one 6-star!), and particular praise for Staunton and her co-star Lara Pulver. Based on the memoirs of burlesque artist Gypsy Rose Lee, this show is undoubtedly one of the hottest tickets in the West End right now.
The London production of Beautiful opened in February, to more rave reviews. The show charts the life and early career of songwriter Carole King, who wrote some of the world’s best loved songs for other acts, before embarking on her own solo career. Much like Jersey Boys, the show is full of classic hits that I never realised were written by Carole King - and with an inspiring story and a fantastic cast led by the show’s award-winning star, Katie Brayben, Beautiful has definitely found its way on to my list.
What’s on your must-see theatre list this spring?