FEATURE: Broadway Musicals Take The West End By Storm
| By Andrew Tomlins
Broadway is well known for creating some of the biggest and most successful musicals in theatrical history. Shows transfer between Broadway and the West End all the time, and the West End is currently home to a wide range of Broadway hits.
With several Broadway musicals opening in London over the coming months, 2015 looks set to continue the trend. Rehearsals have now begun for Beautiful – The Carole King Musical. The Tony Award winning musical, which is based on the early life and career of legendary singer/songwriter Carole King, kicked up a storm when it opened in New York last year. The show opens at the Aldwych Theatre on 24th February 2015 (previews from 10th February).
Gypsy, which first premiered on Broadway in 1959, is returning to the West End in March when Jonathan Kent’s Chichester Festival Theatre production transfers to the Savoy Theatre. Imelda Staunton is set to star as Momma Rose – a character which has been played by some of theatre’s most iconic stars including Angela Lansbury, Patti LuPone and Bernadette Peters. The musical opens on 15th April 2015 (previews from 28th March).
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown officially opens at the Playhouse Theatre next week (12th January 2015) following several weeks of previews. David Yazbek and Jeffrey Lane’s musical originally opened on Broadway in 2010 to a mixed response. However, the piece has been re-worked for its West End run. The script has been edited whilst new musical numbers have been written. The London cast is led by Tamsin Greig and Haydn Gwynne.
Finally, Sweeney Todd is once again returning to London. Bryn Terfel and Emma Thompson will star in a semi-staged concert version at the London Coliseum for just thirteen performances between 30th March and 12th April, following its brief run at the Lincoln Center in New York last year. Sondheim’s iconic score features the numbers ‘The Ballad of Sweeney Todd’, ‘Not While I’m Around’, ‘A Little Priest’ and ‘Pretty Women’.
Elsewhere, many of the West End’s long running musicals originally came to the West End from Broadway. Jersey Boys, one of London’s most popular musicals, first opened on Broadway in 2005 before transferring to the West End in 2008. Telling the true story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, Jersey Boys has now won 55 major awards and been seen by over 20 million people worldwide! The London production runs at the Piccadilly Theatre.
Meanwhile, everyone is talking about Memphis which is blowing audiences away eight times a week at the Shaftesbury Theatre. The production stars Killian Donnelly and Beverley Knight who are both sensational in their leading roles. Audiences also continue to rave about The Book of Mormon and Wicked which can be seen at the Prince Of Wales and Apollo Victoria Theatres.
2015 marks your last chance to see several Broadway musicals in the West End; Once closes at the Phoenix Theatre on 21st March, The Scottsboro Boys concludes its run at the Garrick Theatre on 21st February 2015 and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels completes its season at the Savoy Theatre on 7th March.