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5 Shows I'd Most Like To See When Theatre Returns

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5 Shows I'd Most Like To See When Theatre Returns
Kinky Boots will 'Raise You Up'

Just five shows? Right now, I would settle on seeing pretty much anything in a theatre, legs pressed against the seat in front of me and an overpriced beverage in hand.

With the Government's recent announcement of a rescue package for the arts, we can see a chink of light in the darkness that has enveloped the industry for so many months. Although we still don't have a date when theatres can reopen, we can dream about what we would like to see when it does, finally, happen...

West Side Story

With a combination of an unforgettable score by Leonard Bernstein and immersive lyrics by the great Stephen Sondheim, this update of Romeo and Juliet holds a special place in many hearts.

When West Side Story opened on Broadway in 1957, it changed nearly everything about musical theatre. It tackled controversial issues of the time such as immigration, mixed-race relationships, lack of economic opportunity, police targeting; could it be any more relevant for the world we live in today?

Manchester's Royal Exchange was due to revive their successful 2019 version of the show this spring, and it would be wonderful to witness a show that completely sweeps you away in the romance, heartbreak and energy. It is everything that musical theatre should be.

Here is the incredible balcony scene featuring a ravishing Sierra Boggess and Julian Ovenden from the BBC Proms in 2012.

Arcadia

Sometimes a play makes you work very hard to get the best out of it. Tom Stoppard's 1993 play Arcadia is certainly not an easy-going and light-hearted night out - but, if you stick with it, it is one of the most engrossing and sublimely clever plays you will ever see.

Deftly telling two stories in parallel, it is a kind of tragic farce, set in a manor house where the death of the universe is explored along with the nature of truth, sex and time.

Stoppard's writing is at its very best here, with an incredible use of wit along with ingenuity and seamless time-travelling. It can be intellectually dense to get through and needs a lightness of touch, along with a good dose of humour and emotion from the performers.

Here is the cast talking about spending a week working with Tom Stoppard himself. Please forgive the annoying background music!

Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake

Created in 1995, Swan Lake arguably remains choreographer Matthew Bourne's masterpiece. What Bourne did was unthinkable at the time: bringing an all-male version of Swan Lake to the stage and making it just as thrillingly beautiful as the traditional version.

It remains timeless in its elegance and emotion, with compelling storytelling and a magically subversive interpretation. Here is a blistering extract from the show from the finale of the Olivier Awards in 2019.

Kinky Boots

There are some shows that guarantee to leave you grinning from ear to ear as you leave the theatre, and Kinky Boots is certainly one of those. After a glorious but all-too-short West End run, the positively life-affirming show went on a successful UK tour and also had a cinema release.

The story of Charlie trying to save his family's shoe factory by manufacturing boots for drag queens is based on a true story and is as warm, heartfelt and bonkers as it sounds. With some truly brilliant music by Cyndi Lauper, fabulous choreography and characters developed with depth, sensitivity and humour, a revival of this musical is just what we need right now.

Here is the wonderful "Raise You Up" from West End Live 2018.

The History Boys

The genius of Alan Bennett has arguably never been more obvious than with his masterful The History Boys. The Olivier and Tony Award-winning play was an absolute smash at the National and then on Broadway. It launched the careers of some of our finest actors, such as James Corden and Russell Tovey, but underneath the stardust is a nuanced exploration of the differences between what it is to be educated to pass exams and what it is to be educated full stop.

The play is a brilliant combination of thoughtful comedy and genuine pathos, with some exquisitely drawn characters - particularly that of the achingly dry teacher Mrs Lintott, and Hector, originally played by the peerless Ricard Griffiths, who manages to be both reprehensible and sympathetic at the same time.

Here is Alan Bennett talking about the play on Theater Talk in 2006.

Which shows are you most looking forward to seeing post-lockdown? Let us know @BroadwayWorldUK! And read Gary Naylor's picks here!


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From This Author Aliya Al-Hassan