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2021 Year in Review: Natalie O'Donoghue's Best of 2021

2021 Year in Review: Natalie O'Donoghue's Best of 2021

2021 Year in Review: Natalie O'Donoghue's Best of 2021

2021 has been an undeniably tough year for UK theatre as performances were gradually allowed to take place and adapt in line with government guidelines.

My first live performance of the year was Adventures With The Painted People at Pitlochry's beautiful amphitheatre in June. Pitlochry is a little bit out of the way if you don't drive as the train service is irregular but it is well worth the effort. Next up was The Wind in the Willows at Pitlochry's beautiful outside amphitheatre in July which was an utter delight and my first 5-star production of the year!

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe was a bit of a mixed bag for me. While it was exciting to see some sort of return to the festival, it felt a bit forced and communal spaces where I would normally go to write reviews or grab food between shows were all closed. There were a lot of open spaces for food and drink but this was dependent on the slightly tricky Edinburgh weather and can end up being quite an expensive option. The majority of my friends were absent and the usual buzz and atmosphere was definitely missing.

The real triumph of the Fringe this year was the variety of streaming content available and it would be great to see that be something that continues in the future to make the festival more accessible. My production highlights were: Dark Spirits, Black Humour; Gash Theatre Gets Ghosted; The Entertainment and Cash Point Meet.

With the West End reopening ahead of Scottish theatre I've spent a fair bit of time in London taking in big West End musicals such as Frozen, Pretty Woman, Moulin Rouge and Back to the Future. Having had my Frozen tickets rescheduled a few times, it was worth the wait and I loved every second of it. Moulin Rouge was perhaps the most I've ever spent on a London theatre ticket and I'm excited to be doing that all over again in January as it truly is a spectacle.

While slow to get started, regional theatre has been blessed with some incredible touring theatre with Disney bringing both Beauty and the Beast and Bedknobs and Broomsticks to Edinburgh and Glasgow in the autumn. The latter isn't a film I'm overly familiar with and I was completely blown away by the onstage magic and what a beautiful production it is. I'm also a tiny bit smug that Bedknobs and Broomsticks is starting out as a touring production rather than London getting all of the good stuff first!

Also for non-reviewing purposes I made a little weekend trip to Newcastle for the first preview of The Drifters Girl. I booked the show as I am a huge fan of Beverley Knight and it's nice to see another big production previewing outside of London. The following cast announcement blew my mind as I adore Matt Henry and I hope to make a return visit to see it at the Garrick in 2022.

Rounding the year off with the usual pantomimes, the festive offerings just felt a little more magical this year. The King's Theatre Glasgow panto Cinderella was the best I've seen at that venue in years and I absolutely adored it. Dundee Rep staged a wonderfully refreshing and innovative production of A Christmas Carol that definitely left me filled with festive cheer!

It's been a rough year for UK theatre but I feel as though I managed to spend the second half of the year making up for lost time and I'm crossing my fingers for a packed 2022...!

What have been your top productions of 2021? Tweet us @BWWScotland and @BroadwayworldUK to let us know!

Photo credit: Johan Persson

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