In 2014 I managed to go and see 15 musicals and plays on stage in both the North East (Sunderland Empire or Theatre Newcastle) as well as trips to London to see them in the West End. I also caught Monty Python and a concert of Elaine Paige. It has been an incredible year for going to see plenty of shows and live acting. I honestly didn’t realise I had seen so many until getting ready to do this blog post.
Along with seeing an absolute icon in Elaine Paige in her farewell concert, I also managed a last-minute trip to see the legend of Angela Lansbury on her return to the West End after 30 years in Blithe Spirit. But it doesn’t stop there, I got to meet one of my favourite actors Bill Nighy after the incredible Skylight and an added bonus of Carey Mulligan! What a day that was.
January started with seeing the UK Tour of Singin’ in the Rain at the Sunderland Empire. A warning of the tickets that if you are in front few rows you will get wet with the water, that was correct. We got rather soaked at the end, but that was all the part of the fun. They use a lot of water during the show which is fantastic to watch. This one was a bit different as I had never seen the film before seeing the show. You can read the full review here.
February was the first trip of the year to London and my third time of seeing my all time favourite show Wicked at the Victoria Apollo Theatre. This one was my favourite Elphaba yet, she really was unreal. Such a shame an injury stopped her West End engagement but had played the part in three different languages what a talent. You can read the full review here.
March to complete the weekend in London we also managed to get tickets to see Billy Elliot at the Victoria Palace Theatre. This was a brilliant experience being from the North East and that is where the show is set, complete with the accents and everything. I have also just released I never wrote a review for this one, so much apologise for not getting it up on the blog.
May was a month with two shows. The first was a brand new show about the life of T Rex leading man Marc Bolan, a band I have always been a big fan of so 20th Century Boy at the Sunderland Empire was a massive highlight this year. I really hope it gets a transfer to the West End as it was a brilliant show with so many of my favourite songs, it had hardcore T Rex fans following the show around on it’s tour. You can read the full review here. The second show I caught this month was a play in the West End, Blithe Spirt at the Gielgud Theatre. The special thing about this was that I really wanted to see Dame Angela Lansbury so much that I done the trip for the Wednesday afternoon matinée in one day. An early train in the morning and then train back. It cost a lot of money but was totally worth it, especially when I got to see Dame Angela heading into the theatre before the performance. It was such a thrill and an honour to see her on the stage, the applause as she first appeared was amazing and the standing ovation at the end was unreal. It meant to much to see her, honestly I still cannot quite believe it. You can read the full review here.
June was another month of two shows, which were actually booked at the last-minute with good deals from ATG Theatre (yes I am a member and card holder for discounts). The first was Annie Get Your Gun on it’s UK Tour at the Sunderland Empire and I am so pleased we got tickets. Emma Williams took on the role of Annie and she was truly incredible, watch out for her in other shows coming up. You can read the full review here. The second was the most recent UK Tour of Evita also at the Sunderland Empire. I had heard a lot of good things about this updated version of the show and it was certainly better than the last time I saw it in 2009. It transferred back onto the West End at the end of the tour, but wasn’t massively well received. We actually had Michelle Pentecost as Eva Peron and I didn’t even realise she was the alternate Eva she was amazing. You can read the full review here.
July was my best month this year for shows fitting in an incredible four, another weekend down in London. Honestly I cannot go to London for a weekend and only catch one show, it’s just not possible at all. Got to fit in as many as possible. The first of that weekend was the play Skylight a the Wyndham’s Theatre, starring Bill Nighy and Carey Mulligan in her West End debut. The play was emotional and engaging from start to finish. You can read the full review here. Then the added bonus of meeting both Bill Nighy and Carey Mulligan at the stage door after the show. Best moment of my year! It was a very busy day as that evening I then headed across to The O2 Arena for Monty Python Live (Mostly) another show full of legends and fantastic to be able to say that I have seen them live. I probably should have watched more of the box set I have before seeing this to catch up but never mind it was still a very good experience. You can read the full review here. The next two shows I caught back in the North East were UK Tour’s of shows I have seen before. The first Cats was a continuation from the 2013 tour I caught in Sunderland, this time at the Theatre Royal and some of the cast had changed and I must admit it wasn’t as good as last year. You can read the full review here. The next was Avenue Q at the Sunderland Empire was some last-minute tickets, which again were on a very good deal. I hadn’t seen this show since it’s run with the original cast in the West End. So throughly enjoyed seeing it again, it still certainly remains the funniest show I have ever seen, with some very catchy songs and a good story to go along with it. You can read the full review here.
August only had one show after a very busy July, mainly because we don’t seem to get as many shows during the summer months. But the fact it was Rock of Ages at the Sunderland Empire made up for it. I love Rock music it is probably my favourite genre, which may sound a little strange when I absolutely love musical theatre. So a combination of rock music as a stage show, I was always going to enjoy it. I liked the film but the stage show is so much better. You can read the full review here.
September saw another trip down to London and fitting in plenty of shows. The main reason we made the trip to London was to see the revival of Miss Saigon a show that had not been seen in London or on tour for many years. The only problem we had been that we had the third choice Kim and that wasn’t as good as what we had heard of the actual Kim. But we still enjoyed it, having wanted to see it so much. You can read the full review here. The following night we went for something completely different with Forbidden Broadway at the Vaudeville Theatre. A show which lovingly rips all of the big hits to shreds, along with some of the stars as well. You will laugh from start to finish, but also appreciate how clever it all is as well. You can read the full review here.
October was still part of the trip down to London and we went to see Wicked at the Victoria Apollo Theatre, yes my second time this year and fourth overall. But we wanted to do this because Kerry Ellis was back as Elphaba and we wanted to be able to say we had seen her in this role. You can read the full review here. That was not the end of this month for me as I eventually after years of wanting to see her live got to see Elaine Paige in her farewell and celebration tour at The Sage in Gateshead. It was an amazing night and see really still has it, belting out some of the songs which she made famous and vice versa. It was a lovely night at an incredible venue, thank you Ms Paige for the memories. You can read the full review here.
November worked out as my final show for the year, as we went to the closing night of The Lion King on its first ever UK Tour at Sunderland Empire. It had a record-breaking six-week stint and it was actually really difficult to have to wait until the closing night after so many people had already been to see the show. It is probably the most expensive a UK tour has ever been in Sunderland but it sure is an incredible experience of a show and after seeing it I can understand why it had a long stay. Believe it or not it was the first time I had see The Lion King on stage as well, I had just never got round to seeing it but it is now crossed off my list of shows to see. You can read the full review here.
December we don’t get many touring shows at all due to Pantomime season so didn’t manage to get any shows in this month unfortunately!
So I have had a very action packed year a the Theatre and hope that I can get to plenty of shows in 2015. I have tickets for three shows so far but I am sure with some good deals I will get to many more and sort tickets out. I am sure a trip or two to London will be sorted out as well, especially the fact Gypsy has been announced as returning to the West End I have always wanted to see that show on the stage. Let’s hope that this time next year I will be doing a very similar blog post with some fantastic experiences of going to the theatre, catching both on the West End stage and touring shows at the Sunderland Empire and Theatre Royal. 2014 really has been a brilliant year, I mean I met Bill Nighy!!!