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Aug 21

Theater Across the Pond in London’s West End

Today I thought I would dedicate a whole blog to the West End. We may have just entered our new Broadway season, but they’ve also got a whole new slew of important shows coming down the pipe-work across the pond. Plus, there’s a host of shows from last season that have been carrying Broadway buzz for a while.  So, here’s a sneak peak into the current state of the London theater scene, with my guesses as to what you’ll be seeing transferring over to us before long!

1) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
I’m sure you’ve heard of this new blockbuster show. Direction by Sam Mendes, score by Shaiman and Whitman, starring Douglas Hodge as Willy Wonka, and playing to capacity crowds at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane? Yup, this reworking-of-a-classic comes right on the heels of another Roald Dahl inspired success Matilda, and it’s a sure thing that we’ll see it on Broadway soon.  The reviews weren’t fantastic, but the tickets are selling!

2) Top Hat
I was lucky enough to catch this new musical based on a classic movie while I was in the UK.  Starring Gavin Lee of Mary Poppins fame, the show features a score by Irving Berlin (are you sold yet?), as well as a feast of comical characters, top hats, and ball gowns. Oh, and most importantly, tap shoes! Lots and lots of tap shoes! The show is fluff musical comedy heaven, and Tommy Tune is apparently considering its Broadway potential. My fingers are crossed…

3) The Bodyguard
This new musical hit is based off of the Whitney Houston film of the same, and features a score of Houston’s hits.  The show was praised by critics for it’s emotional punch and visual appeal, and there have been talks of Broadway for a few months now.  Starring Broadway headliner Heather Headley of Lion King and Aida fame, I don’t think anybody would be shocked to see a transfer in place.

4) Viva Forever
Well, with every hit comes a flop. Unfortunately, this was true for producer Judy Craymer. Craymer found a giant hit in the songs of ABBA and created Mamma Mia!but she was unable to make lightning strike twice.  This past year, her new musical featuring the music of the Spice Girls, Viva Forever, opened… and closed.  Between the bad ticket sales and dismal reviews, I don’t think we’ll be getting Viva’d anytime soon.

5) Miss Saigon
A helicopter on stage! That’s the image everybody remembers from Boublil and Schonberg’s epic musical, which Cameron Mackintosh is bringing back to the West End in a whole new production this season.  Casting has been going on for months, and one just has to wonder… are we going to have a new Lea Salonga? Regardless, Mackintosh plans to revive the show on Broadway as well, and I for one cannot wait!

6) Stephen Ward
Stephen Ward is Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new musical which will begin previews at the Aldwych Theatre this fall.  The story follows the “true victim of the Profumo Affair”, and is said to carry the intensity of a political thriller, with one of Webber’s most haunting scores to date.  If the piece lives up to the hype, I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw a Broadway transfer. Although… We’re still waiting for Love Never Dies

7) The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
The National Theatre, which brought us One Man, Two Guvnors, and War Horse, is at it again, with this new play based on the Mark Haddon novel of the same name.  The piece, which tells the story of a fifteen year old boy “detective” just picked up seven Oliviers, and is now booking as far as October 2014.  I would be shocked if Broadway wasn’t in the near future.

8) Merrily We Roll Along
If you know anything about Merrily We Roll Along, you probably know that it’s one of Stephen Sondheim’s flops.  Though many believe the score is one of his best, the book has always caused issues.  The show has been rewritten numerous times, but the new London Menier Chocolate Factory production is said to have finally gotten it right. Critics and audiences alike are praising the piece, and if a Broadway return is ever possible, this will be the time.  Though, no one seems to be discussing it, which can’t be too surprising.  The original production only ran for sixteen performances. Ouch.

9) I Can’t Sing- The X Factor Musical
Maybe they can’t sing, but I can’t lie… This concept makes me a bit queasy.  A musical. Produced by Simon Cowell. Based on a reality television show.  I’m yet to be convinced.  BUT, if the show happens to be as charming and hilarious as they are advertising, then who knows, it might turn around and become a surprise hit.  They’re certainly thinking big, with performances scheduled for the London Palladium, so perhaps Broadway is a goal.

10) Dirty Dancing
Dirty Dancing the Musical, not to be confused with Flashdance the Musical, has had Broadway plans since the stone age. But, every time it’s discussed, it seems to go on another tour!  Now, it’s wrapping up a UK tour right with a stop in the West End, at the Piccadilly Theatre.  At this point, anything can happen! The title seems like a natural fit for a musical, and audiences have been eating it up. So, perhaps we’ll finally see this show sometime soon.

Photo via Spy Hollywood

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