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14 shows we want to see return to the stage in 2020

Our Christmas wishlist!

Samuel Blenkin and Marli Siu
© Manuel Harlan

There have been some pretty brilliant shows over the last few years that we've always wished would have a further life – either in the West End or transferring to any of the stellar venues across the UK. Since it's almost 2020, here's a list of productions we'd love to see back on our stages – we were chuffed to see Romantics Anonymous and City of Angels recently being announced, so dreams can come true!

Standing at the Sky's Edge

Nicole Deon as Connie in Standing at the Sky's Edge
© Johan Persson

We could basically put most of Sheffield Theatres' 2019 season on this list – shows like The Last King of Scotland or Guys and Dolls have all been rollicking blasts. But we thought we'd highlight Chris Bush's magnificent musical created alongside Richard Hawley, which won Best Musical at the UK Theatre Awards.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Samuel Blenkin and Marli Siu in The Ocean at the End of The Lane
© Manuel Harlan

Yes, it's still running, but the phenomenal reaction to the National Theatre's nearly-sold-out (so snap to it!) adaptation of Neil Gaiman's book is more than enough of a reason to pine for a return outing for Katy Rudd and Joel Horwood's new fantasy drama. Following a young boy who stumbles across both a dead body in a car and a house full of witches, it is magical and mysterious in all the right ways. Oh and, if the National is doing revivals, then another run for Small Island would be lush.

Present Laughter

Andrew Scott as Garry Essendine and Enzo Cilenti as Joe Lyppiatt in Present Laughter
© Manuel Harlan

We're basically just asking for more Andrew Scott to grace our stages, but Matthew Warchus' reimagining of Present Laughter was such a finely wrought play (bagging a whopping eight WhatsOnStage Awards nominations) that it needs to be seen again regardless.

A German Life

Maggie Smith in A German Life
© Helen Maybanks 2019

Maggie Smith returned to the stage earlier this year and managed to claim her *fifth* Evening Standard Award for her turn in the sell-out A German Life, about the true story of a young woman who works in the Nazi regime and has to deal with the consequences of her life choices. There's a few months' gap in the Bridge's 2020 programming, so, who knows, we may be in luck.


Monica Dolan, Steven MacKintosh and Edward Hogg in Appropriate
© Johan Persson

There was something unsettlingly brilliant about Branden Jacobs-Jenkins' play, directed by Ola Ince and featuring a charged central performance from Monica Dolan. The show's run at the Donmar Warehouse was met by a majorly positive critical reaction, so if the right space became available, this incredible drama could well be looking at another life.

This Is My Family

Sheila Hancock and Kirsty MacLaren in This is My Family
© Johan Persson

Sarah Crompton recently described this show as her favourite musical of the year, and after a sell-out run in Chichester's smaller space with direction by Daniel Evans, it seems likely that it's destined for greater things (a run in Sheffield and a tour occurred back in 2013). James Nesbitt, Clare Burt, Sheila Hancock and more starred in the production, and fingers crossed will all return for another outing.

Fun Home

Kaisa Hammarlund in Fun Home
© Marc Brenner

We've been waiting and waiting and are really hoping that, unlike the majority of residents at Bechdel Funeral Home, the dreams of a transfer aren't dead. The show was an all-out marvel when first staged at the Young Vic back in 2018 and, while it didn't get major awards recognition, it won big with a lot of audiences. If it can work for City of Angels, then why can't it work for Fun Home?

Glass. Kill. Bluebeard. Imp.

Toby Jones, Deborah Findlay and Sule Rimi in Bluebeard's Friends
© Johan Persson

It's pretty obvious that Caryl Churchill should have her own dedicated West End theatre at some point soon (hey, if it worked for Coward, Pinter or Garrick...) but for now we'd just about settle for a revival of her masterful series of short plays, which had its world premiere at the Royal Court this autumn.

The Last Five Years

Raffie Julien and Anthony Snowden (dancing Cathy and Jamie)
© Kirsten McTernan

Yes, there's already one production of The Last Five Years that we're dead excited about, but the Leeway version, which ran at the Wales Millenium Centre in November 2018, sounds brilliantly accessible and inventive. The show was notable for utilising two signing dancers – Raffie Julien and Anthony Snowden – alongside the pair of singing performers. Director Angharad Lee and choreographer Mark Smith (Deaf Men Dancing) got rave reactions to their new take on the classic Jason Robert Brown romance, and we'd love to see it back for another run.

Sing Yer Heart Out For The Lads

Makir Ahmed in Sing Yer Heart Out For The Lads
© Manuel Harlan

Nicole Charles had a pretty spectacular 2019 – her production of Morgan Lloyd Malcolm's Emilia was a joyous presence in the West End, and her Chichester Festival Theatre adaptation of Roy Williams' hit play Sing Yer Heart Out For The Lads won the full five stars from WhatsOnStage. As it was staged in a pop-up spiegeltent in Chichester, hopefully Charles' charged version of the play can reappear somewhere soon!

Crocodile Fever

Lisa Dwyer Hogg in Crocodile Fever
© Lara Cappelli

There were some cracking shows at the Edinburgh Fringe this year – especially at the mould-breaking Traverse Theatre. In terms of technical achievement and top-tier fun, Meghan Tyler's barmy, bloody Crocodile Fever (about two sisters at each others' throats) really wowed with punters, and we'd love to see it make a comeback somewhere in the UK.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

(l-r) Matt Burns, Philippa Hogg, James Marlowe, Joey Hickman, Rosalind Ford
© Jethro Compton Productions

Brad Pitt may have monopolised the Benjamin Button market for the time being, but this folks-y show about a man who ages in reverse was a testament to the power of Off-West End musicals. It enjoyed a stellar season at Southwark Playhouse and fingers crossed will find new life in the new year.


Amber Gray in the Broadway production of Hadestown
© Matthew Murphy

This reinterpretation of the classic Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice was at the National last October before promptly disappearing without a "wait for me"! But we're hoping that the Tony Award-winning storm of a show will be back at/on some stage in 2020. Murmurings will always surround such a high-profile production, but we'll just have to wait and see what the gods will grant us.

Cruel Intentions

Cruel Intentions
© The Other Richard

Another Edinburgh Fringe hit with all the right credentials was the musical version of Cruel Intentions, which had a cast of West End stars alongside a witty book and enough cheesy tunes to rival & Juliet. We've heard that the show was on the hunt for a suitable in-the-round space to mirror the Fringe experience, but who knows what will come in the new year!