Musicals

West Side Story’s flick-knife-to-the-guts thrill never landed its final blow

17 August 2019 9:00 am

It was as though Damien Hirst had confessed a secret passion for Victorian watercolours, or Lars von Trier had admitted…

A cartoonish look at migration: Europe at the Donmar reviewed

13 July 2019 9:00 am

Europe. Big word. Big theme. It was used by David Greig as the title of his 1994 play about frontiers…

Can an Offenbach production be too silly? Garsington’s Fantasio reviewed

22 June 2019 9:00 am

The tears of a clown have often fallen on fertile operatic ground. Think of Rigoletto and I Pagliacci; or The…

Slow-moving tale with a strong echo of Brideshead: Alys, Always at the Bridge reviewed

16 March 2019 9:00 am

Nicholas Hytner’s new show, Alys, Always, is based on a Harriet Lane novel that carries a strong echo of Brideshead.…

Cate Blanchett in When We Have Sufficiently Tortured Each Other

A winning hoax: When We Have Sufficiently Tortured Each Other reviewed

2 February 2019 9:00 am

The NT’s new play is an update of Pamela, a sexploitation novel by Samuel Richardson. It opens with Stephen Dillane…

Rupert Graves and Colin Mcfarlane in Pinter's 'hilarious sketch' Victoria Station. Photo: Marc Brenner

One masterpiece, one dud and one interesting rediscovery: Pinter Five reviewed

19 January 2019 9:00 am

One masterpiece, one dud, and one interesting rediscovery. That’s Pinter Five. Victoria Station is a hilarious sketch which might have…

In the pink: Luke MacGregor as Edward Cooper in Eyam at Shakespeare’s Globe

The Old Vic’s Sylvia may be the new Les Mis

29 September 2018 9:00 am

Sylvia, the Old Vic’s musical about the Pankhurst clan, has had a troubled nativity. Illness struck the cast during rehearsals.…

Aristocrats by Brian Friel at Donar Warehouse Credit: Johan Persson

Brian Friel’s Aristocrats should be called ‘Posh People Move House’

1 September 2018 9:00 am

Non-stop chatterbox and mystifyingly revered fabricator of sub-Chekovian paddywhackery, Brian Friel has received another production at the Donmar. His play…

Contains at least 15 laugh-out-loud moments: Genesis Inc. reviewed

7 July 2018 9:00 am

Listen to the crowd. I often delay passing judgment on a show until the audience delivers its verdict. This is…

A full-on Freudian Oklahoma! at Grange Park Opera

16 June 2018 9:00 am

Oh, what a beautiful morning! In Jo Davies’s production of Oklahoma! the audience spends the overture staring at the side…

Roger Allam as John Christie in David Hare’s The Moderate Soprano

A champion actor and fully paid-up member of the human race: Roger Allam interviewed

26 May 2018 9:00 am

A most excellent fellow, Roger Allam. On the stage he brings dignity to all he does, in the noblest traditions…

Large chunks felt lifted from The Archers: Nightfall reviewed

26 May 2018 9:00 am

The Bridge’s big summer show is Nightfall by prize-winning newcomer Barney Norris. Widowed Jenny wants her grown-up kids, Lou and…

Flop of the year? Royal Court’s Instructions for Correct Assembly reviewed

28 April 2018 9:00 am

‘Hunt the Flop’, the Royal Court’s bizarre quest for dud plays, has found a candidate for this year’s overall prize.…

Missing in action: Cosmo Jarvis and Oliver Alvin-Wilson in The Twilight Zone at the Almeida

The latest astonishing achievement from the creators of War Horse

13 January 2018 9:00 am

The Twilight Zone, an American TV show from the early 1960s, reinvented the ghost story for the age of space…

As a musical, it’s overwhelming – politically, it’s an outrage: Hamilton reviewed

6 January 2018 9:00 am

It’s all about the rhythm. Hamilton is a musical that tells the story of America’s foundation through the medium of…

Huge audiences, gongs galore and Broadway awaits Everybody’s Talking About Jamie

2 December 2017 9:00 am

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie opened at the Sheffield Crucible in February for a standard three-week run. The show is based…

Bring on the dancing-girls: Follies at the Oliver

Age concern

16 September 2017 9:00 am

Stephen Sondheim’s Follies takes a huge leap into the past. It’s 1971 and we meet two middle-aged couples who knew…

The many sides of satire

19 August 2017 9:00 am

Brexit the Musical is a peppy satire written by Chris Bryant (not the MP, he’s a lawyer). Musically the show…

Carly Bawden as Alice and Joshua Lacey as the White Rabbit

Damon Albarn’s wonder.land will not succeed at the National. It might work in Vegas

9 January 2016 9:00 am

Damon Albarn and Rufus Norris present a musical version of Alice in Wonderland. A challenging enterprise even if they’d stuck…

Please let's have more musicals like this Kiss Me, Kate at Opera North

10 October 2015 9:00 am

Opera North’s new production of Cole Porter’s masterwork Kiss Me, Kate has been so widely and justly praised that I…

Why I’m stepping down after 28 years as The Spectator pop critic

10 October 2015 9:00 am

This is my 345th and last monthly column about pop music for The Spectator. I believe I might be the…

Edinburgh Fringe highlights: world-class improv, Bible study and an hour with a gentle genius

29 August 2015 9:00 am

Showstopper! The Improvised Musical offers a brand new song-and-dance spectacular at every performance. It opens with a brilliantly chaotic piece…

A clear-eyed account of socialism: Paul Higgins and Stella Gonet in ‘Hope’ at the Royal Court

If you thought politics was boring, you should check out today’s political theatre

2 May 2015 9:00 am

Writers and producers have shown little appetite for putting the coalition on stage. Several reasons suggest themselves. In 2010 wise…

Nicholas Hytner’s sod-you farewell: Rules for Living at the Dorfman reviewed

11 April 2015 9:00 am

Experts are concerned that Alan Ayckbourn’s plays may soon face extinction. Fewer than 80 of these precious beasts still exist…

The Heckler: Why I’m allergic to Stephen Sondheim

21 March 2015 9:00 am

I came out in a rash when I heard that Emma Thompson was to star in Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd…