(The Guardian readers’ article appeared 12/19 in that media; via Pam Green; Photo: ‘It managed to surpass my expectations’ … Davina De Campo in Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Photograph: The Other Richard.

This year readers saw some amazing theatre, provoking tears, recognition, anger, inspiration and awe.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Leeds Playhouse

I had been wanting to see Hedwig live for the better part of four years and it somehow managed to surpass my expectations. The atmosphere in the room during the first preview was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced, and I really hope it comes back next year as more people should get to see it. Ella Catherall, 22, Edinburgh


Traverse theatre, Edinburgh

From the beginning, this show was so funny and tender and shocking. I cackled with glee, the performers were fantastic, the writing was stunning, the use of music, the sound, the lights, the design – everything! As a theatre director (especially a sick director at the fringe) you can become desensitised to work and notice the container more than the story, or you don’t always leave plays as euphorically inspired as others. I voicenoted 10 friends immediately after the show because I desperately wanted them to share this experience. Stephanie Kempson, 35, Bristol

Magnolia Walls

Northern Stage, Newcastle upon Tyne

An amazing show that used testimonies from real military spouses to present a piece of theatre that gave a voice to a silent group of women who aren’t acknowledged or celebrated by the armed forces. Powerful storytelling. Sarah Dodd, 40, Northumberland

To Kill a Mockingbird

Gielgud theatre, London

This year it has to be, hands down, To Kill a Mockingbird. It was well worth the wait after the first run was postponed. Rafe Spall was brilliant as Atticus. It’s such a wonderful story and this production really did it justice (pardon the pun). I still get emotional when I think of the last line, “All rise”. Jenny Hughes, 52, Northamptonshire


Theatre Royal Bath

After an overwhelming and difficult year, watching this show by Dickie Beau helped restore my faith in humanity. It reminded me how beautiful humanity’s freakish obsession with sharing and creating stories really is. It reminded me how sympathetic humans are as creatures; we are all just tiny little specks in a massive confusing universe, and all we are trying to do is recognise and be recognised in return. This show honours that endeavour so cleverly and beautifully. Lorelei, 21, London

The Book Thief

Bolton Octagon

I knew the book but didn’t know what to expect from a musical adaptation – and it turned out to be superb. The songs worked well, the stage scenery and lighting were stunning on such a small stage. There was also a bit of puppetry, which was just beautiful. It was a standing ovation and floods of tears from me. This show should definitely tour. Jan, 48, Manchester


Hampstead theatre, London

I heard good things and went without knowing much about it. It’s an intimate, very moving show. The writing and directing were great, and the four players performed gracefully. One of the rare times where theatre really speaks to you and makes you part of it. Julio Roel, 50, NHS nurse, London

Whale of a Time

Alphabetti theatre, Newcastle upon Tyne

A beautiful story of two men, one old and one young, thrown together in the belly of a whale with no idea what connects them. It explores generational differences and how the world has changed in the north-east through a growing relationship between the two. It made me laugh out loud and sob my heart out. It stayed with me for a long time after. Ann Hunter, 54, Gateshead

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