YEAR IN REVIEW: JUSTIN’S TOP 5 2021

2021 was another year of highs and lows – if I were being a pessimist, mainly lows, but if I were being an optimist I’d call it ‘a time to reflect’ – however despite this, there were still some outstanding gems to be found! The reopening of the Royal Theatre in Sydney, the fact that Australia for a brief stint had the only production of Hamilton running in the entire world, and some golden pieces of theatre along the way.

So, what made it into my top five most treasured productions of the year and why? Let’s begin.

5. RENT (SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE)

The first production I saw in 2021 and one that still stays with me. Perhaps it’s thinking back on this production with hindsight after watching Netflix’s Tick, Tick…BOOM! (which is a must watch if you haven’t already seen it) and now seeing the production in a much deeper light. Nonetheless, on its own this production proved how to make Larson’s game changer of a show still relevant and adaptable in today’s world. The highlight for me still was the production’s rendition of Seasons of Love which I still standby is the most unique version of it seen on a Sydney stage. The blending of cultures and experiences through a modern lens gave RENT new life, and this is why it stands in my Top 5. You can read our full review here.

4. SIX the Musical (Sydney Opera House)

A late edition to the top shows of 2021, but still deserved nonetheless! SIX The Musical is 75 minutes of pure adrenaline and talent bundled up into a feminist powered theatrical piece of storytelling. Led by an all female cast and band, SIX is filled with tunes that have you cheering at the beginning of the piece, and standing to dance at the end. As a theatrical piece of social commentary on women in herstory, resonating into the stories we tell today, SIX is a piece of theatre that you can indulge in again, and again, and again. Read our full review here.

3. HAMILTON (SYDNEY LYRIC THEATRE)

I could not create a Top 5 list without including the behemoth that is Hamilton. As a musical theatre lover, it struck every cord for me to witness yet again, how theatre can change and adapt and tell stories representative of a modern world. While many may see this as overhyped, it still stands in my heart as one of my all-time favourites. Some of the casting choices on the particular night I saw may have pushed it backwards in my Top 5, however, there was no way of escaping the list altogether. Do not throw away your shot and miss this production before it leaves our shores. Read our full review here.

2. COME FROM AWAY (CAPITOL THEATRE, SYDNEY)

Having seen this production twice in Australia, there was no way it was going to get away from my Top 5 of 2021. Come From Away is a story of hope and human kindness, in a time where human kindness was thrown into disaray. Perhaps it’s the true stories that make up this production, or the pure ensemble direction created by the show’s creatives that really tickles my theatre heart. Maybe it’s just that every damn time the show finishes, you’re on your feat and cheering away with the band and leave the theatre on a high. Read our full review on the production here.

1. YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (HAYES THEATRE COMPANY)

If there is one thing I am grateful for this year, it is the Hayes Theatre. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing four of their productions this year (Young Frankenstien, American Psycho, Half Time and Merrily We Roll Along) and they smash it out of the park each and every time. The one that has topped my Top 5 list for this year is the Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein. When I first read that the Hayes Theatre Co would be staging this, I was intrigued as this is a big stage musical, and those who know the Hayes, will know it’s an intimately smaller theatre than most. But, damn, did they show the definition of ‘creative’. Not only did they manage to make something I’d never seen before of this show, they also managed to keep me laughing from the opening curtain to the closing. A production with a small cast, small band and big laughs, this still stays with me, and therefore, is my number one production of 2021. Read our full review here.

HONOURABLE MENTION: FANGIRLS (BELVOIR ST THEATRE)

I can’t conclude this list without making an honourable mention to Fangirls. While I myself have never personally been a “fangirl” over a band to the point of obsession, I can understand what it means to wholeheartedly love something – for me it’s theatre. My own prejudice aside, this musical was inventive, hilarious and left you angry at the patriarchy, whilst also leaving you uplifted and cemented in what you are a Fangirl of. There are rumours this may make a season return in 2022, so keep your eyes peeled. Read our full review here.

2022 NEW YEARS RESOLUTION

In reading this list you could probably tell that my preference in theatre swings to the musical side. Thus, my 2022 New Years Resolution is to indulge myself in the quieter pieces of work and take in more plays. I’m most excited to see Bell Shakespeare‘s production of Hamlet, and I’m looking to land myself a ticket to the return season of The Picture of Dorian Gray at the Sydney Theatre Company.


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