16 shows we want to see return to the stage in 2022
We share our hopes for the New Year...
Over the past few years, there have been some outstanding pieces of theatre and we feel they deserve the opportunity to be staged again. Whether a West End transfer, the launch of a new UK tour or perhaps a return engagement at one of our country's fine regional establishments, we've got everything crossed that we may well get to see a selection of these shows mounted in front of live audiences one more time.
This funky female-penned new musical was a firm hit in Northampton and needs a future life! As big fans of all things gin in WOS towers, to see a show that deepdives into the 18th-century world of sozzle-ment and social injustice is a big win. AW.
Written and performed by Jack Holden, Cruise was one of the shows leading the charge to get our theatres back up and running in May of this year. Throughout its limited run at the West End's Duchess Theatre, Holden delivered a pulsating tour de force performance exploring life in Soho during the outbreak of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s. TM
Is God Is
Aleshea Harris' piece caused a bit of a stir when it had its UK premiere – the bloody Western revenge tale was critically loved by some, while also picking up a fun one-star take-down from The Times. Anything causing that sort of reaction from the publication is well worth a return outing! AW
Even though audiences still have the chance to experience the Hope Mill Theatre's exuberant revival of The Wiz until 16 January at its Manchester venue, we're already hoping for a future life for the production. Maybe it could even "ease on down the road" on an extensive UK tour? TM
Life is a Dream
Jo Clifford wowed Scottish audiences with this revelatory take on Pedro Calderón's Life is a Dream, a 17th-century play that lives up to its fantastical, abstract title. "If that's a dream, then don't wake me up", our critic Simon Thompson said – well here we are dreaming of a return affair. AW
What's New Pussycat?
Birmingham Rep's 5-star new musical gleefully merges Henry Fielding's 1749 novel The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling with the bombastic back catalogue of another Tom Jones – a certain Welsh singing sensation – and the swinging sixties! What more do you need?... Oh, a West End transfer as soon as humanly possible, please! TM
Billed by many as one of the most impressive and urgent new plays of the year, this new writing piece imagines a world without fish. It's penned by Marek Horn, who also wowed with (another nautically titled) Wild Swimming in 2019, and given where the world seems to be headed, it should have a lengthy and well-exposed life. AW
The last few years (none least a certain Strictly win) has highlighted the need and desire for more inclusion for the Deaf community within the arts. Ramps on the Moon's 5-star adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic Oliver Twist held accessibility at its heart when it debuted at the Leeds Playhouse in the spring of 2020 and it's left us saying: "Please, sir, I want some more." TM
When much-loved director Katie Mitchell decides to direct a show based on a very new and well-received book in a basement studio in Hampstead, it's likely the results will be pretty top notch. As was the case in little scratch, adapted by Miriam Battye from Rebecca Watson's text. A jewel of a piece that deserves as much exposure as it can. AW
West Side Story
Something's Coming... we hope! Before the pandemic, Curve's 2019 mounting of West Side Story was originally met with exceedingly high expectations and did not fail to deliver. Following Steven Spielberg's masterful new take on the classic 1957 Broadway musical and the sad passing of its lyricist Stephen Sondheim, we can't think of a better time for this production to be revived and pay homage, either in the West End or on tour. TM
New writing prize company Papatango has a knack for finding powerhouse plays and giving them a platform to thrive – as is proved by Igor Memic's WOSAward-nominated Old Bridge, which crafts a human story amidst the intense conflicts in the Balkans at the end of the 20th century. Full of heart, heroics and, amidst the horror, humour, it's an assured debut from a brilliant playwright. AW.
Kudos to the Old Vic for launching its widely praised "In Camera" series, which helped to fill theatrical voids during the lockdowns. One of the highlights was the world premiere of Stephen Beresford's Three Kings, starring Andrew Scott, whose performance was described as "impeccable" by our very own Sarah Crompton in her 5-star review from September 2020. Following Scott's knockout performance as Garry Essendine in the 2019 revival of Noël Coward's Present Laughter, we can't think of a more kingly return to the Old Vic's stage. TM
Here's a sad one – we expected Jamie Lloyd's Open Air Theatre production to have a brilliant, kaleidoscopic life at the Barbican in 2020, only for the pandemic to derail those plans completely. The WOSAward-winning show will be back at some stage, we hope, as it was an utter transformation of Lloyd Webber and Price's initial material. While we're at it – we're still waiting on that West End transfer of The Boy in the Dress – which the RSC will surely keep on the cards. AW
Another Hope Mill Theatre revival makes our list with Jonathan Larson's epochal musical Rent. After being shut down in November 2020 after only five performances, the 5-star production resiliently made it back to the stage this past summer. But we feel a further life should be on the cards for this one and we can't wait another five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes until we see it again! TM
My Son's A Queer But What Can You Do?
Rob Madge's debut play was so hard to get tickets for we almost considered tunnelling through the walls of the train line next to the Turbine Theatre in order to watch the heartwarming comedy. With their brilliant charm and joyous tale, Madge is an up-and-coming leading light in UK theatre and this show surely has a long journey ahead. AW.
The Long Song
Speaking of long journeys, Andrea Levy's much-loved text was meticulously adapted for the stage by Suhayla El‑Bushra (The Suicide) in Chichester earlier this year, with many calling for a West End transfer. We wholeheartedly agree – it was but one of a plethora of top-notch shows coming from the venue this year.
We did a similar list in 2019 and, given how 2020 panned out, a lot of these still apply – including Hadestown, Present Laughter, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Fun Home.