And just like that, 2018 is over. But what a year it’s been. Like many, we enjoy using the run-up to the new year to reflect on the 365 days gone by and look at the highs and lows. Luckily, in theatre, it was all highs! From massive show announcements to record-breaking award shows, star castings to kid-friendly pop-ups, 2018 has been an incredible year for theatre-lovers of all ages.
To celebrate all that’s happened, we’re taking a look back at the 10 most popular news stories of the year, plus a few of your favourite features. So if you think you missed anything this year, here’s the important stuff.
The Bible’s most famous fashion icon is set to make his musical return next summer as Andrew Lloyd Webber’s classic Joesph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is coming to the London Palladium in 2019. The news was announced on 30 November and people haven’t stopped talking about it since.
The world and I, we are still waiting (ah-ah-ahhh) for details including cast information, but for now, any Joseph dream will do!
A rap musical set in the 1700s telling the story of an unlikeable genius who was a major player in the American Revolution and a Founding Father may not sound like the most likely candidate to sweep the West End, but Lin-Manuel Miranda’s epic and genre-changing Hamilton won the hearts of theatre fans across the country. Not only was it hard to find a ticket to the global phenomenon, but it was hard to beat at the Olivier Awards, too.
This year, Hamilton broke all previous records when it was nominated for a whopping 13 awards. On the night, it won a respectable seven Oliviers which ties it with Matilda The Musical for most Olivier Awards won by a musical. You can see the full list of winners, here.
London spent the summer getting to know Kelli O’Hara and Ken Watanabe as they played the much-loved duo Anna and The King. The Tony-winning show transferred to the London Palladium for a strictly limited run, and to help the rest of the world become more familiar with the Roger and Hammerstein classic, The King And I was screened in cinemas for one night only.
The London Palladium run and the cinema screenings were so successful, it wasn’t long until a UK tour was announced.
In July, Delfont Mackintosh Theatres announced that it will be implementing restorative work on many of its theatres. As part of the renovations – which will take three years to complete across all venues – Queen’s Theatre will be closing its doors in 2019/20 so it can have a major backstage renovation, plus further refurbishments. This means London’s longest-running musical will have to find a temporary home while work is being done. The relocation has yet to be announced but at the end of the day, it’ll be magnificent wherever it is.
A tongue-in-cheek video was released in September showing Louise Redknapp, Amber Davies, Natalie McQueen and Brian Conley prepping for their roles in the upcoming show. And though Dolly herself won’t star on stage, she features in the video, too.
During the summer, Disney proved that there’s more to theatre than a velvet curtain and fold-down chair when news of its pop-up sent the internet wild. For the month of August, Covent Garden saw an Aladdin and The Lion King pop-up which allowed visitors see costumes and props up close, as well as giving patrons access to live demos, workshops and performances.
All good things come in threes… and the third big show announcement for 2019 came in the perfectly formed Mary Poppins. In September, it was announced that Zizi Strallen and Charlie Stemp will tread the boards at The Prince Edward Theatre when the magical show makes its long-awaited comeback in autumn 2019.
It seems we’re in a new age of theatre-watching as another stagey cinema screening made it into our top 10 news stories of the year. The Olivier-nominated show was screened at cinemas across the UK in July meaning people far and wide could witness the touching and empowering tale of Jamie New. The screenings were pre-empted by the news that there will be a major film adaptation of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie in May.
You know we said that good things come in threes? Well, we lied. They just keep on coming. Another big show announcement for 2019 came in October when news broke that Dear Evan Hansen will be coming to the Noël Coward Theatre in the autumn.
The annual panto at the London Palladium has become quite the festive tradition. And this year, it’s gone above and beyond. In May it was announced that Dawn French will be joining Julian Clary, Paul Zerdin, and Nigel Havers in Snow White for this year’s instalment. Since, additional castmates including Danielle Hope and Charlie Stemp were announced and the show has opened to high praise from all.
In addition to big news, we also had some big features. Here are our top three from the year.
As you can tell from our top stories of the year, there are some brilliant new shows coming to London next year. So we put together a list of 10 new musicals opening in 2019! Here are the shows we’re super excited about and that you can book right
With so many new shows coming to London, we sadly have to bid farewell to some of our favourites. You still have a few days to catch these giant shows before they leave the West End, so check them out, now!
Valentine’s Day is just six weeks away! Before you run for the hills, make sure you hit up this Spotify playlist which contains the perfect soundtrack to fit your anti-Valentine’s Day needs.
Like every year, Official London Theatre hosted the Olivier Awards, West End LIVE, Kids Week, and the New Years Sale. And we can’t wait to host them again for 2019. So we say good riddance 2018. Hello, a very exciting and theatrical 2019.