Urinetown, Made In Dagenham & Memphis Bring Fresh Excitement To The West End + More #WestEndUpdate
| By Andrew Tomlins
October is proving to be the most exciting month of the year so far; with new shows opening left, right and centre we are simply spoilt for choice. There really is something for everyone.
Last week I attended the press night of Urinetown’s West End transfer to the Apollo Theatre. I loved Jamie Lloyd’s production during its run at the St James Theatre, but somehow the show has managed to improve and is now stronger than ever. From what I have heard, there is a special buzz in the air at each and every performance – audiences are going mad for this show.
Urinetown is certainly the best musical I have seen in the West End all year. It is unmissable. The show looks into how the world would cope if we lost the privilege to pee, with those who break the rules being sent to Urinetown. The musical doesn’t take itself too seriously, making fun of its title as well as musical theatre in general.
Its satirical humour makes Urinetown stand apart from anything the West End has seen in years. The cast perform stand out song after song whilst giving stellar performances. As long as you are prepared to be open minded and are up for seeing something totally different, I couldn’t recommend Urinetown more highly.
Last week I used a rare night off to catch up with King Charles III which has transferred to the West End’s Wyndham’s Theatre. Mike Bartlett’s new play is incredibly clever, showing what could possibly happen when Prince Charles becomes King. The piece is witty and smart, with a remarkable performance coming from Tim Pigott-Smith in the title role. The show recently extended its run, so you have until Saturday 31st January 2015 to catch it.
King Charles III is directed by the Almeida Theatre’s Artistic Director Rupert Goold whose production of Made In Dagenham began previews at the Adelphi Theatre last week. Based on the hit British film, the new musical comedy has just over three weeks left of previews until its opening night on Wednesday 5th November 2014. The show, which stars Gemma Arterton, looks set to become the biggest new musical of the year.
Also in previews is Memphis at the Shaftesbury Theatre. The musical, which was a huge hit on Broadway where it picked up four Tony Awards in 2010, has a Grammy Award-winning original score by Bon Jovi founding member David Bryan. The West End premiere is led by Beverley Knight who joins the cast fresh from her acclaimed stage debut in The Bodyguard.
Knight is joined by West End regular Killian Donnelly who has starred in Billy Elliot, The Commitments, The Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables. Knight and Donnelly have two of the finest voices in musical theatre, to have them starring opposite each other in the same show is quite something. Memphis officially opens on Thursday 23rd October 2014.
It was recently announced that international Wicked star Jennifer DiNoia will take over as Elphaba in the musical’s West End production at the Apollo Victoria Theatre from Monday 27th October 2014 for a limited run. It has now been confirmed that Emma Hatton – who is currently standby Elphaba in the show – will take on the role full-time after DiNoia leaves. The West End’s latest green girl defies gravity eight times a week from Monday 2nd February 2015.
Original British Elphaba Kerry Ellis, who recently returned to Wicked, continues her celebrated performance until Saturday 25th October 2014. The producers of Wicked are currently spoiling us with talent; I can assure you that regardless of whether you see Ellis, DiNoia or Hatton as Elphaba over the next few months you are in for a treat!
In other news, Neville's Island at the Duke of York’s Theatre and East Is East at Trafalgar Studios have both begun their West End runs. Producers of Once have revealed the show will end its run at the Phoenix Theatre on 21st March 2015. The Daily Mail have suggested that the musical adaptation of Bend It Like Beckham will begin performances at the Phoenix next spring, but please note this is yet to be officially confirmed.