From Kinky Boots’ dazzling arrival to the unforgettable Gypsy, theatre blogger West End Wilma shares her favourite theatrical moments of 2015.
1. Seeing Elphaba not defy gravity in Wicked
I’ve seen Wicked around 40 times over the years (I’m not ashamed to admit it) and one thing any true fan of the show will say, is that they have always wanted to be at a ‘no fly’ show. If you’ve not seen Wicked before, there is a moment where Elphaba flies up in the air during the iconic Defying Gravity. It is a real spectacle but on the odd occasion, due to technical difficulties, the trick is not possible and she has to sing the song on the ground. No big deal really but when you’ve seen the show so many times it is one of those ticks in the box if you manage to see it happen (…or not happen).
2. West End Wilma Awards
Of course one of my theatrical highlights from 2015 has to be the Wilma Awards which took place on 30 October at the Hippodrome Casino in Leicester Square. It was a wonderful day and a very stagey affair with Beverley Knight, Jon Jon Briones, Eva Noblezada and many more stars there to collect awards. It took a huge amount of hard work to put together but worth every moment. I am already excited for the 2016 awards!
3. Olivier Awards
I walked the red carpet of the Olivier Awards next to Angela Lansbury, which was a moment I will never forget. She got a well-deserved standing ovation when she won her award and the whole evening was fabulous. Fingers crossed I might get to experience it again in 2016 (if I’m lucky).
— West End Wilma (@westendwilma) April 12, 2015
4. Edinburgh Festival Fringe
This year I went to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe for the first time! I was only there for a few days but crammed in as many shows as I possibly could. It was a little overwhelming at first but after I got used to how incredibly busy it was everywhere I settled in and had a wonderful time. It really felt like a beautiful community where the performers mixed in with the audiences, drinking in the same bars, and everyone was there for the same reason, to share their love of theatre and comedy. I will definitely be heading back up there next year for a longer stay.
5. Kinky Boots
I’ve tried not to include too many theatre shows in this round-up because it’s supposed to be more about ‘theatrical moments’ and not just newly opened shows. However I think Kinky Boots deserves a mention because it’s so great! I saw the show on Broadway earlier this year and really didn’t fall in love with it because the English accents were so laughable. The new West End production is incredible though and I’ve been back to see it three times already! It’s the most fun show the West End has seen since Priscilla Queen of the Desert with amazing songs by Cyndi Lauper. If you haven’t seen it already, make sure you check it out.
6. Being immortalised as a FaBi DaBi Doll!
The wonderful people that make stagey peg dolls of theatre characters made one very special doll of me and sent it to me this year. It’s one of my treasured possessions and I love it. It’s got a glass of wine and cigarette (so me!). They’re so great, I bought three others recently at a charity Christmas fayre (not ones of me!). I can’t urge you enough to check them out, via Etsy.
I try to get to New York at least every other year to check out the latest shows on Broadway. Back in February I saw eight shows in six days, which was pretty hardcore but so much fun! I saw Kinky Boots, Chicago, Wicked, Les Misérables, Cabaret, Constellations and more, as well as hanging out in my favourite stagey piano bar and eating at the Olive Garden as often as I could. I’m not sure if I’ll make it over there next year (unless someone would like to buy me the plane ticket…) but I’ll be back there as soon as I can!
If you didn’t see it then you missed out; Gypsy was a real theatrical highlight for so many this year and people haven’t stopped talking about Imelda Staunton’s wonderful performance as Momma Rose. The show was voted Best West End Show at this years Wilma Awards and actress Julie LeGrand paid homage to Imelda in her acceptance speech. One of the performances was filmed for BBC4!
9. Idina Menzel’s New Years Eve performance
Okay, so technically this was in 2014 but it was New Year’s Eve and the majority of the online chatter about it was the next day but Idina Menzel did let the cold bother her when she sang the Frozen hit song Let It Go in the middle of Times Square. Her vocals were… interesting and at the end of the song it actually sounded like her throat was ripping. On social media the world shared the video and were less than favourable about the performance. Idina fought back by posting an article with the quote from her saying that so long as she hits 75% of the notes, she feels like she has done a good job. This then created even more of a backlash with fans saying that she shouldn’t admit to being content giving half-hearted performances.
10. Patti Lupone lashes out at audience members (again)
Broadway legend Patti Lupone has been known to have her run-ins with audience members when performing on stage if they don’t behave properly. Famously, back in 2008, during a performance of Gypsy, she stopped midway through the finale number Rose’s Turn to scream at an audience member who was taking pictures – she had them removed from the theatre! Patti seems to have calmed down a little since then but this summer, during a performance of Shows For Days, she reportedly walked out into the audience, took a mobile phone out of texting hands and walked back on stage with it confiscated (whilst not breaking character or stopping the show). I assume the person got it back at the end of the show!