Fredo's Theatre Group 
 
 
 
We’re Still Here 
Our report on 2017 in the Theatre 
 
It was always going to be a good year: a new Matthew Bourne ballet, the opening of hit shows from Broadway – School of Rock, An American in Paris and at long last, Dreamgirls, appearances by Andrew Scott,  Ruth Wilson, Damian Lewis and Jude Law, and a long-awaited revival of my favourite musical of all time, Follies. This was the year when London theatre just kept on giving. 
 
Was it just me? Did anyone else notice how much more politically aware the theatrical scene appeared to be in 2017? Even light-hearted musicals such as 42nd Street and An American in Paris emphasised their roots in the depression, and the traumas of wartime France. 
 
While politicians of every persuasion assured us “I am very clear about this” when they clearly hadn’t a clue, it was left to dramatists such as James Graham in This House, Steve Waters in Limehouse and JosieRourke and Hadley Fraser in Committee to provide an analysis of how politics works.  
 
The busy Mr Graham went on to dissect the recent evolution of the Labour party in Labour of Love and to demonstrate how the popular press developed and shaped public opinion in Ink. In moments of despair at the progress of national politics, I consoled myself by looking forward to James Graham’s play on the subject of perhaps Brexit in a few years time.  
 
Who was Best Playwright of the Year? Was it Mr Graham; and were one of his plays Best Play of the Year? The Ferryman by Jez Butterworth was remarkable in scale and ambition and has featured on many critics' Top Ten Plays of the Year lists. Richard Bean and Clive Coleman (responsible for the popular One Man, Two Guvnors of a few years ago) were given the honour of opening the new Bridge Theatre with Young Marx, but that was not quite up to their previous hit despite Rory Kinnear working hard at being Socialist. 
 
At the Old Vic, Rufus Sewell, Paul Ritter and Tim Key wrung every note of humour and pathos out of Art, and Joshua McGuire and Daniel Radcliffe held their own against the barn-storming David Haig in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. Elsewhere, David Tennant dazzled in Don Juan in Soho and Judith Roddy and Christian Cooke brought a searing intensity to Knives in Hens. 
 
You just can't beat old-fashioned star-quality and Tamsin Greig and Martin Freeman showed that even a terrific play like Labour of Love can be elevated by the chemistry between the actors. A completely different type of acting-lesson was given in the tense cat and mouse scene between Colin Morgan and Kae Alexander in the second act of Gloria: I was on the edge of my seat. 
 
I enjoy giving background to the shows we see, but this year I took a mischievous delight in withholding information about both The Goat and Gloria. Our group was able to experience the anger and pain of Sophie Okenedo and Damian Lewis in The Goat without my intervention, and I enjoyed the explosive reaction at the shocking developments in Gloria. 
 
We welcomed visiting American stars Cherry Jones in The Glass Menagerie, and Audra McDonald who was transfixing as BillieHoliday in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill. 
 
Matthew Bourne didn’t disappoint with the dizzingly romantic and moody The Red Shoes, while the Royal Ballet was breath-taking in Mayerling and Jewels. There were dozens more dancing feet in 42nd Street, bringing tap-dancing joy time after time at Drury Lane – we took four groups there, and five groups to the ballet inspired An American in Paris with its free-flowing graphic designs matching the fluidity of the dance. 
 
Moments to remember? The shocking end of the first act of Gloria; the “What if?” moment at the end of Limehouse; the abrupt departure of the politicians at the end of Committee, leaving endless unfinished business; the delightful Samantha Bond and Alexander Hanson joining us for a chat after The Lie; Anne-Marie Duff wondering how many Christmases we’ve got left in Heisenberg. 
 
The best theatrical present I had this year was the National Theatre’s production of Follies. Expectations were high; there was a lot to live up to – and they pulled it off. My absolute favourite moment of the year? – the arrival of those once-Beautiful Girls at Weissman’s reunion. I was crying already! 
 
Our thanks are due as always to Cook’s Coaches and their drivers, and to our helpful friends at the Donmar, Delfont Mackintosh, ATG, the Royal Opera House and Hampstead Theatre. And to our loyal patrons. We offered you 65 shows spread over 70 visits to the theatre. We hope you had a good time – we certainly did. 
 
What were your highlights of the year? Let us know! There is a list to remind you below, and further pictorial reminders is you click HERE
 
Happy Theatre-going in 2018! 
 
Fredo 
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Email us with your Best of 2017 list - just fill in the form below. 
 
My Personal Favourites: 
Best Play
 
Best Actress
 
Best Actor
 
Best Supporting Actor
 
Best Supporting Actress
 
Best Director
 
Best Designer
 
Best Musical
 
Best Musical Revival
 
Miscellaneous (something that really pleased you – a complete performance, or a scene, or just a moment)
 
 
Shows in the Year 2017 
The Nutcracker 
The Red Shoes 
Dreamgirls  
Wild Honey 
Art 
Il Trovatore 
Half a Sixpence 
The Kite Runner 
Death Takes a Holiday 
This House 
Hedda Gabler 
She Loves Me 
Saint Joan 
School of Rock 
The Sleeping Beauty 
The Glass Menagerie 
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead 
The Girls 
Don Juan in Soho 
The Human Seasons/After the Rain/Flight Path 
An American in Paris 
The Goat 
Matthew Bourne’s Early Adventures 
Limehouse 
Jewels 
Madama Butterfly 
Love in Idleness 
Obsession 
Mayerling 
The Exterminating Angel 
The Braille Legacy 
42nd Street 
Casanova 
The Ferryman 
Lettice and Lovage 
The Dream/Symphonic Variations/Marguerite and Armand 
Smiles of a Summer Night 
The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui 
Gloria 
The Mentor 
The Wind in the Willows 
Hamlet 
Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill 
Tanguera 
Committee 
Queen Anne 
Road 
Knives in Hens 
Evita 
Labour of Love 
Prism 
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland 
South Pacific 
Follies 
Young Frankenstein 
Young Marx 
The Slaves of Solitude 
The Lie 
Ink 
Lucia di Lammermoor 
The Lady from the Sea 
Heisenberg: The Uncertainty Principle 
Sylvia 
A Woman of No Importance 
The Chimes  
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