Come So Far, Got So Far To Go...

After a fantastic run of almost four years, it's finally time to say goodbye to the baby I created when I was only 14 years old. Across these four years, Shaun's Musical Musings really has been the making of me and if I hadn't have embarked on this journey, I would be nothing in comparison to what I am today. And I have all of you readers to thank for that immensely.

My Top 50 Musicals of All-Time (10-1)

Today, I'm excited to share my meticulously toothcombed list with all of you, a list that I just spent another hour before posting this trying to refine. The list is not totally exact because, obviously, my moods fluctuate as time progresses, but most of them remain the same. It's also important to note that, to make it to this list, I need to have seen some official version of the show, be it a stage performance, a film adaptation or a filmed stage performance. Only two shows on the entire list have made it despite that rule, mainly because it'd be sacrilege to not include them... the final part, let's go!

My Top 50 Musicals of All-Time (20-11)

Today, I'm excited to share my meticulously toothcombed list with all of you, a list that I just spent another hour before posting this trying to refine. The list is not totally exact because, obviously, my moods fluctuate as time progresses, but most of them remain the same. It's also important to note that, to make it to this list, I need to have seen some official version of the show, be it a stage performance, a film adaptation or a filmed stage performance. Only two shows on the entire list have made it despite that rule, mainly because it'd be sacrilege to not include them... Part 4, let's go!

My Top 50 Musicals of All-Time (30-21)

Today, I'm excited to share my meticulously toothcombed list with all of you, a list that I just spent another hour before posting this trying to refine. The list is not totally exact because, obviously, my moods fluctuate as time progresses, but most of them remain the same. It's also important to note that, to make it to this list, I need to have seen some official version of the show, be it a stage performance, a film adaptation or a filmed stage performance. Only two shows on the entire list have made it despite that rule, mainly because it'd be sacrilege to not include them... Part 3, let's go!

My Top 50 Musicals of All-Time (40-31)

Today, I'm excited to share my meticulously toothcombed list with all of you, a list that I just spent another hour before posting this trying to refine. The list is not totally exact because, obviously, my moods fluctuate as time progresses, but most of them remain the same. It's also important to note that, to make it to this list, I need to have seen some official version of the show, be it a stage performance, a film adaptation or a filmed stage performance. Only two shows on the entire list have made it despite that rule, mainly because it'd be sacrilege to not include them... Part 2, let's go!

My Top 50 Musicals of All-Time (50-41)

Today, I'm excited to share my meticulously toothcombed list with all of you, a list that I just spent another hour before posting this trying to refine. The list is not totally exact because, obviously, my moods fluctuate as time progresses, but most of them remain the same. It's also important to note that, to make it to this list, I need to have seen some official version of the show, be it a stage performance, a film adaptation or a filmed stage performance. Only two shows on the entire list have made it despite that rule, mainly because it'd be sacrilege to not include them... Part 1, let's go!

My Favourite Theatre YouTube Channels, Podcasts & Web Shows!

I love a lot of theatre blogs and I love a lot of theatre websites, but today's post isn't going to focus on either of those things. Instead, I want to talk about my favourite "alternative" theatre outlets and share that list with you: web shows, YouTube channels and podcasts. While it's always fun to read about theatre when you come home, I think there's also a lot to say and praise about theatre commentary and content in other, more diverse mediums, too.

Top 15 Performances I've Ever Seen

Over my time as a theatregoer, I have had the privilege of seeing over 250 shows and because of that, I have seen a lot of outstanding performances. I went back through my huge list of all of the shows that I've seen and have narrowed down the 15 best that I've had the joy of witnessing and have provided clips from those shows, too, so you can experience them as well.

My Favourite Theatres I've Visited

Over the years of being a theatregoer, I have had the veritable thrill of getting to visit many different theatres and theatre spaces in London, around the UK and even in New York and some of them have really captured my heart. So it was with great pride that I sat down the other night to compile a list of my top 15 favourite theatres I've ever visited, and now I want to share that list with all of you.

My Favourite SMM Posts of All Time

With the end of Shaun's Musical Musings nigh, I was feeling nostaligic about everything that I've done for the website through time. There have been reviews I've written that I'm proud of and interviews I've conducted that I've loved, so instead of letting them go to waste, I thought it would be a good opportunity to take a trip down memory lane and revisit those good times.

Cut, Print, Moving On: Saying Goodbye to Shaun's Musical Musings

After over three and a half years as a theatre blogger - starting back in 2014 when I'd just turned 15 years old - I've come to decide that it's time to hang up my coat and call it a day. It's been a fantastic run and they've been formative days for me as a person that I will never forget. I've made wonderful friends and have had amazing experiences and I can't say thank you enough for that.

Shaun's Jukebox #6: Spongeday in the Park with Amber

I'm actually super excited to talk about the cast albums shown above in this edition of Shaun's Jukebox because we have such a brilliant selection: two new recordings from shows that I adore and an album for a new show that really shouldn't work but it totally does! All three of them feature completely different tones and sounds to one another, but all three of them are amazing.

Review: 2017 Tony Award-winning Best Play OSLO by J.T. Rogers at the National Theatre, Lyttelton

When Oslo opened on Broadway, I was only vaguely intrigued by it, but as I read more and more about the story that the play tells, I became almost obsessed with it. Then in June, the play went on to win the Tony for Best Play and now, the show is in London - quick turnaround, indeed. Currently playing at the NT before a West End run, Oslo is going to be as much of a hit here as it was in NYC.

Review: Lucy Kirkwood's MOSQUITOES at the National Theatre, Dorfman

When the National Theatre announced their Summer 2017 season, apart from the iconic revival of Follies starring Imelda Staunton and Janie Dee, I was most excited about the new Lucy Kirkwood play Mosquitoes. I've been a fan of Lucy's work for a long time now ever since her hit play Chimerica and she's one of my favourites, so I was glad to see that Mosquitoes did not disappoint.

Review: Imelda Staunton and Janie Dee in Sondheim's FOLLIES at the National Theatre, Olivier

I'm a total Sondheim fan through and through and have been for as long as I can remember, so when news got out that Imelda Staunton (my favourite stage actress) and Janie Dee were to be starring in a lavish revival of Follies (arguably Sondheim's most stunning show) at the National Theatre (my favourite place on Earth), I'm sure you can imagine how my heart started to flutter at the thought.

The Best Musical Theatre Performances of All Time, As Suggested by YOU!

Earlier on this week, I took to Twitter to ask everyone what their favourite performances of musical numbers ever were, simply because I was feeling curious. What I didn't expect was a list of almost 50 suggestions in response to such a broad question. So, today, I thought I'd sit down and take a chunk of those performances and turn them into a comprehensive list of all of your opinions...

Review: Butterworth's THE FERRYMAN at the Gielgud

Jez Butterworth is probably most famous for the creation of his iconic landmark play Jerusalem, which starred Mark Rylance and ran in the West End and on Broadway a decade ago. Flash forward to 2017 and his latest play, The Ferryman, seems to be having similar levels of record-breaking success. But is this play really worth the hype, or is it completely going over peoples' heads?

Review: OUR LADIES OF PERPETUAL SUCCOUR at the Duke of York's

I was originally booked in to see the first preview performance of Our Ladies at the National, Dorfman last August but was forced to withdraw last minute, so I've definitely waited a long time to garner hype and excitement to see this show. And did it disappoint at all? In the style of the Scottish ladies that take us through the show: "absolutely fookin' not!"

Review: Stiles and Drewe's THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS at the London Palladium

One of the first shows I ever took part in was my Year 4 school musical production of The Wind in the Willows - not this version, but a different one - and I played Mr Toad. It's stuck in my mind ever since as being the moment I fell in love with the theatre for real, so this new musical production really intimidated me. But did it spoil that memory of the story for me? Not one bit.

Review: Audra McDonald in LADY DAY AT EMERSON'S BAR & GRILL at Wyndham's

I've been so excited about this show coming to London that I am even excited to sit down and write this review. Nay: I'm even excited to have the opportunity to write this review! If you hadn't heard the news, Audra McDonald - "the most celebrated star in Broadway history", as marquees brand her as being - is in London as Billie Holiday in Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill. And it's fucking fab.

Shaun's Jukebox #5: Welcome to Broadway

I won't bore you with my usual spiel about how much I love Broadway, but to mark the return of Shaun's Jukebox after 18 months away, I thought I'd introduce you to some of Broadway's latest cast albums: one is a new version of a personal favourite show, while two of them are completely brand-spanking new. Let's hope you find something new to listen to today!

Review: SALOMÉ at the National Theatre, Olivier

The two shows that are currently playing in rep at the National Theatre's Olivier auditorium - DC Moore's Common and Yael Farber's Salomé - are both getting a lot of press lately, but not for much good reason. Disappointingly, two of the biggest shows in the NT's catalogue this Summer have been labelled as one-star failures and when I saw Salomé for myself the other week, I sadly had to agree.

Review: Northern Ballet's THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PYJAMAS at the Aylesbury Waterside, UK Tour

I re-read The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne in anticipation for seeing the new Northern Ballet tour of the story and if there's one thing that the story makes me feel, it's astounded. Not only am I floored by how emotionally gut-wrenching this tale - originally written for young teens! - is, but I'm also fascinated by how daring Boyne was to end the story in such a twisted and brutal way.

Review: 25th Anniversary Revival of Tony Kushner's ANGELS IN AMERICA at the National Theatre, Lyttelton

Tony Kushner's Pulitzer Prize, Tony, Emmy and Olivier Award-winning tale Angels In America is perhaps the most iconic play in recent years and is certainly one of my personal favourites, so when word of this star-studded revival at the National was announced - directed by none other than Curious Incident alum Marianne Elliott - to say I was excited would be an incredible understatement.

Review: Ruth Rendell's A JUDGEMENT IN STONE at the Aylesbury Waterside, UK Tour

I have a very hit-and-miss relationship with stage show murder mysteries: The Mousetrap I hated, but stage versions of other Agatha Christie stories I have liked. I think there is something very important about the play that needs to work - the level of suspense to keep me entertained all night - and unfortunately, that element is not working in this play.

Review: THE GIRLS at the Phoenix

Unlike the rest of Britain, I do not like Gary Barlow's music all too much, so when I heard that he was the man behind the musicalisation of the classic British story Calendar Girls, I was kind of disappointed to say the least. But that's a feeling that ran for the hills and I deeply regret after having seen this show, as it really is one of the best British musicals I have seen in years.

Those Dancing Feet: 42ND STREET at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane

I used to be obsessed with the original cast recording of 42nd Street many years ago, so the news of the revival hit me with a wave of nostalgic excitement; I still even have a vinyl record of the album and listen to it regularly to lift my spirits. But there was something about this revival that didn't fill me with that passion or love for the show and I'm kind of alone in thinking it.

A Veritable Thrill: GANGSTA GRANNY by David Walliams at the Aylesbury Waterside, UK Tour

My main motivation for going to see Gangsta Granny at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre was because my 11 year old stepsister had been dying to go, so I reluctantly said we could and along we went. What I wasn't expecting though was an evening that even myself and my stepmother found enjoyable, despite the fact that we are far older than the show's target audience!

Review: Lindsey Ferrentino's UGLY LIES THE BONE at the National Theatre, Lyttelton

It's rare that I see something at the National and end up being disappointed in it, but in a season of shows like the ones that the NT are producing right now, there really has been a lot that has been sub-par in comparison to their bigger works. Unfortunately, Ugly Lies The Bone by Lindsey Ferrentino is a prime example of just that and it's a shame to see.

Haunting and Unique: National Theatre / Bristol Old Vic's JANE EYRE at the Aylesbury Waterside, UK Tour

I missed the Bristol Old Vic production of Jane Eyre when it was at the National Theatre last year - very unfortunately so - and I heard nothing but rave reviews of it. So I was delighted to see that not only was the magical show returning, but that it was also heading out on tour as well so everyone across the country could witness it. And may I say that it was everything that I expected and more.

Absolute Perfection: Imelda Staunton in Albee's WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? at the Harold Pinter

I first discovered Edward Albee's 1962 Tony Award-winning masterpiece when I was 12 years old after I saw a copy of the text at a car boot sale and bought it for 5p. The copy was annotated heavily and I read every word and annotation like a priest would read his Bible and from that moment, I fell deeply and madly in love with the magic of this stunning play.

Review: Tamsin Grieg in TWELFTH NIGHT at the National Theatre, Olivier

I have a serious love/hate relationship with Shakespeare; I'm getting to the point now where I'm bored of seeing his plays crop up in similar and tedious revivals across town every season, so when this new production of the play - with a cast led by Tamsin Grieg as Malvolia - came to my attention at the NT new season announcement last year, my curiosity peaked.

Gimme, Gimme: Joanne Clifton in THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE at the Aylesbury Waterside, UK Tour

I've loved the cast album for Millie for as long as I can remember and as a ridiculously huge Sutton Foster fan and idoliser, I thought it was going to be hard for me to imagine the show without her Tony Award-winning performance at the helm. Brilliantly, Joanne Clifton makes a charming, exuberant and refreshing Millie that - along with the rest of the cast - makes this tour a high-quality smash hit.

Review: Ellen Kent's production of Verdi's NABUCCO, Aylesbury Waterside Theatre

While I've seen opera before, I've actually never sat down to review it before, but I'm excited that I at least have some opera experience under my belt for writing this review. The opera I saw this time around was Ellen Kent's UK tour of Verdi's classic opera Nabucco - one of my grandmother's favourites - so we went on down to the Aylesbury Waterside to find out what it's all about.

Wholly Unnecessary: SEX WITH STRANGERS at the Hampstead Theatre

I don't remember the last time that I saw a play as painfully unnecessary as Sex With Strangers at the Hampstead Theatre. The show was so pointless that it crossed my mind several times throughout the performance: "what is the point in this?" Not only is the dialogue cliched and cringe-worthy, but the story is too in a plot that goes from drab to dry at the speed of paint drying. Why write this?

Review: Cherry Jones in Tennessee Williams's THE GLASS MENAGERIE at the Duke of York's

The classic Tennessee Williams play The Glass Menagerie is in my top three favourite plays of all time, so the news of this landmark revival - helmed by John Tiffany - would finally transfer across the pond to London this year, I was elated. While it is one of my favourite plays of all time, I have never been able to see a professionally staged production before, and this was a perfect first.

Review: Caryl Churchill's ESCAPED ALONE at the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs, Royal Court

Caryl Churchill is undeniably one of the greatest playwrights of our time, right up there with the likes of David Hare and Tony Kushner. However, what Churchill does so perfectly in comparison is that she manages to give a beautifully ironic and dark twist to relevant and topical situations in a completely unexpected and original way; Escaped Alone is a brilliant example of that.

Review: THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME, UK Tour at the Aylesbury Waterside

I've seen The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time three times now and each and every time, I am still amazed at how beautiful the piece is and how original their way of storytelling comes across. The story is unique and the show as a whole is visually stunning and considering it's such a small and easy show to take around, it transfers onto a regional stage perfectly as well.

Backstage with playwright Simon Stephens of CURIOUS INCIDENT and NUCLEAR WAR

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is one of the best stage adaptations I've ever seen and this year, it's heading back out on a UK Tour, as well as closing up shop in London's West End. To celebrate, I had a phone call with the show's writer Simon Stephens to talk about Curious Incident's success, his new play Nuclear War, his Royal Court podcast and much, much more...

Review: Kara Tointon stars in Patrick Hamilton's GASLIGHT, UK Tour

I very rarely warm to touring productions of shows - especially plays - simply because they never seem to be anywhere near the same kind of calibre as West End and other London shows. Plays are notorious for this in my mind, regularly seeming to lack by way of talent and production value, but the current UK tour of Gaslight is an exception to the rule.

Review: Mischief Theatre's PETER PAN GOES WRONG, Television Broadcast

Mischief Theatre are taking the World by storm at the moment. With three successful West End plays all currently running, a UK tour and an up-coming Broadway transfer on their hands, they're a company not to miss. But this latest addition to their wealth of shows is something very original: a BBC One adaptation of one of their plays, and it's its presentation that makes it so exciting.

Review: Ruth Wilson in Ivo Van Hove's HEDDA GABLER at the National Theatre, Lyttelton

Henrik Ibsen's plays are some of the best and most iconic works of theatre ever written, so when one of the greatest actresses of our time Ruth Wilson was paired with Ibsen's Hedda Gabler (in a new version by Patrick Marber) along with modern visionary director Ivo Van Hove for his first project at the National Theatre, it's no surprise that it became one of my most anticipated plays of the year.

Review: David Hare's THE RED BARN starring Mark Strong at the National Theatre, Lyttelton

When David Hare’s new production of The Red Barn was announced to be opening at the National Theatre last year, I was excited: Hare’s work constantly intrigues me and the idea of this murder-mystery-style thriller got me excited, so I was very disappointed when I left the Lyttleton Theatre after finally seeing the show feeling like the worst part about the show was the story itself.

Review: PETER PAN at the National Theatre, Olivier

Peter Pan at the National Theatre intrigued me so little that I initially didn’t intend on going to see it. Perhaps it’s the bitterness that still runs through my veins following wonder.land last year, but I really felt that this show was going to be over-hyped children’s theatre that I was going to truly loathe, but I’m pleasantly surprised to say that I was completely wrong.

Review: Peter Shaffer's AMADEUS at the National Theatre, Olivier

If you've heard anything about landmark plays from the National Theatre then you will have definitely heard about Peter Shaffer's 1979 play Amadeus which hit the West End and Broadway after its premiere run at the National, even winning itself a Tony for Best New Play. Now, almost 40 years later, a new production is back at the National and it's as glamorous and lavish as ever.

My 10 Most Anticipated Theatre Openings of 2017

While 2016 was a fantastic year for theatre, I really think that 2017 is going to be a superb year full of amazing talent and fantastic new and revived works. There's a lot of shows already slated to open next year so it took me a while to pull this list together, but I am so excited about what I do have down that I could squeal at any minute. Get this year started already!