- Finian Hackett
My Top 12 Favourite Performances Ever (Part 2)
Welcome to the second half of my top 12 favourite performances ever! The first 6 included the likes of Bette Midler in Hello, Dolly! and Natalie McQueen in Kinky Boots so let's have a look at the other 6 (and remember these aren't ranked in any particular order).
1. Amber Riley - Dreamgirls
After seeing the film of Dreamgirls, the show had a lot to live up to and was highly anticipated as this was its UK premiere (a whopping 35 years after the show opened on Broadway). It did not disappoint in the slightest. The score has to be one of my absolute favourites and all the performances were stunning but especially Amber Riley's. The Glee star made her West End debut with a powerful portrayal of Effie White. She told the story with so much passion, particularly in her showstopping number 'And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going', a song that got everyone on their feet. I would love to see this performance again.
2. Tracie Bennett - Follies
As many of you know, Sondheim is my favourite, but Follies was one of his shows I knew very little about. I have grown to love it ever since seeing this production in late 2017 and my dad producing a local production the following year. The show was full of hugely strong performers such as Imelda Staunton, Janie Dee and of course Tracie Bennett. Taking on the role of Carlotta, an old Weisman girl turned film star, Bennett gave the character so much drive and energy and you really warmed to her. The character's big number 'I'm Still Here' was one of the show's crowning moments. Bennett earned herself an extremely well deserved Olivier nomination.
3. Rob McClure - Mrs Doubtfire
Now, this is one performance not many people will have seen. I was extremely fortunate to attend the first Broadway preview of new musical Mrs Doubtfire back in March, the week before the Broadway shutdown. Based on the film and book of the same name, the show stars Rob McClure in the titular role. As both Daniel and alter ego Mrs Doubtfire, McClure puts his life and soul into the role and is absolutely incredible. I have honestly never seen a performer do what he did on stage before. He is coming for next years Tony Award, I am telling you now. The show itself was so fun but also very emotional and beautifully written; I do hope more people will be able to see it once Broadway reopens.
4. Caroline O'Connor and Gemma Sutton - The Rink
Okay, this one is kind of cheating, but let's go with it. The Rink is one of my dad's favourite shows and my sister and I had no idea what to expect. The show starred Caroline O'Connor and Gemma Sutton as mother-daughter duo Anna and Angel as they try and reconcile following the sale of the family's old roller rink. Originated by Chita Rivera and Liza Minnelli, they had a lot to live up to. Sutton and O'Connor shone throughout the whole musical, singing every Kander and Ebb song with such heart. Being at the Southwark Playhouse, the show was so intimate, and to be just 6 feet away from these 2 incredible performers was a joy. I would love to see this show come back in some form, possibly in a West End transfer.
5. Aisha Jawando - Tina: The Tina Turner Musical
Tina was one of the biggest surprises for me as I was expecting a bog-standard jukebox musical but got a gritty, emotional, story-filled spectacular. Heading the production as Tina Turner herself was Aisha Jawando, an alternate for the role of Tina. Jawando is now playing the role full time - a well-deserved promotion indeed. One of the most impressive things about her performance, aside from her INCREDIBLE voice, was that you would never know she didn't do this every night of the week; a brilliant reminder that you should never disregard a performance simply because you're not seeing the billed "star" or the regular performer. Every scene, every song was delivered with passion and punch by Jawando - a star in the making for sure.
6. Patti LuPone - Company
The only performance on this list that I have had the privilege of seeing twice. Broadway legend Patti LuPone returned to the West End stage in the 2018 revival of Company. She had previously played her character, Joanne, in the 2011 concert production. Her comic timing and iconic voice was a pleasure to experience - it felt a bit odd seeing her live after watching her on YouTube for so many years. When I was in New York this year, my aim was to see her play this role in its Broadway transfer and luckily I did! She was just as good second time around, if not better thanks to her American supporters. After 'The Ladies Who Lunch', the ovation lasted about 3 minutes non-stop - it was crazy! LuPone has bagged herself another Tony with this role for sure.
Well, that's all 12 of my favourite ever performances! I hope you enjoyed having a little read of my opinions but please let me know yours below!