12 shows we want to see return to the stage in 2019
Some shows just need another life!
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 2019, here's a list of shows we'd love to see back on our stages – though it's worth admitting we had to take Emilia off the list as it recently announced a very exciting West End transfer! So maybe dreams really can come true...
Our only spillover from last year's list is Emma Rice's sweet-as-chocolate musical Romantics Anonymous, which had a tender and magical premiere in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse in the autumn of 2017. Apparently, a number of producers have had a crack at trying to make it work in the West End (and some, we've heard, are still trying!) so perhaps this could be Rice's follow-up to Wise Children? Or, better yet, could the Menier Chocolate Factory programme it?
We always thought that Fun Home's spell at the Young Vic was just a quick stop off before a West End slot, so we waited for the transfer news in anticipation. And we waited. And we waited. And we're still waiting! Our chief critic Sarah Crompton said it "reaches a level of emotional honesty that other musicals just don't begin to touch" so please 2019, can you let us revisit the Bechdel funeral home?
ear for eye
debbie tucker green's most recent show, ear for eye, was a typically staggering and epic exploration of contemporary issues of race. Sarah Crompton described it as "an insightful, vivid, sobering and unforgettable evening". It also features one of the cracking new Doctor Who companions in the form of Tosin Cole, whose performances in both shows have been widely praised. green's had a pretty great 2018, and we'd love to see that momentum carry through into the new year.
Playwright Laura Wade already has one major smash hit transferring for another life, can we make it two? Home, I'm Darling starring Katherine Parkinson is headed for the Duke of York's Theatre in the West End, but we're also keen to see more of Wade's meta-theatrical examination of Jane Austen's unfinished novel The Watsons, which garnered rave reviews when it first opened in Chichester's Minerva Theatre. Featuring existential theory and jokey dissections of Austen tropes, this could be a cracking crowd pleaser. Speaking of Chichester Festival Theatre shows...
Me and My Girl
The five-star success of Daniel Evans' production of the classic British musical left everyone eager for Me and My Girl back in the West End, breathing new life into a classic many would consider passé. It seemed that a trip to the big smoke was a cert, especially after the Chichester Theatre production's star Matt Lucas tweeted saying there would be a London transfer coming! And then...nothing. We'll just have to wait and see.
Caroline O'Connor skated on over to London to star in the revival of Kander and Ebb's roller-diner musical alongside Gemma Sutton (who is about to head to the National to appear in the returning production of Follies) earlier this year for a hotly anticipated run. The show picked up some great reviews (it featured tap dancing – on skates!) and tickets disappeared faster than you could believe. We'd love to get a second chance at seeing O'Connor in action once more.
The Madness of George III
Adam Penford's 2018 has been pretty peachy. His opening season at Nottingham Playhouse was met with consistent critical acclaim, and fingers crossed 2019 should be a repeated trick. We'd love to see his production of Alan Bennett's The Madness of George III, combined with some stellar performances from Mark Gatiss, Adrian Scarborough and a top-notch cast get a return outing, with the show ending up as the Playhouse's top-selling production ever. Our critic James WIllstrop said it was "a fascinating, intelligent exploration of power", and we always need more of those!
Go Eugenius! We were gutted when the show was forced to cancel its West End transfer in October of this year, so it only seems right that the show has a proper comeback soon. The show has amassed an incredibly loyal fanbase (so much so that it was nominated for five WhatsOnStage Awards earlier this month) so it definitely feels like there's a lot of punters ready to geek out over Ben Adams and Chris Wilkins' '80s nostalgia trip show.
Antony and Cleopatra
Its two leads, Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo, have both bagged Evening Standard Awards (Okonedo was also nominated for a WhatsOnStage Award), and it was met with unanimous praise by our critic Sarah Crompton when it first premiered. So seeing Fiennes, Okonedo (and that snake) carrying on in their roles as Shakespeare's tragic lovers now that they've sold out the Olivier would be a nice festive treat.
Little Shop of Horrors
Gordon Bennett this was a pretty stellar show wasn't it?? It wasn't hard to see green this summer with the rip-roaring summer spectacle up in Regent's Park. We'd love to see the production, which stars Marc Antolin (his second show on this list with Romantics Anonymous), Jemimah Rooper and Vicky Vox, have a further life somewhere. Hey, if it works for Jesus Christ Superstar it can work for Little Shop.
Kate Prince's brand new musical about the life of the Pankhurst family was one of the unluckiest plays of the year – beset by cast illnesses, it never felt like it got the necessary development time to reach its full potential. But it still boasted some killer tunes and trailblazing performances (Maria Omakinwa often stepping in for Genesis Lynea to provide a brilliant titular turn) so we'd love to see it return, if only to see it at its full potential. A web page on the Old Vic website says Sylvia is COMING SOON in big letters (though the cast and creative team are tbc) – so that means it must be happening, well, soon.
Another show about iconic women in history is the RSC's musical Miss Littlewood, exploring the life and legacy of the famous director Joan Littlewood, who founded Theatre Royal Stratford East. Catherine Vonledebur gave the show a solid five-star review when it first opened, labelling it quirky and "an anarchic delight". There's always room for more quirk on our stages (or perhaps a run actually at Stratford East?)