It was a good year for musicals in Scotland, with quite a few of the big West End shows touring north of the Border for the first time.
A favourite of mine was Sister Act, which came to the King's Theatre in Glasgow and I returned for a second time, knowing the quality of the production having reviewed it at the Playhouse. The lead performance by Cynthia Erivo as Deloris Van Cartier was pivotal to its success and not many young musical theatre performers could fill her shoes: she's definitely one to watch. Cavin Cornwall's portrayal of suavely dangerous mobster Curtis Jackson was memorable too.
Another highlight, this time at the Playhouse, was the 25th anniversary production of The Phantom of the Opera. Having seen Phantom at an impressionable age, last time it toured in Edinburgh, I was delighted that the sheer majesty of its staging had not been lost but had, in fact, been effectively enhanced. The addition of the ballet corps and choreography from Matthew Bourne also made the lavish setting of the Paris Opera House come to life. Seeing Cameron Mackintosh in the newly refurbished bar was also heart-stopping for a musical theatre die-hard friend of mine. The same week, Lord Lloyd Webber attended the SECC staging of his arena tour of Jesus Christ Superstar and although an interesting interpretation (set in riot-torn London) it didn't wholly work. Some miscasting (celebrity status over vocal competence) may have had something to do with it and I certainly won't be buying the DVD for anyone.
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A lesser-known musical gem was unearthed during the Fringe, thanks to Patch of Blue Theatre. The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee made me laugh heartily and teased my eyes into welling up more than I'd like to admit. It was he perfect blend of humour and poignancy.
Next year looks like another vintage musical one, with Rent, Ghost and Priscilla Queen of the Desert already on sale. Rumours abound that both The Lion King and Wicked will be touring in Scotland soon, but currently only dates in England are released.
Continuing the musical vein, as part of Celtic Connections in January Woody Sez at the Tron was another find. Telling the story of the dustbowl trobadour Woody Guthrie it was a neat journey exploring the man and his music while remaining ominously pertinent in an era many fear mirrors the Great Depression. Meanwhile, more tragic than depressing, and as part of the Bard in the Botanics season, Romeo and Juliet impressed me. Beset by torrential rain the young cast sprung into action in the Kibble Palace for the majority of their short "summer" run, having cancelled almost the first week of performances.
A more talked-about and controversially groundbreaking Shakespeare adaptation was the National Theatre of Scotland's Macbeth at Tramway. I'll be honest, since The High Life, I could pretty much watch Alan Cumming read Paris Hilton's twitter feed and enjoy it but I thought it was a physical and disturbing performance and an eerily apt treatment of the Scottish play.
My comedic highlight was Dylan Moran at the Fringe and although not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, it made me want to revisit some of his TV work including Black Books; if intent is half the battle, maybe I'll manage that next year.
Looking ahead there are some decent female comics going on tour: Miranda Hart's stand-up should be interesting but although already on sale (undoubtedly it will sell out soon) it's not actually happening until 2014 – the same as Sarah Millican. Bugbear alert...