Podcast to Pimlico: Looking Back on 2016

I look forward to this moment every year, the moment where I get to sit down and look back on the year that’s gone by. Usually, the process of looking back is pretty quick because I feel like I haven’t done all too much, but this year is rather the opposite. I’ve done and achieved so much in 2016 that I wonder how in the World I even managed to fit it all in and that makes me very happy indeed.

My 2016

The year started the way most of my years do: with a theatre trip. Perhaps it’s best to get theatre talk out of the way so I don’t have to keep referencing it throughout this post. In 2016, I managed to make exactly 100 theatre trips which is actually insane and 67 of those trips were to see new shows. It’s an amazing feat if I do say so myself and it wasn’t at all my intention to reach that kind of ridiculous number but alas, I did and I’m kind of proud of it. Going into my third year of Shaun’s Musical Musings is incredibly exciting after the kind of great year that I’ve had this year. I’ve attended more press nights than ever, brushed shoulders with Elaine Paige and more on multiple occasions (!) and even had my reviews used as pull quotes on flyers across the country. It’s funny to think that so much success comes from SMM when I never consider it to even be a big success of mine, but I’m so proud of what it’s become over the years. If you’re interested in hearing about my favourite musicals, plays and performances of 2016 then you can find those lists on SMM right here.

The start of the year also saw our youngest family cat Casper be taken into what I like to call “Kitty Hospital”. Initially, we thought he’d been hit by a car in a nasty and strange way but months later, we came to realise that he had in fact been mauled by a fox. Unfortunately, his back left leg had to be amputated immediately and to discover if a fox had in fact attacked him, most of the hair on his back had to be shaved off. At first, he was a genuinely scary sight but as the months have gone on, he’s adapted to his disability very well (which I guess was going to happen considering he was barely even six months old when the attack happened). Your support at the time was very much appreciated and even my mother cracked a smile when I read her some of the lovely kind words. Thankfully, he’s a tyrant once again and we wouldn’t have him any other way!

April saw a few exciting things come to fruition for me. After a month or so of talks, I started writing a theatre column for a local magazine called Vale Life. I’ve always wanted to have a column and a theatre one seemed pretty fitting considering there wasn’t one in the magazine already. Every issue, I talk about the upcoming shows in the local area as well as what’s opening up in London’s West End. It’s great fun and it’s also been fantastic fun working with the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre this year, which I look forward to doing much more in 2017.

April also saw the Olivier Awards roll around and in a nice turn of events, I ended up covering the day of celebrations and the ceremony themselves live from Covent Garden on the London Theatre Direct Twitter account. I was the first person to write with London Theatre Direct back in 2014 so it was wonderful to see that opportunity extend into another space. I won’t lie, live-tweeting constantly is very stressful, but I had a fantastic time snapping pictures and tweeting away to my heart’s content. And while I did try to remain as professional as possible, I couldn’t help but start tweeting pictures of me as my ass started getting drenched in the torrential rain. All in a day’s work!

Going back to the idea of being published in a magazine, I got another big magazine break in May when I started working with Theatre & Performance Magazine. For their sixth issue, I wrote two cover articles, one being an interview with Carol Queen-Of-Broadway Channing and another being my review of Funny Girl at the Savoy Theatre starring Sheridan Smith (which was another fun press night to attend, of course). The magazine with my name on it was available to buy online as well as in many London theatres, Pineapple Dance Studios and even my favourite bookshop Foyles on Charing Cross Road. Seeing it on the shelf in Foyles was a real OMG moment and a highlight of this year.

I know it’s not necessarily a success story by any means but June saw the Three Musketeers reunite when my Aunt Alison visited from Sydney for a few weeks (FYI, The Three Musketeers comprise of myself, my Grandma and Alison… obvs). They were probably the best two weeks of my year because we always have so much fun; we all had a two week long sleepover at my Grandma’s house and had great conversations, great laughs and overall just a great time. It is never a dull moment when you’re surrounded by your bestest friends and I’m so lucky that mine also happen to be my blood relatives. More times like those in 2017, please.

Then the Summer rolled around and a bajillion fun things happened, mainly my walking tour. I got an email in early June talking about a new London walking tour hosted by Ian McKellen so I downloaded it and did it with the intention of reviewing it. Somehow, fast forward a month and I was hard at work on my own walking tour of London in collaboration with the company VoiceMap that produce these audio walking tours. I had to plan my route, find facts to talk about, script the piece, edit the walk in the computer, record my audio and everything. It was an incredibly long process and I can’t even begin to tell you how stressful the whole thing is, but it was unbelievably rewarding when July 23rd rolled around and a group of about 10 of us went and tried the walk out for ourselves. It was beyond weird to be guided around London by the sound of your own voice, but I was so pleased that it turned out to be a success. And it’s also so nice to hear so many of you say you’ve enjoyed doing it, too! If you want to read more about it, there’s more information here.

Summer also saw our school winning the Rock Challenge Southern Premiere Finals (let’s hope we can do that again this year!) as well as my taking part in a community production of The Little Mermaid, a trip to the Edinburgh Fringe, trips to Brighton and Legoland with my sister, and even my Shaun’s Summer Stranka Summer garden party with my friends. All around the launch of my walking tour, that was a whirlwind few weeks of madness where I literally went from one tip of England to the other in the space of a week. It was probably one of the best Summers of my entire life, especially the trip to Edinburgh, and I’ll never forget it.

Then September rolled around and we all know what happened then… Opening Doors! Probably my biggest and favourite achievement of 2016 was the launch and first series of my podcast Opening Doors with Shaun Nolan. I’ve been in love with podcasts for years and this year, I decided it was my time to give it a go. It was a roaring success and I thank all of you from the bottom of my heart for being so supportive and listening along every week. I cannot wait to get going with series two as soon as January rolls around and get new episodes to you for the Spring. If you haven’t already, you can find out more about Opening Doors and listen to it for yourself on the website.

Other than all of that, I’ve managed to have a reasonably relaxed final month of the year. Maybe apart from our school production of The Phantom of the Opera and my Christmas party that I was planning, but it’s been relaxing nonetheless. I look back on everything I’ve just written and I think “shit, I have actually done so much” and I’m so glad that I have. I said to myself last year that I refuse to waste any time in dreaming of doing stuff this year and instead, just get shit done and I like to think I’ve done just that.

Looking forward into 2017, I’m excited to announce my major new project on New Year’s Day at 7pm. Make sure you’re all over my Twitter and Instagram as per usual to get all of the deets. I think this might be the biggest thing I’ve ever worked on in my entire life and I guess the fact I’ve been working on it for two months is a testament to that, but I’m excited to get it up and running this year along with many other amazing and exciting things.

If 2016 is anything to go by then 2017 is going to be absolutely phenomenal and full of even more exciting opportunities. This year might well have looked like I’ve been in the driver’s seat with my foot on accelerate, but that’s nothing in comparison to how full speed I’m going to be getting in 2017: no rest for the Wicked! But I think I’m going to have to take a nap first.

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