Incredible to think we’re not only coming to the end of the year, but also the big finale of another decade.
As 2019 draws to a close and the nation is caught up in election fever, let’s look back at 10 of the best shows which played in Leeds this year — including a few that you can still catch either in the region or on tour.
Much has been said about Leeds Playhouse’s bold staging of Hamlet, the Princess of Denmark.An invigorating, interrogating take on an established masterpiece, this version ranks as one of the most inventive and inspiring reimaginings of Shakespeare in recent years.
It succeeded in being both accessible and engaging, whilst surfacing new ideas which relate to urgent, present-day anxieties.An expertly executed production which entertained and enthralled at a pace.
Jules Verne’s classic is adapted by the Playhouse into a frantic, fun-filled caper in the old pantomime tradition with a bit of music hall fanfare to boot.
Providing plenty of practical gags with a perfect balance of whimsy and adventure, Around the World in 80 Days was an ideal family show and an inspiring example of what you can do with a small cast and a box of tricks.
A renovated Leeds Playhouse reopens its doors and reveals a new performance space, with Charley Miles’ pointed exploration of women’s lives in the shadow of the Yorkshire Ripper.
Featuring a standout performance from Julie Hesmondhalgh, There Are No Beginnings was an arresting, insightful and disturbing piece of investigative theatre that wholeheartedly refocused its lens on the people who matter, whilst disarming the unseen evil who engineered so many fears.
Often epic, always ambitious and distinct from the usual seasonal offering, this inspired musical is currently Leeds Playhouse’s big Christmas production and offers a great opportunity to relive the adventure that spawned an extended universe of sequels and spinoffs.
It’s a cherished classic — renewed with an abundance of fantasy, flair and force of talent.
The acid test for a great panto is the quality of its dame and this year one of the finest returns to City Varieties.Simon Nock is an unstoppable force as Grandma Millie and is, for my money, the best on today’s panto circuit.
If you’re looking for one panto to pick this season, Red Riding Hood is the one: It’s pitched perfectly at kids whilst delivering enough rock and sauciness to keep the folks happy. Not sure if granny will get the gag about Millie’s lemon drizzle, though…
It may not be perfect, but Kay Mellor’s gutsy adaptation of her hit television drama about prostitution is full of memorable performances and sparkling dialogue.
Band of Gold is an empowering period piece that fearlessly explores a distinctly silent world — providing fresh agency and representation to a subculture of women who are still on the edge of society.With that in mind, this is fundamentally a play about four strong women amplifying their voice, and they demand to be heard.
An economic, impassioned solo which rings true at every turn.Full of expressive, legitimate voices and troubling truths, Random was one of the most compact and impactful pieces of theatre on stage in 2019.
It was also a fresh example of how a single-handed performance can captivate and command its audience, with a superlative delivery from Kiza Deen.
A majestic, extravagantly-staged musical honouring its celebrated story and classic score by Rodgers and Hammerstein.
Through performance, music, design and lighting, the standard of its stagecraft was near impeccable. A very special, heavily resourced experience that asks you to wholly lose yourself in its gilded beauty.Immersive, graceful and essential musical theatre.
Richard O’Brien’s bonkers musical is now over 45 years old and has evolved into its own monster. Part celebration, part panto, it feels like a ceremony celebrating its own extravagance and free-spiritedness.
This touring version captured much of the show’s original lustre and lust for life, and whilst there’s little new from the versions that have landed recently, the uplifting choreography and thumping musical numbers continue to score highly.