What a decade it has been. Even theatre has changed massively. Technological advancements, and social liberalisation, have lead to some very important theatre pieces. Theatre has modernised both technologically and culturally.
As this issue of The Mancunion is the final one of the decade, we have decided to celebrate the 2010s. I asked my writers to choose their favourite shows of the decade – perhaps one of the toughest things I’ve ever asked of them!
I’m torn. Both have elaborate sets, detailed costumes, and groovy musical numbers. They are nostalgic, with the former taking you back to your childhood, and the latter reminding you of many of the past few decade’s best songs (all written by Max Martin). I love Aladdin, in particular, because it revolves around people who actually look like me, although the orientalism is problematic. Meanwhile, & Juliet is overtly supportive of progressive issues. They’re both visual spectacles, and along with Miss Saigon (the problematic but fantastic musical based upon Madama Butterfly) make up my musical triad!
I saw this show in London a few years ago and went in with very low expectations, but it ended up being the funniest show I’ve ever seen. Ridiculous, silly and an absolute masterclass in physical comedy.
This show ran briefly on Broadway from 2016 to 2017. I never got the chance to see it and am waiting on the day it comes to the UK. It is an immersive electro-pop musical based on War and Peace with a steampunk costume style. Every clip I watch is so high energy, and I would just love to be in the audience. The lighting design is beautiful, and the lyrics leave me feeling so hopeful. It deserved much better, and I hope it gets remembered down the line.
Without a doubt. The idea of a hip hop operetta about America’s founding fathers sounds insane, and yet, somehow, it works perfectly. I love that, in the words of creator Lin Manuel Miranda, it’s a “story of America then told by America now“, which is clearly reflected by the diverse cast. It has smart and witty lyrics, show-stopping tunes, and rap battles to represent cabinet discussions. Hamilton changed how history is taught in the US, allowed Hamilton to remain on the 10 dollar bill, and revolutionised Broadway and the world.
This show takes place Tuesdays at Albert’s Schloss. A flamboyant live performance featuring a diverse group of performers, Kunst Kabaret is unlike anything that I have seen before, and it is a show that I will remember for a long time.
Bayse Genc – Aladdin
I saw this show in London in 2017, and it was such an enchanting and magical show. I still gush to all my friends in bewilderment about how it ‘actually looked like they were flying on the magic carpet!’. The production was absolutely breathtaking, the actors were phenomenal, and there wasn’t a single moment without exhilaration and delight – it will be missed!
Carly Nutall – Kinky Boots
I loved this show because it’s so feel-good. Throughout the duration of it, I found myself with a constant smile on my face, and I left feeling so positive and uplifted. It’s one that can appeal to all ages and really captures the importance of embracing differences when we cross paths in life with people who maybe have different interests and passions. Just an overall heartwarming and fabulously sassy show!
Evie Appleson – SIX
This pop concert musical is about Henry VIII’s six wives. It combined witty and intelligent lyrics with sharp feminist commentary. A modern masterpiece!
Georgina Davidson – Matthew Bourne’s The Red Shoes
An easy decision. Based on the stunning yet equally disturbing fairytale by danish poet and author Hans Christian Andersen, the ballet performance is a sight of decadence and devilishly grand choreography by Matthew Bourne. Highlights include several technically co-ordinated group sections and a huge train set piece that brings the piece to a dramatic finale. A masterpiece no less, that Andersen would no doubt marvel at.
Kayleigh Crawford – Fat Blokes
I saw this show at HOME in 2019. Fat Blokes used a combination of monologues and interpretive dance to tell the stories of five men and their daily fight to exist unapologetically in larger bodies. Written by working-class artist Scottee, Fat Blokes fundamentally changed my understanding of what theatre could be, and what it could do.
Lily Rosenberg – The Book of Mormon, Hamilton, Kinky Boots AND Waitress
Book of Mormon: making religion funny while also having ads in the playbill saying: “You’ve seen it! Now read it!”
Hamilton: making the world realise that rap and American history belong together. Kinky boots: drag queens, fabulous shoes, and Cindy Lauper wrote the music. It is a show that you always leaving smiling. Waitress: Sara Bareilles wrote a musical; the theatre smells like pie – what more could you want?
Patience Kanjira – Things I Know to be True
I saw this Frantic Assembly show at Warwick Art Centre. It was so visually moving, that all the choreographed moments just worked in the world they had created, and that seemed to be more sincere than my own perceived notion of reality.
Rosemary Russett – The Wild Bride
This musical folktale was performed by Kneehigh. It has a real rustic feel to it with the musicians and actors seamlessly creating a fairy tale world in the traditional dark sense of the word. The story and acting has stuck with me, and I would definitely see it again!
Urussa Malik – The Little Prince
This show had a three day-run in Dubrovnik, Croatia. The live orchestra, coupled with the three actors who played six characters between them, made for such an intimate and precious show. That, and how the theatre space/stage was an abandoned castle, showed me how brilliantly this production utilised space, sound and actors, creating such a wonderful show.