2019 Year in Review: Natalie O'Donoghue's Best of 2019

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2019 Year in Review: Natalie O'Donoghue's Best of 2019In 2019 I reviewed 97 shows for BroadwayWorld along with seeing a whole heap of shows for fun on top of that. I spent my year seeing as much new writing as I could and revisiting productions that I had already seen and loved. In previous years I've written up my best and worst shows but to be honest, I'd rather focus solely on the positive because there's enough negativity these days...!

I had vowed to get out and about more in 2019 and visit some regional venues that I hadn't been to before. This isn't the time or place to complain about rail travel in this country but I found it all to be a lot more hassle and expensive than expected- even booking months in advance. My best adventures included heading up to Dundee to see my beloved My Left Right Foot again (one of my highlights of the 2018 Edinburgh Festival Fringe); A Thousand Splendid Suns at Newcastle's Northern Stage and A Christmas Carol at Pitlochry Festival Theatre.

My unabashed love for What Girls Are Made Of continued into 2019 and I visited the show again on its Scottish tour at Stirling's MacRobert Theatre, Glasgow Tramway and for one last time at the Fringe. It pains me to accept that I'll probably never see it again and its definitely one of the most influential pieces I've seen in the last decade.

The plays that really stuck with me over the year were Stef Smith's Nora: A Dolls House at Tramway in Glasgow (also coming to the Young Vic in February) and Kieran Hurley's Mouthpiece (on tour in 2020) at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh in August. Both had such rich writing that I had to buy myself the playtexts because I wanted to read them again afterwards.

During the festival it's a struggle to get to see half the shows I want to see so its a real testament to Christina Bianco's First Impressions that I managed to fit in two visits during its run. I didn't review the show as I am a completely biased superfan but fellow BWW review Fiona Scott gave her the five stars she absolutely deserved.

2019 was the year with my least West End trips as I felt like I had a terrible run of paying an awful lot of money for tickets, travel and accommodation for underwhelming shows. I made it down early in the year to see Waitress and All My Sons and I really loved both of them. Waitress so much so that I braved the overnight Megabus again in June for Katharine McPhee's final performance.

I caught Amelie at the King's Theatre in Glasgow in August and I really regret not being able to make a second trip because I was too consumed with the Edinburgh festival. An absolute delight of a musical. I was also thrilled about the return of SIX on tour and went along in November with a group of non-regular theatre goers who has an absolute ball. Another touring musical I enjoyed was On Your Feet! the story of Gloria and Emilio Estefan at Edinburgh's Festival Theatre in October and I hope to manage another visit when it comes to the King's Theatre in Glasgow in March.

Comedy wise I saw the bulk of my standup at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and Glasgow Comedy Festival. My Edinburgh highlight was Song Bird by Vikki Stone (which I went back to see on tour in October) and I really loved Ashley Storrie's Hysterical (which is now streaming on NextUp Comedy and I thoroughly recommend). I also had a lot of love for Stephen Buchanan's Baby Dove, Sooz Kempner's Mega Drive and Jenny Bede: The Musical which just made me really happy during the stress of another August spent in Edinburgh.

What were your favourite shows of 2019? Tweet us @BWWScotland and let us know!

Photo credit: Johan Persson

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