Saturday, December 31, 2016

Best of 2016

So, 2016. Worst year ever? Or maybe not so terrible after all? I don't know – but this way or that, thank goodness for live theatre.

For me personally, 2016 has been busy and exciting. I graduated and started working as a full-time communications coordinator in a theatre. The work's been both hard and challenging, fun and rewarding. I've still a lot to learn, but there have been moments when everything's felt just right. So whatever the future will bring, I hope I'll get to keep on learning and working in the field that's so close to my heart.

I've also seen plenty of shows this year, both good and otherwise. I like to focus on the good stuff, so to celebrate the end of 2016, here's a short list of the most memorable musical performances of the year. In no particular order, but saving the best for the last.

Jekyll & Hyde, Det Ny Teater, Denmark


Photo by Miklos Szabo

This was no perfect production, but it was an intriguing one that has haunted me for the better part of the year.

Implying Emma struggles with mental illness and giving Spider more time onstage were interesting decisions on their own, but the dark and disturbing tone of the whole production is even better. Instead of stumbling on the awkward parts of the musical's script, the Danish creative team managed to create a wonderful, creepy atmosphere with a strong focus on the duality and responsibility of man.

Deep stuff for Frank Wildhorn's Jekyll & Hyde the Musical, that's what I'm saying.

Last performance of Jekyll & Hyde in Jyväskylän kaupunginteatteri, Finland


Photo by Jiri Halttunen

This one's sort of cheating, since the production premiered in 2015 already. But the last performance in May 2016 was truely something special.

I don't know if it's a thing in other countries, but in Finland, it's something of a tradition that during the last performance of a theatrical production, actors play little pranks on each other. And let me tell you, I've never seen as thorough and as entertaining pranking as during this performance! Highlights included Jekyll impromptu singing and dancing his way into the Red Rat and all the Red Rat dancers taking turns in harassing Utterson during the scene that followed.

I don't know what the audience in general thought of the mayhem, but for us J&H fans gathered in the first rows of the auditorium, it was a hilarious treat. A perfect ending for a fun production.

Les Misérables, Wermland Opera, Sweden


Photo by Mats Bäcker

I travelled to Sweden twice for this (the link above is to my first review, read about the second time here).

I've seen Les Mis 30 times soon, but watching this production for the first time, I was so immersed in the story it really felt like I didn't know what's going to happen next. The production is not without its problems, but the way it treats Jean Valjean – as the main character of the story instead of a person around whom dramatic things keep happening... It sounds so simple, it's almost shocking how refreshing seeing that felt!

Klokkeren fra Notre Dame, Fredericia Teater, Denmark


Photo by Søren Malmose

I think I've said it all in my review. I waited for five years to see Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame the Musical live. I could have waited for fifteen and been completely satisfied. I'm grateful for the opportunity to watch this musical as a part of the premiere audience. Nothing can compare, and I doubt I'll ever experience anything else quite like this.

I know extreme enthusiasm, like mine, can be a bit scary. Maybe you think that if you saw the show, your experience could never live up to what I've described in my review. And maybe it won't! But even so, I cannot but encourage everyone who can make it to Copenhagen next summer to purchase a ticket now, while they're still available, to see it for yourself. Whether you're a fan or a professional, an artist or an enthusiast, it'll be a performance to remember.

Book your ticket, I'll book mine, and we'll see each other in Copenhagen next summer.

Related posts: Best of 2015, Upcoming in 2017
Bubbling under: Rock of Ages (it's currently playing in the theatre I work at. I doubt I would have seen the 80s rock jukebox show six times if I had had to pay full price, but as it is... It's all empty calories, nice sights and sounds with no substance whatsoever, but I have to be honest and admit I've enjoyed it immensely), Vampyyrien tanssi (I'm afraid I grew tired of the new Finnish production of Tanz der Vampire faster than I thought I might – but it was very entertaining, with the most enthusiastic Finnish musical fandom I've seen in years. It introduced me to new friends and let me have fun with old ones, and for that reason alone, it has a place in my heart)

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