Coming Soon To The West End, Facts And Rumours
| By Shaun Nolan
It’s always exciting to hear news that a show you’ve been dying to see for the longest time is making the jump across the pond and into the West End but for some unknown reason, it’s even more edge-of-your-seat exciting to hear that the production is trying to make its way over. That’s the case for a lot of shows and for some reason or another, some of them don’t ever end up making it over (who remembers when Newsies even held open dance auditions?), but some of them are so exciting that you can’t help but assume the deal is already done. Today, let’s look at some of those shows…
WAITRESS – Music and Lyrics by Sara Bareilles, Book by Jessie Nelson
If you aren’t familiar with the new pop-musical by Grammy Award-winner Sara Bareilles – which is taking the Broadway box office by storm every single week – then I seriously think you need to check if you’ve been living under a rock or not. This vibrant new musical is based on the 2007 indie movie of the same name about a woman called Jenna who works in a diner. Stuck in an abusive relationship, Jenna eventually falls pregnant and must battle the tribulations and joys that life comes to offer her. With a stunning new score by Bareilles and having been conceived by the first ever entirely female main creative team in Broadway history, this show is rumoured to be coming into London as soon as next Spring assuming that a suitable theatre is made available to them.
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH – Music and Lyrics by Stephen Trask, Book by John Cameron Mitchell
Hedwig was actually the first Broadway musical I ever saw and I’m more than proud to say so: not only was I deeply moved by the subject matter and execution, but I left the theatre feeling like I’d had both an amazing night out on the town as well as having learned a huge life lesson. Hedwig is presented as a concert held by Hedwig herself in a theatre she borrowed from a friend whose Broadway flop The Hurt Locker: The Musical closed the night beforehand. In this one-night-only concert, Hedwig and her friend Yitzhak present a musical retelling of Hedwig’s life and hardships she has faced to the sound of Stephen Trask’s incredible rock score (in my eyes, one of the best rock scores ever written for a musical). It was rumoured a long while ago that the recent Broadway revival would be returning to the West End as soon as this Winter, but we’ll have to hold out and see if this one comes along any time soon.
WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF – Written by Edward Albee
This one I am the most excited about: my favourite play of all time might be returning to the West End soon starring one of my favourite actresses of all time Imelda Staunton. Yup, it’s looking like it’s going to come true: The Olivier Award-winning star of Gypsy and Sweeney Todd could soon be returning to the London stage as the incredible Martha in this timeless Albee classic. I adore this play for everything about it and I can’t wait to see if Staunton really does take a turn in it. The play itself is presented in three acts with two ten-minute intervals and it looks at the marriage between Martha and George and how it’s fading as they age. One night, their much younger and very much in love colleagues from the University they work at make a surprise visit to their home and are hilariously dragged into the bitterness that the older couple are facing.
YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN – Music and Lyrics by Mel Brooks, Book by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan
One of my favourite forgotten musicals of recent times is the Mel Brooks tuner Young Frankenstein which was adapted for the stage around a decade ago on Broadway. The show looks at the town of Transylvania and the story of Frankenstein and parodies it for the stage. The original Broadway production starred big names like Sutton Foster, Megan Mullaly, Andrea Martin and Christopher Fitzgerald and it has so many fantastic characters that it would be wonderful to see how they’d cast it in the West End. It was announced last year that Mel Brooks was looking to further improve the musical in London’s West End because it’s his “best movie he’s ever made”, so it’ll be interesting to see if that dream ever comes to fruition.
PINOCCHIO – Written by Enda Walsh, Directed by John Tiffany
A musical that seems to have lost its momentum and may now become a distant memory is the Disney and National Theatre co-production of Pinocchio. Following the footsteps of other co-produced Disney musicals like the recent Hunchback of Notre Dame, the National Theatre announced last July that they’d acquired the rights to producing a stage musical of the classic Disney movie and had already appointed Enda Walsh to write the book and John Tiffany to direct. It seems like Tiffany got too busy with Harry Potter and the Cursed Child though as no information has been released about the show since and considering it was scheduled for a Christmas 2016 premiere and it’s not on the line-up, it’s looking unlikely. Maybe next Christmas, then?
THE KING AND I – Music and Lyrics by Rodgers & Hammerstein, Book by Oscar Hammerstein
In my eyes, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s best musical is probably The King and I and with the iconic movie turning 60 this year, it’s no surprise that the show was planning on making a return to the West End. In fact, last year’s Tony Award-winning Best Revival of the show was planning on coming into an ATG house with the production’s Tony Award-winning star Kelli O’Hara this Autumn, but the plans were seemingly dropped when the management was shaken up at ATG earlier this year. Perhaps the classic tuner will still make a debut next year, but it’s currently looking rather unlikely.
What rumours have you heard about shows flying into the West End? Tweet me and let me know at @shaunycat and @theatre_direct and we’ll be sure to include them in another edition.