Top 5 Show of 2016 

1 Sunny Afternoon

Our favourite show from this year is Sunny Afternoon, a musical telling the story and featuring the music of one of Britain’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll bands, The Kinks. Sunny Afternoon unfortunately closed in the West End on 29th October but is currently on UK tour.

2 Jesus Christ Superstar

Coming in second is the production of Jesus Christ Superstar which played at the Open Air Theatre in the summer. Choreographed by Drew McOnie, it was a spectacular and magical production of Webber and Rice’s controversial masterpiece. Due to popular demand, Jesus Christ Superstar will be returning to the Open Air Theatre next summer from 11th August – 16th September.
3 School of Rock

One of London’s newest musicals, the eagerly anticipated School of Rock was awesome, with catchy songs, and a great display of budding youth talent. School of Rock is showing at the New London Theatre, currently booking until 9th April.
4 Miss Atomic Bomb

Miss Atomic Bomb is the crazy story of a country trailer girl, a posh fashion guru, an army runaway, an unfortunate hotel manager, a beauty contest and the testing of an atom bomb. It was a fresh and exciting production shown at the St James Theatre created by Gabriel Vick, Alex Jackson-Long and Adam Long and we hope to see it again soon.
5 Guys and Dolls

This year’s production of Guys and Dolls, which originally opened at the Savoy Theatre and closed at the Phoenix Theatre in August, featured many stars of the TV and theatre world including: Rebel Wilson, Sophie Thompson, Simon Lipkin, Oliver Tompsett, Jamie Parker, and many more. It is a fantastic production of an old-school swing-style show.


Jest End – Waterloo East Theatre

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Jest End is a musical by Garry Lake satirising and parodying some of the West End’s most popular shows. It has been labelled as the West End’s answer to Forbidden Broadway (written by Gerald Alessandrini). It generally runs for a few weeks just prior to Christmas each year, and this time, Jest End takes on Jersey Boys, Jesus Christ Superstar, School of Rock, and Hamilton, to name just a few.

This year’s cast are Jemma Alexander (The Great American Trailer Park Musical, Wicked, Rent), Adam Bailey (Edges, Pricilla Queen of the Desert, Starlight Express), Bronté Barbé (Shrek, Cool Rider – The Grease 2, Hairspray) and Daniel Buckley (Sweeney Todd, Eugenius, Christie in Love), all four of whom are wonderful, talented singers and have great comic timing.

Some of the show’s musical numbers were recycled from last year, including: ‘Girls All Over Me’ in the Billy Elliot section; ‘I Am Barrowman’; ‘Part Time Christine’, a parody of the actress who plays alternate Christine Daae in Phantom of the Opera; and the Les Miserables section with ‘Stare’, ‘C***frontation’, ‘I’m So Old’ and ‘One Year More’. It would be nice to see some of these replaced with some new material, especially for Jest End devotees who return every year, but nonetheless, the show had plenty of new, current and energetic numbers.

Three shows which are closing soon were particularly memorable highlights of the show: the ‘Jersey Boys Medley’ was fabulous, particularly with Bronte Barbe’s vocals as Frankie Valli; the ‘In The Heights Medley’ was another highlight; and ‘They’re Not Taking Me’ was a wonderful parody of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’s imminent departure from the West End and arrival on Broadway, performed by Daniel Buckley as Jonathan Slinger.

Some other new songs for this year satirised some of the West End’s newest arrivals and soon to be arriving musicals. Tyrone Huntley’s show-stealing performance as Judas in the summer run of Jesus Christ Superstar at the Open Air Theatre and Drew McOnie’s famously unusual yet genius choreography was fantastically parodied with ‘Olivier On His Mind’. Newly opened on the West End, a revised version of School of Rock’s ‘Stick It To The Man’, called ‘Unhappy Leading Man’, was brilliantly performed by Daniel Buckley. ‘A Million Reasons To Hate This’ (a version of Take That’s A Million Love Songs) by Adam Bailey as a mockery of Gary Barlow’s upcoming musical, The Girls, and its casting was hilarious.

As well as individual shows, Jest End also levels some general criticism at the current theatre landscape: celebrities and TV stars being cast in leading roles (Sarah Harding’s trials on the Ghost UK tour were hysterically satirised by Jemma Alexander’s caricature) ; low actors’ wages; and soaring ticket prices (‘Gotta Get A Ticket’ (a returning number)).

Overall, Jest End is a fabulous, witty, wickedly sharp show – it is a true theatre fan’s stagey heaven. Jest End is showing at the Waterloo East Theatre until 18th December and we can’t wait to see it back next year for another run!


The Comedy About A Bank Robbery – Criterion Theatre

The Comedy About A Bank Robbery is a farcical play from the Mischief Theatre Group, written by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields, and it made its world premiere on 31st March 2016 in the West End’s Criterion Theatre.

It is set in Minneapolis, a town where everyone is a crook and the new interstate highway is causing crime rates to soar even further. The story follows one giant diamond belonging to Prince Ludvig of Hungary, which being kept in a bank with poor security and there are seven people trying to steal it.

Our crooks are: Caprice Freeboys, the criminally manipulative and flirtatious gold-digger and bank manager’s daughter; Mitch Ruscitti, the escaped prisoner on the run from the law, boyfriend of Caprice and mastermind of the operation; Sam Monaghan, Caprice’s love interest and the “innocent” pick-pocket who is involuntarily roped into the robbery; Neil Cooper, the show-tunes loving and amateur dramatics enthusiast; Robin Freeboys, the bank manager with a reputation for robbing everyone and a sketchy personal life involving sex therapists and indecent oil paintings; Officer Randal Shuck, the love-struck officer who entrusts the diamond to Freeboys’ bank; and Ruth Monaghan, Sam’s mother and bank worker whose favourite phrase is “everyone in this town is a crook”. Innocent bystanders in the plot are: Warren Slax, a long-serving intern at the bank and one of the unfortunate men under Caprice’s spell; and Freeboys’ nephew, the sleeping-on-the-job security guard.

Charlie Russell (Lights! Camera! Improvise!, The Play That Goes Wrong, Peter Pan Goes Wrong) gives a standout performance as Caprice. The three writers of the play, (Henry Shields (writer, The Play That Goes Wrong, Peter Pan Goes Wrong, The Nativity Goes Wrong), Jonathan Sayer (writer, The Play That Goes Wrong, Peter Pan Goes Wrong) and Henry Lewis (writer, The Play That Goes Wrong, Peter Pan Goes Wrong)) are all fantastic starring in their own creation as Mitch, Warren and Robin.

The play’s comic essence includes wordplay, physical comedy and much more. There are countless misunderstandings resulting from the misinterpretation of words – for example “Robin Freeboys” is heard as “robbing three boys” and “Neil” being mistaken for “kneel”. There are scenes involving beds popping up and down and crooks swinging from the ceiling where timing is everything and the genius of the versatile set (designed by David Farley) comes to life.

The Comedy About A Bank Robbery is a hysterical farce revolving around several calamitous plots to steal the diamond. The whole play hinges wonderfully on perfect timing, misunderstandings and simulated disaster which look genuine every time – another smash-hit from the Mischief Theatre Company!

The Comedy About A Bank Robbery is currently booking at the Criterion Theatre until October 2017 book tickets here. For more information on your visit to the Criterion Theatre, visit West End Theatre Guide’s website.