Top Ten Shows I Saw in 2018

I can't believe that I saw eighty-three shows this past year. Six of those were in New York, one was a US tour (Bright Star!), and seventy-six were in London. I saw a lot of them through being a reviewer for BroadwayWorld UK and took advantage of London's inexpensive deals for many of the others. I wanted to share my top ten and while it was super hard to pick, I finally narrowed it down to five musicals and five plays.

I didn't include things that I'd seen the same production of in 2017 like some of my all-time favorites The Woman in White, Les Miserables, or Kinky Boots. Without further ado, in no particular order, here are my top ten shows of 2018!

The Grinning Man - Review, Video
If I had to pick a show to be number one on this list, I would likely pick The Grinning Man if for no other reason than that I saw it a crazy six times. This musical based on the Victor Hugo novel, The Man Who Laughs, is a blend of Great Comet, Phantom of the Opera, and War Horse. I don't think I've fallen in love with a show so swiftly and so completely since I first fell in love with Les Mis as a teenager. From its insanely talented cast to the impeccable design to the atmosphere like no other I've ever witnessed, this show truly took me on a journey and was exactly what I needed it to be. (Now can I get a Broadway production, please?)

Red - Review
Who knew that a 90 minute play could pack such a punch? This astounding revival directed by Michael Grandage saw Alfred Molina return to the role of Mark Rothko with Alfred Enoch as his assistant. It made me reconsider some of my thoughts on the purpose of art and what art truly means. The moment in which they paint the canvas (those who saw it will know exactly what I mean) was one of the most thrilling things I witnessed in a theatre the whole year.

Heathers - Review, Video
In 2018, I was lucky enough to see cult favorite Heathers both at The Other Palace and at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. It was the last show that I saw before moving back to the States and I couldn't have picked a better one. Not only is it both hilarious and very touching, but getting to see Carrie Hope Fletcher in the role of Veronica was like a dream come true. Seeing Carrie, a woman with a similar body type to my own, shown as sexy onstage did wonderful things for my self-confidence.

The York Realist
While my first show while working at the Donmar Warehouse was Belleville, The York Realist was the first that I felt a part of. Now only was I around the cast while they were rehearsing in the building, but I got to attend the first preview and the press night. The York Realist is a beautiful LGBT romance and the performances by Ben Batt and Jonathan Bailey will likely stay with me for the rest of my life. (The development team were so lovely and gave me a poster signed by the cast when I left and it's now proudly hanging on the wall of my room here in New York!)

Broken Wings - Review
I fell head over heels with this new musical about the life of Lebanese poet Kahlil Gibran by Nadim Naaman and Dana Al Fardan. I loved the concept album but after interviewing Nadim, I couldn't wait for its short run at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. And it actually exceeded my expectations! I was so happy that it's one of the shows that my family saw together when they visited. We need more diverse stories onstage, in addition to diverse casting, and something like Broken Wings is an amazing example of Middle Eastern representation.

Emilia
Emilia was one of those plays where you feel like you've had an experience by the end, if you know what I mean. It's more than a show somehow. On the surface, it's a play about a female writer who was a contemporary of Shakespeare, performed by a diverse company of women at the Globe. But somehow, it deals with so many ways that women are both oppressed and uplifted. Not only was I crying by the end, but my friend Kimmy who I'd never seen cry before was shedding tears. I'm so excited that it's getting a West End transfer in 2019.

Titanic (UK Tour) - Video
I've loved Titanic since I first saw it performed at my college, Elon University, but getting to see the UK tour production was such a treat. It's a gorgeous show with soaring music by Maury Yeston and I think something special to say about the human condition as illuminated by a tragedy one night in April of 1912. The tour cast was absolutely outstanding and it was so lovely to get to see Niall Sheehy as Barrett after having missed him when he played the role before.

Lieutenant of Inishmore - Review
I rarely fall head over heels for a comedy so it makes sense that the only one featured on this list is a dark comedy about Irish terrorism. I ended up seeing The Lieutenant of Inishmore three times and I can't remember a time I ever laughed so much in a theatre. Aidan Turner was absolutely stunning as the lead and I wanted to move right into the set. I hope this gets revived on Broadway in the next few years as I think it's such a great show.

The Ferryman (Broadway)
The first of the two Broadway shows that I've included on this list is the recent West End transfer of The Ferryman. This is actually kind of cheating because The Ferryman made my 2017 list for its West End production, but I couldn't leave it out because it's the best play I've ever seen on Broadway. This Irish drama is both a family story and a political one and though I've seen it three times now, it still feels fresh and exciting. The cast currently on Broadway are absolutely incredible and I look forward to this hopefully sweeping the 2019 Tony Awards.

Anastasia (Broadway) - Review
Anastasia was one of my favorite films growing up. It was the first movie I ever saw in the theatre and Dmitri was probably my first crush. So I had high expectations for this show, especially after how much I loved the cast album, and it didn't disappoint in the slightest. I love the changes that were made to the original movie to bring it closer to the historic truth of what occurred (it thrills my history-major heart) and the cast is really something special. Christy Altomare, in particular, is everything that you could ever want from the woman playing Anya.

What were your favorite shows that you saw in 2018? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter. x

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