Theatre audiences have been spoilt throughout 2017 with a diverse range of programming from West Yorkshire Playhouse, The Grand, City Varieties, The Carriageworks, Stage@Leeds and more.
From dance to drama, musical to monologue, here are just some of the shows you shouldn't have missed throughout the year.
15. Aladdin the Rock 'n' Roll Panto
The Rock ’n’ Roll pantomime continues to be an essential tradition at the intimate City Varieties theatre, capitalising on the Music Hall’s cosy and magical Victorian surroundings.
Action-packed, bawdy and brimming full of mirth, merriment and magic, Aladdin is a compact collection of non-stop hits which will appeal to all ages. If you’re intending to see one pantomime this year, ensure it’s Aladdin.
Leeds City Varieties Music Hall: 24th November 2017 – 7th January 2018.
Read the full theatre review for Aladdin the Rock 'n' Roll Panto at Entertainment Focus.
14. Thoroughly Modern Millie
A dark runabout comedy punctuated with upbeat jazz numbers, Thoroughly Modern Millie scores big laughs in a substantial production, showcasing brassy arrangements and energetic dance routines.
Glitzy and glamorous, yet sleazy with a decidedly dark undertone, Thoroughly Modern Millie is a razzle-dazzle evocation of the roaring Twenties. Oozing charm, sass and style, this is a musical which delivers plenty of song and dance for your dollar.
Leeds Grand Theatre: 17th April – 22nd April 2017.
Read the full theatre review of Thoroughly Modern Millie at Entertainment Focus.
13. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is an ambitious, flamboyant and adventurous production which delivers an awesome breadth of scale and scope.
A coupling of innovative direction, richly-invested performance and capacious visuals, this gently seasonal, baroque re-imagining has successfully surmounted technical challenges to deliver a very special shared experience.
Lightly dusted with Christmas sparkle, this play invites all ages to enter a captivating winter world; it is an opportunity that many will wish to experience time and again.
West Yorkshire Playhouse: 29th November 2017 – 21st January 2018.
Read the full theatre review for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe at Entertainment Focus.
12. The Who's Tommy
Conceived as a concept album and subsequently adapted into a movie by Ken Russell, Tommy first played the West End in 1979 and has since enjoyed numerous revivals.
Kerry Michael directs this new version with a fresh approach; showcasing a cast of D/deaf and disabled performers, whilst providing access for visually impaired and D/deaf audiences.
Whilst the story is completely off the wall, the ingenuity in this version’s staging, in addition to a multi-talented cast, breathes new life and soul into a forty-year-old concept. Bold and boisterous, Tommy is an energetic attack on the senses and provides an edgy, accessible and memorable experience worthy of its long-cherished reputation.
West Yorkshire Playhouse: 4th – 13th May 2017.
Read the full theatre review of The Who's Tommy at West Yorkshire Playhouse at Entertainment Focus.
11. Mamma Mia! The Musical
As a musical, Mamma Mia has the distinct advantage of showcasing chart-topping numbers by one of the world’s most successful bands.
Irresistibly kitsch, camp and colourful, Mamma Mia fulfils every expectation as a truly uplifting, fun-filled jukebox musical. Each number hits home with a palpable disco drive, accompanied with lustrous choreography and non-stop spectacle.
Losing none of its original energy in this dynamic touring version, Mamma Mia is truly the place to go when you’re feeling down. Take a chance; go see.
Leeds Grand Theatre: May 30th - 8th July 2017.
Read the full theatre review of Mamma Mia at Entertainment Focus.
A wartime tale of courage and companionship, Lifeboat recounts the true story of Beth and Bess, two teenage evacuees who board The City of Benares liner destined for Canada. When a torpedo strikes their vessel mid-journey, the girls are cast adrift in a ferocious storm with little hope of recovery.
An immersive adventure beset with tragedy, Lifeboat is ultimately an uplifting story which captures the imagination through characterful writing and skillful delivery. Playful and spirited, the play demonstrates the resilience of friendship in the face of adversity and offers universal, timeless appeal in its heartwarming resolution.
West Yorkshire Playhouse: 2nd – 13th May 2017.
Read the full theatre review of Lifeboat at Entertainment Focus.
Drawing its title from the Greek myth about an artist who falls in love with his own sculpture, Pygmalion has influenced a body of cultural work in the past century, including adaptations such as My Fair Lady, Pretty Woman and more subtle derivations in Doctor Who and Sherlock Holmes.
In a bold re-imagining, director Sam Pritchard drags Pygmalion into an Ikea-furnished 21st Century, with Shaw’s original dialogue intact.
Pygmalion is a play which lives up to its hype and transcends time, due in part to its outstanding source material. Pritchard’s bold version retains the sharpness of Shaw’s writing, with all the bite and contention of cutting-edge theatre. A superbly-realised, progressively directed show, Pygmalion ingeniously retells a story from the past with all the relevant consequences of the present.
West Yorkshire Playhouse: 4th February – 25th February 2017.
Read the full theatre review of Pygmalion at Entertainment Focus.
Set in 1931 Berlin, Cabaret tells the story of a vibrant city in full swing, revelling in unfettered sexual decadence. The political landscape, however, is rapidly darkening with an unimaginable threat from within...
Cabaret is an urgent, indelible musical which is purposefully shocking and peerlessly outrageous. Poignant and defiant in its final, chilling message, this is a must-see musical which has lost none of its fearless, iconic vivacity.
Leeds Grand Theatre: 24th – 28th October 2017.
Read the full theatre review of Cabaret at Leeds Grand Theatre at Entertainment Focus.
Exploring the impact and shockwave of the partition of India in 1947, this play by Nick Ahad was performed using traditional radio drama techniques with a live audience.
The story centres on a young couple of the present day, Saima and Ranjit, as they prepare for their wedding day in Leeds Town hall. Their love is absolute, however, a history of division exists between their ancestors; a 70-year-old rift between some Sikhs and Muslims, with wounds which remain profoundly raw for their parents. Can a brave new generation overcome the long, dark shadow of India’s partition?
The very best theatre educates as well as entertains and Partition triumphs, proudly, in both categories.
West Yorkshire Playhouse: 8th - 9th September 2017.
Read the full theatre review of Partition at Entertainment Focus.
6. Queen of Chapeltown
Set in a smoggy, grey and drizzly mid-century Leeds, a newly-forged community sets out to celebrate its proud heritage through calypso, colour and carnival. However, for that to take flight, they need to overcome social barriers and crown a carnival queen…
An important and urgent story about the origins of a very proud legacy of celebration, Queen of Chapeltown is an engaging, well-distilled study of the politics and pride behind the creation of the West Indian Carnival.
Uplifting, inspiring and full of vitality, this play proudly telegraphs that anything is possible when people come together with kindness, compassion and understanding.
West Yorkshire Playhouse: 13th - 15th September 2017.
Read the full theatre review of The Queen of Chapeltown at Entertainment Focus.
5. Reasons to be Cheerful
This anarchic musical is a collection of Ian Dury and The Blockheads’ punk-funk hits, featuring a cast of D/deaf and disabled artists.
Reintroducing a new generation to the music of a much-loved and talented agitator, Reasons to Be Cheerful is a relevant and prescient comment on today’s almost fractured society. Concluding with a rogue’s gallery of politics’ finest all-time crooks, accompanied by all-new Blockheads number, it’s hard to resist the urge to get out your seat and stomp your feet in rebellion.
This show is a deliciously vulgar, mischievous, boat-rocking protest of a musical which pays great testament to an unforgettable cultural icon.
West Yorkshire Playhouse: 10th – 14th October 2017.
Read the full theatre review of Reasons to be Cheerful at Entertainment Focus.
4. Pink Sari Revolution
When teenage girl Sheelu is believed to have been raped by an eminent politician, Sampat Pal campaigns to have the offender brought to justice. Despite the nature of the abuse, Pal encounters barriers to his conviction at almost every level, including an odd resistance from the victim herself…
A topical analysis on countering the abuse of power, Pink Sari Revolution is a complex and urgent study of human relationships and social responsibilities; prescient theatre which refuses to waver from its focus that an offender’s shame alone, is not near enough justice for the victim.
A remarkable story retold with vivid direction and indelible production values, this is a Technicolour protest offering startling depth in its analysis of an ongoing story, which is far from being concluded.
West Yorkshire Playhouse: 7th to 11th November 2017.
Read the full theatre review of Pink Sari Revolution at Entertainment Focus.
3. The Graduate
Mention The Graduate and the mind summons up a wealth of Sixties iconography. A satire on stagnant middle-income America, Charles Webb’s novel became a risqué hit as a movie fifty years ago. In 2017, the black comedy returned in a sharp stage adaptation by Terry Johnson.
The Graduate is a gritty, funny satire and it offers some laugh-out-loud moments, but at its core, it’s fundamentally a bleak drama with an ambiguous conclusion. The play offers a bold appraisal on the stagnant West Coast bourgeoisie of the Sixties, damning the insipid redundancy of its snowflake offspring.
Faithful to its period and continuously inventive in its direction, this is a slick and stylish recreation of an iconic movie and succeeds as a theatrical production in its own right. Sexy and sardonic, The Graduate is a boozy cocktail of comic drama punctuated with nail-biting awkwardness.
West Yorkshire Playhouse: 28th April – 27th May 2017.
Read the full theatre review of The Graduate at Entertainment Focus.
2. Barber Shop Chronicles
Set in numerous shops across the globe, including Johannesburg, Lagos and London, Inua Ellams’ compelling play inspects the peculiar confidence between barber and client; a unique relationship where small talk often evolves into grand, geopolitical debate.
The shops may be spread across different continents, but Ellams explores the threads, frustrations and old fables which recur as men turn up to have a trim and unburden their minds.
Played out through a single act of just over 90 minutes, Barber Shop Chronicles is short, sharp and a cut above your usual theatrical experience. A capsule of strong voices and vibrant identities, presented with an infectious energy, the play is a magnetic study of the unique relationship between client and barber; a safe space for discussion and confession, offering a relationship which is, evidently, much the same the world over.
West Yorkshire Playhouse: 12th - 29th July 2017.
Read the full theatre review of Barber Shop Chronicles at Entertainment Focus.
1. (The Fall of) The Master Builder
It's Northern England 2017 and architect Halvard Solness receives a prestigious Master Builder award for the design of a shopping centre. With the complex to be officially opened in a few day’s time, Solness is in high spirits until a young woman arrives to reveal a shocking secret from his past...
(The Fall of) The Master Builder is a daring, compelling and unfettered drama which will undoubtedly leave audiences shocked at its brutal conclusion. Disturbing, intense and unwaveringly relevant, this play examines the abuse of power and the wake of devastation it leaves behind.
A play which reaches the darkest depths, it’s a deeply troubling and psychologically chilling theatrical experience.
West Yorkshire Playhouse: 30th September - 21st October 2017.
Read the full theatre review of (The Fall of) The Master Builder at Entertainment Focus.
To read an interview with Director James Brining about (The Fall of) The Master Builder, click here.
Cue 2018 - The Next Stage
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