As we reach the halfway stage between the 2014 and 2015 Olivier Awards, the judges must begin to consider which shows have, so far, made their claim for the coveted prize of Best New Musical.
Arguably, the show best primed for the prize is the Adelphi’s Kinky Boots. The musical originated on Broadway and transferred across the pond this August. The musical, set in Northampton, revolves around the unlikely friendship of Charlie, the reluctant new owner of Price and Sons shoe factory, and Simon, better known as the most fabulous drag queen, Lola. Harvey Fierstein’s book is hilarious and, despite the weakness of the opening number, Cyndi Lauper’s score is extraordinary. It would be no surprise either if Killian Donnelly (Charlie) and Matt Henry (Lola) were nominated for the Best Actor in a Musical category, nor Amy Lennox, (Lauren) for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical, whose 'The History of Wrong Guys' is undoubtedly the best number in the show.
Nevertheless, many critics' expected victor, Bend It Like Beckham cannot be ruled out. The musical, based on the 2002 film of the same name, has garnered 5 star reviews left right and centre. Charles Hart, lyricist for The Phantom of the Opera, partners musical genius composer Howard Goddall in creating a superb combination of the traditional musical sounds with those of Indian music.
Meanwhile, fresh from its run at the Menier Chocolate Factory, comes Close To You: Bacharah Reimagined. Opening at The Criterion in October, this musical, also an American import, features a multi-talented cast including visionary performer Kyle Riakbo. Directed by Steven Hoggett – one half of the Frantic Assembly team and movement director for Once, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and Blackwatch, the musical fuses Bacharah classics with inventive choreography in a way leading to wide critical praise.
Other late contenders include Damon Albarn’s collaboration with the National Theatre, Wonder.land, which was received favourably during its Manchester run. This innovative composition may yet prove a potential winner.
If I had to call it now I would put my money on Kinky Boots but if the panel elect to follow the British pedigree of Sunny Afternoon, last year's winner, then Bend It Like Beckham is undoubtedly due to be the winner.
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