THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW (6th Revival) London run: Comedy Theatre, January 4th – 27th Music & Lyrics: Richard O’Brien Director: Christopher Luscombe Choreographer: Jenny Arnold Musical Director: Simon Beck
Photo by Eric Richmond
Cast: Brian Capron/Steve Pemberton/Danny Baker (Narrator), David Bedella (Frank-n-Furter), Julian Essex-Spurrier (Rocky ), Matthew Cole (Brad), Suzanne Shaw(Janet), Iain Davey (Riff-Raff), Claire Parrish (Magenta), Kay Murphy (Columbia), Nathan Amzi (Eddie/Dr Scott) Back in the West End, for the seventh time—again for a short run prior to the eternal tour!
See original production: Theatre Upstairs Royal Court), June 1973; Transferred to the Comedy Theatre, April 1979; 1st revival: Piccadilly Theatre, July 1990; 2nd revival: Duke of York’s, June 1994; 3rd revival: Duke of York’s May 1995; 4th revival: Victoria Palace, April 1999 5th Revival: Queen’s Theatre, June 2003
POSTCARDS FROM GOD – The Sister Wendy Musical London run: Jermyn Street Theatre, January 10th – February 3rd Music & Lyrics: Marcus Reeves & Beccy Smith Director: Omar F. Okai Musical Director: Heather Weir Cast: Myra Sands (Sister Wendy), Andrea Miller (Mother Ruth), Louise Hollamby (Sister Amelia), Catherine Millson (Coz), Juliet Gough (Brandy Le Brun/Daniel)
Story: Sister Wendy Beckett is a real-life nun of the Order of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. An amateur art critic, she became somewhat of a media sensation in the nineties with her television documentaries on art-appreciation and the history of painting. This musical show was a kind of camp spoof of her life, contrasting her cloistered origins as a Catholic hermit with her appearances on USA TV chat shows and such pronouncements as “God made pubic hair just as he made head hair”. The fictional story has her colluding with Daniel, a TV producer, initially deceiving Mother Ruth her reverend mother, reuniting with an elderly and ailing cousin, gaining international celebrity, appearing on Comic Relief, but finally deciding to return to the cloisters. Along the way the show is able to parody musicals like “Superstar” and “Sound of Music”, to make jokes about modern artists, and satirise the TV industry and instant celebrity. Notes: “Postcards from God” began as a series of cabaret performances at the Battersea Arts Centre in 2004. The all-woman cast play numerous roles ranging from persons depicted in the paintings to contemporary television journalists and chat-show hosts. It earned a distinctly mixed critical reception.
Juliet Gough & Myra Sands
Photo by Tristram Kenton
Songs: A Passion for Poussin, Salomé and St John, Sister Wendy’s Rap (ture), The Campbell’s Canned Soup Man, Porcelain, Nighthawks, Art is Meant for Everyone.
A MODEL GIRL London run: Greenwich Theatre, February 2nd – 24th Music & Lyrics: Richard Alexander & Marek Rymaszeweski Book: Geoff Case & Chloe Moss Additional music & lyrics: Robin Millar, Duncan Browne, Dominic King & Nick Sykes Director: Ruth Carney Choreographer: Nichola Treherne Musical Director: Steve Hill Cast: Emma Williams (Christine), Dale Rapley (Jack), James Clyde (Stephen), Lorraine Bruce (Maureen), Jeni Hicks, Victoria Kruger, Lee Reynolds, Laura Selwood, Mark Oxtoby, Stuart Nurse, David Ricardo-Pearce, Graham Bryan Songs: Mesmerised, When the Morning Comes, Vile Bodies Story: The plot is based on the true story of an infamous affair between a Emma Williams as Christine Keeler government minister, John Profumo, and a good-
time girl, Christine Keeler. Christine, a beautiful girl from a poor Home Counties background comes to London as a teenager in 1961 and quickly bewitches high society with her intoxicating blend of beauty and naïve charm. Taken under the wing of Stephen Ward, a socialite who arranges female company for men of influence in government circles – with the covert knowledge of MI5 – she ends up at the centre of a love triangle with the married War Minister, John Profumo, and a Russian spy, Yevgeny Ivanov. With its heady cocktail of sex, politics, guns and espionage, the Profumo Affair of 1963 became Britain’s first tabloid scandal. The cost was considerable for all concerned. Ward, charged with living off immoral earnings, committed suicide on the last day of his trial. Keeler was sent to prison for nine months for perjury. Profumo resigned and left politics. Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, his credibility damaged, his health failing, stepped down soon afterwards. Notes: The much-praised musical score re-created the various styles of the era, with big-band swing, jazz blues and ska, and early rock’n’roll and pop. The story was a fascinating one, all the more gripping since it was based on real-life. It suffered from a low-budget staging, but generally the critics welcomed it as an ambitious, original new British musical.
DAYS OF HOPE (1st Revival) London run: King’s Head, March 21st – April 22nd Music & Lyrics: Howard Goodall Book: Renata Allen Director: Russell Labey Musical Director: Kelvin Thomson
Photo by Phil Matthews
Cast: David Burt (Carlos), Siobhan McCarthy (Maria), Aimie Atkinson (Sofia), Simon Thomas (Stanley), Victoria Yeates (Teresa), James Russell (Pablo), Matt Cross (José) Howard Goodall’s musical telling sad stories of the Spanish Civil War was having its first revival in 17 years. As before, its solemnity and slogans worked against it, and it was felt its tragic stories were sentimentalised by the musical format. Original London production: Hampstead Theatre, April 1991 Matt Cross
CAN CAN (2nd Revival) London run: Lilian Baylis Theatre, Sadler’s Wells, April 1st (4 successive Sundays) Music & Lyrics: Cole Porter Book: Abe Burrows Director: Ian Marshall-Fisher Musical Director: Mark Etheridge Producer: Lost Musicals Season. Cast: Valerie Cutko (La Mome Pistache), Fabio Tassone (Paul) , Christopher Dickins (Aristide Forestiere), James Vaughan (Boris), Selina Chilton (Claudine), Sarah Applewood, Joanna Fell, Lara Denning, Stewart Permutt, Chris Stanton, David Phipps-Davis, Myra Sands, Ahmet Ahmet, Alex Browne This was a semi-staged version of the original production (not the Julian More adaptation which had been staged at the Strand in 1988) presented as part of the Lost Musicals season at Sadler’s Wells. Notes: See Original London production: Coliseum, October 1954 First revival: Strand Theatre, October 1988
A KARAOKE WEDDING London run, Union, April 5th – 21st Music & Lyrics: Harry Blake Book: John Hilton Director-Choreographer: Gabby Vautier Musical Director: Harry Blake Cast: Alice Keedwell (Bernadette), Russell Morton (Dave), Jamie Richards (Chas), Leanne Jones (Clara), Stephen Glover (Father O’Loughlin), Pearl Marsland.
Notes: This was a “happy ever after” satire, staged in a Brechtian way, with placards announcing various stages in the action. Because of this, the production itself was felt to be a bit odd, but overall it was regarded as a jolly romp in the “Carry On” style.
Photo by Stagephoto
Story: Bossy Bernadette has won an all-expenses wedding in a competition, and bullies her gormless boyfriend, Dave, to set the date for the “perfect wedding”. The bridesmaid will be her overweight and lecherous sister, Clara, and the best man will be the reluctant Chas, whilst the ceremony will be performed by the camp vicar, Father O’Loughlin. However, a “perfect” occasion is threatened by a nagging mother, a disastrous hen and a stag night, conflicting advice from already married relatives, and a comic climax where the best man’s inflatable doll deflates whilst the bridesmaid eats her marzipan dildo.
MENOPAUSE THE MUSICAL London run: Shaw Theatre, April 18th (101 performances) Music & Lyrics: Jeanie Linders Director: Michael Larson Choreographer: Patty Bender Musical Director: Alan Plado Cast: Miquel Brown (Power Woman), Samantha Hughes (Soap Star), Su Pollard (Rutland Housewife), Amanda Symonds (Earth Mother) Songs: Change Change Change, Stayin’Awake-Night Sweatin’, My Husband Sleeps Tonight, The Great Pretender, Puff My God I’m Draggin’, My Thighs, Good Vibrations. Story: Four women meet while shopping for lingerie at Marks & Spencer, and proceed to sing 25 songs about chocolate cravings, hot flushes, loss of memory, nocturnal sweats, and sexual predicaments. The lyrics parody popular music from the 1960s, with notable numbers "Stayin' Awake" (Being Alive). “My Thighs (My Guy) “I’m Having a Hot Flush” (Heat Wave) and "Puff, My God I'm Draggin'." The four women represent an ordinary provincial housewife, a successful business woman, a TV star, and a mother figure – all experiencing “the change” Notes: The show originated in a 76 seat theatre in Florida in 2001, and opened off-Broadway in April 2002, running for four years and more than 1500 performances. It then had productions in cities all over America and in many different countries throughout the world. Local references in the show were changed to suit its particular location (Bloomingdales became Marks & Spencer, and so on.) In the USA the show developed a cult following and became known for its contributions to the fight against ovarian cancer, for raising awareness of menopause-related issues, most notably through the creation of the Jeanie Linders Fund. Donations toward the fund are collected at performances of the show through the sale of souvenir "hot flush fans." However, in London, the show was slaughtered by the critics, with comments like: “The script makes ‘Are You Being Served’ sound as if it was written by George Eliot”; “woefully cheap and contrived”, “so palpably poor it is not worth getting one’s knickers in a twist”, “insulting drivel”, “Do yourself a favour: stay away”.
ON THE TOWN (2nd Revival) London run: Coliseum, April 21st – May 22nd (Fixed season)
Photo by Tristram Kenton
Music: Leonard Bernstein Lyrics & Book: Betty Comden & Adolph Green Director: Jude Kelly Choreographer: Stephen Mear Musical Director: Simon Lee Producer: English National Opera Cast: Helen Anker (Ivy Smith), Caroline O’Connor (Hildegarde Esterhazy), Lucy Schauffer (Clair DeLoon), Ryan Molloy (Ozzie), Joshua Dallas (Gabey), Sean Palmer (Chip Offenbloch), Andrew Shore/Graeme Danby (Judge), Janine Duvitski (Lucy), June Whitfield (Madame Dilly), Rodney Clarke (Master of Ceremonies), Alison Jiear, Julia Hinchcliffe Notes: In 2005 when this revival was first staged, there was some fuss about whether the country’s National “opera” should be presenting a Broadway “musical”. Any doubts were answered by sell-out shows and the ENO having to stage extra performances to meet the demand for tickets. This was a straight-forward revival of that earlier success, with some cast changes – especially the three principal sailors, and the introduction of June Whitefield into the small but telling role as the deliciously tipsy Madame Dilly. One or two critics continued to moan about the suitability of this show at an “opera house”, but overall it was highly praised and once more a total sell-out. Original London production: Prince of Wales. May 1963 First revival: Coliseum, March 2005
THE THING ABOUT MEN London run: King’s Head, April 30th – June 3rd Music: Jimmy Roberts Book & Lyrics: Joe di Pietro Director: Anthony Drewe Choreographer: Nick Winston Musical Director: Simon Sharp Photo by Marilyn Kingwill
Cast: Paul Baker (Man), Tiffany Graves (Woman), Hal Fowler (Tom), Nicola Dawn (Lucy), Tim Rogers (Sebastian) Songs: Oh What a Man!, No Competition for Me, Opportunity Knocking, Free Easy Guy, Downtown Bohemian Slum, The Better Man Won, Make Me a Promise Thomas, Time to Go Home Story: A New York love triangle showing the extreme lengths men will go to keep their love affairs and pride Nicola Dawn & Tim Rogers intact. Tom discovers that his wife, Lucy, is having an affair with a Bohemian artist called Sebastian. He also discovers that Sebastian is advertising for a flatmate to share his loft apartment – so Tom, pretending to be someone called Milo, manages to move in with Sebastian to find out exactly what is going on. Farce ensues when Lucy unexpectedly turns up, forcing Tom to put on a gorilla mask as a disguise. Eventually the truth is revealed, at which point Lucy returns to Tom, impressed by the lengths to which he will go to win her back, and Tom and Sebastian end up as best buddies following their male bonding. (Numerous other parts – a priest, a Mexican cabbie, a maitre d’, an actress and starlet, etc – are played by two characters called “Man” and “Woman”.) Notes: Based on the 1985 German film “Männer” by Doris Dörrie, this show (written by the same team that created “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change”) premiered in Sacramento, California in 2002. It ran off-Broadway for eight months in 2003, and won a New York Outer Critics Circle Award. The piece was revised and re-orchestrated for its London premiere, but did not create much of an impression on the critics nor audiences alike.
SIDE BY SIDE BY SONDHEIM (4th Revival)
Photo by Alastair Muir
London run: Venue, May 1st – July 14th Music: Stephen Sondheim & others Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim Director: Hannah Chissick Choreographer: Adam Cooper Musical Director: Michael Haslam/Dean Austin Cast: Alasdair Harvey, Josie Walker, Abbie Osmon; Narrators: Barry Cryer, Les Dennis, Angela Rippon, Christopher Cazenove Notes: With alternating narrators and some interesting low-key choreography from Adam Cooper – involving a lot of moving of stools! – this was yet another successful revival. One critic ascribed its success to the fact that this is “Sondheim with the difficult bits cut out”. Original London run: Mermaid Theatre, May 1976 First revival: Greenwich Theatre, July 1997 Second revival: Upstairs at the Gatehouse, May 2005 Third revival: Union, November 2005
FAME (4th Revival)
Photo by Tristram Kenton
London run: Shaftesbury Theatre, May 8th (135 performances) Music: Steve Margoshes Lyrics: Jacques Levy Book: David de Silva & Jose Fernandez Director: Karen Bruce Choreographer: Lars Bethke Musical Director: John Gladstone Smith Cast: Ian H Watkins (Nick Piazza), Natalie Casey (Serena Katz), Fern Belling (Mabel), Natalie Kennedy(Carmen), Geroge Maguire, Desi Valentine, Danielle Cato, Matthew Thomas, Kevin McGuire, Natalie Hope, Michael Gyngell, Jacqui Dubois, Phil Cole, Emma Francis Back in the West End for the fifth time, this revival was almost universally condemned: “A shoddy, shameless spinoff. . . when you’re being charged £55 for a seat in the stalls you expect more than a glorified gym show” (D. Telegraph); “How on earth anything so slipshod and fourth-rate ever found a berth in Shaftesbury Avenue is mystifying” (Times). It was booked into the Shaftesbury as a four month filler while “Hairspray” was being planned. Original London Production: Cambridge Theatre , June 1995 1st revival: Victoria Palace, November 1997; 2nd revival: Prince of Wales, October 1998 3rd revival: Victoria Palace, September 2000 (transfer: Cambridge, Sept 2001 – August 2002) (transfer: Aldwych , Sept 4th 2002 – April 2006)
FIDDLER ON THE ROOF (3rd Revival) London run: Savoy Theatre, May 29th (279 performances) Music: Jerry Bock Lyrics: Sheldon Harnick Book: Joseph Stein Director: Lindsay Posner Choreographer: Jerome Robbins (re-produced by Sammy Dallas Bayes) Additional Choreography: Kate Flatt Musical Director: Jae Alexander
This production originated in Sheffield in December 2006, and was highly praised with almost all the critics heralding Henry Goodman as a truly great Tevye. One or two dissenters found his performance over the top (“like watching Spike Milligan on speed” – The Spectator) but all agreed the production itself was an excellent one. It ran for eight months, closing on January 26th 2008. Notes: See original London production, Her Majesty's, February 1967 First revival: Apollo Victoria June 1984 Second revival: London Palladium, June 1994 Victor Maguire & Henry Goodman
Photo by Catherin Ashmore
Cast: Henry Goodman (Tevye), Beverley Klein (Golde), Julie Legrand (Yente), Victor Maguire (Lazar Wolf), Damian Humbley (Perchick), Frances Thorburn (Tzeitel), Gareth Kennerley (Motel), Natasha Broomfield (Chava), Alexandra Silber (Hodel), Tomm Coles, Juliet Alderdice, Michael Conway
AROUND THE WORLD London run: Lilian Baylis Theatre, June 10th (4 successive Sundays) Music & Lyrics: Cole Porter Book: Orson Welles Director: Ian Marshall Fisher Musical Director: Steve Edis Producer: Lost Musicals Season
Cast: Jack Klaff (Inspector Fix), Brian Torfeh (Passepartout), Valerie Cutko (Missus Aouda), Valda Aviks (Molly Muggins), Peter Gale (Phileas Fogg), Michael Roberts, Peter Kenworthy, Richard Stemp Songs: Look What I Found, There He Goes Mr. Phileas Fogg, Mee-Rah-Lah, Suttee Procession, Suez Dance, Sea Chantey, Should I Tell You I Love You, Pipe Dreaming, Oka Saka Circus, California Scene Dance, If You Smile at Me, Wherever They Fly the Flag of Old England, Snag Tooth Gertie. Story: Phileas Fogg, a bachelor of means and exact habits, bets London's Whist Club that he can travel around the world in eighty days. Accompanied by his Yankee valet, Pat Passepartout, and Missus Aouda, an Indian maiden, and pursued by Pat's Irish girlfriend Molly, they travel to Paris, Madrid, Brindisi, Suez, Bombay, Calcutta, Hong Kong, California, the Rocky Mountains, and New York before returning to London and winning the wager. Throughout the journey they are also pursued by Inspector Fix, the dogged Scotland Yard policeman who trails Fogg in the mistaken belief that he is carrying a large quantity of cash from a bank robbery. Notes: Orson Welles conceived his musical version of Jules Verne’s “Around the World in 80 Days” as a theatrical spectacular. With songs by Cole Porter and a stage filled with magicians, tumblers and fireworks, it opened in New York on May 31, 1946 following a short try-out in Boston, New Haven and Philadelphia. Orson Welles himself played Phileas Fogg. It ran for just 75 performances on Broadway. This present concert version of the show was its first ever revival and, although lacking in spectacle, it did provide a glimpse of what Welles had in mind. In the original a series of silent movies were shown to depict the more exotic spots on the journey, but in this revival each of the scenes was described from a script specially written by the late Dick Vosburgh. Porter’s songs are not his greatest, though the ballads “Should I Tell You I Love You” and “Look What I Have Found” certainly are hummable. There’s a couple of novelty songs - “Snag Tooth Gertie” and “Whenever They Fly the Flag of Old England” - and the songwriter’s skill includes finding a rhyme for Fogg’s first name: “That smart Mr. Phileas, so Piccadilly-dillyous.” But Porter wrote “Kiss Me Kate” the next year, and the songs from “Around the World” were soon forgotten.
THE DROWSY CHAPERONE
Photo by Catherine Ashmore
London run: Novello Theatre, June 6th (69 performances)
THE DROWSY CHAPERONE London run: Novello Theatre, June 6th (69 performances) Music & Lyrics: Lisa Lambert & Greg Morrison Book: Bob Martin & Don McKellar Director-Choreographer: Casey Nicholaw Musical Director: John Rigby Cast: Bob Martin (Man in Chair), Elaine Paige (Drowsy Chaperone), Anne Rogers (Mrs Tattendale), Nickolas Grace (Underline), John Partridge (Robert Martin), Sean Kingsley (George), Nick Holder (Feldzeig), Joseph Alessi (Adolpho), Selina Chilton (Kitty), Summer Strallen (Janet), Enyonam Gbesemete (Trix), Adam Stafford, Cameron Jack Songs: Fancy Dress, Cold Feets, Show Off, As We Stumble Along, I Am Adolpho, Accident Waiting to Happen, Toledo Surprise, Message from a Nightingale, Bride’s Lament, Love is Always Lovely in the End, I Do I Do in the Sky Story: In his drab apartment a man in a chair tells the audience of his obsession with cast recordings of musicals from the past. His all-time favourite, “The Drowsy Chaperone” from 1928, is the story of Janet, star of “Feldzieg’s Follies”, who plans to quit the show to marry oil tycoon, Robert Martin. However, this will bankrupt Fekldzieg, who hires Aldolpho, a bumbling Latin Lothario, to seduce Janet and spoil her relationship with Robert. The rest of the story includes an unflappable English butler, an absent-minded dowager, a dizzy chorus girl, a harried best man, and Janet's "drowsy" (i.e. “drunken”) chaperone. As he plays the LP, his apartment is “invaded” by characters from the show and bits of scenery fly in to create scenes from the show. . When it comes to the interval he changes records (ostensibly preparing the gramophone to play the second act), and leaves "to use the bathroom". But the new record is actually the second act of a different musical – “Message from a Nightingale” set in Imperial China, with the performers displaying clichéd Chinese accents and mannerisms. A whole new set of characters and scenery take over until the Man returns and replaces the disc with the correct one for Act II of The Drowsy Chaperone. Notes: Originally staged at the Toronto Fringe Festival in 1998, the show was re-worked the following year for a 160 seat non-profit theatre, and then in 2001 enlarged for a full-scale version at Toronto's Winter Garden Theatre. It was revived for Los Angeles in 2005, and that revision arrived on Broadway in May 2006, running for 674 award-winning performances. The Broadway team staged the West End production with Bob Martin recreating his Broadway role of "Man in Chair, and with Elaine Paige making her return to the West End after six years. In spite of mostly good notices and a score which was a delightful send-up and pastiche of period musicals, the show closed on August 4th after an eight week official run, and a few weeks of previews. After closure it received five nominations for Olivier Awards.
FROM THE HART London run: New End, June 12th – September 2nd Music: Richard Rodgers Lyrics: Lorenz Hart Book: John Kane & David Kernan Director: Caroline Clegg Choreographer: Richard Peakman Musical Director: Matthew Brind Cast: John Guerrasio (Lorenz Hart), Matthew Barrow, Lucy Kerans-Hunt, Louisa Maxwell, Peter Straker Songs: Blue Moon, My Funny Valentine, Ten Cents a Dance, The Lady is a Tramp , Manhattan, Little Girl Blue, Mountain Greenery and 23 other Rodgers & Hart songs. John Guerrasio & Peter Straker
Notes: More than just an anthology of Rodgers & Hart numbers, this show uses the device of bringing Lorenz Hart back from the grave to observe his hell-raising past with a wry smile. The show suggests that the pocket-size, self-destructive Jewish poet who drank himself to death suffered an unrequited passion for the heterosexual Richard Rodgers and that he was permanently conscious of his dwarfish unattractiveness. Hart’s wit, bravery, desperation for love and lyrical brilliance are all demonstrated as his songs are performed in an order that suggests his life-story. The show was much-praised by the critics, especially the touching performance of John Guerrasio.
London run: Linbury Studio, Royal Opera House. June 18th-30th Music & Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim Book: James Lapine Director-Choreographer: Will Tuckett Musical Director: Cast: Gary Waldhorn (Narrator), Beverley Klein (Witch), Peter Caulfield (Jack), Anne Reid (Jack’s Mother), Clive Rowe (Baker), Anna Francolini (Baker’s Wife), Gillian Kirkpatrick (Cinderella), Raphaelle Haldane (Rapunzel), Peter Caulfield, Anna Francolini & Clive Rowe Suzanne Toase (Red Riding Hood), Nicholas Garrett (Cinderella’s Prince/Wolf), Nic Greenshields (Rapunzel’s Prince), Louise Bowden (Florinda), Lara Pulver (Lucinda), Martin Nelson, Linda Hibberd, Byron Watson
Photo by Catherine Ashmore
INTO THE WOODS (2nd Revival)
This was a limited two week run, followed by 7 performances at the Lowry in Salford Quays, Manchester, directed by the Royal Ballet’s choreographer turned director, Will Tuckett. It was cast with a mix of opera singers and actors, with the Witch played by Beverley Klein (moonlighting from “Fiddler on the Roof” at the Savoy, where she was currently playing Golde) Notes: Original London Production: Phoenix Theatre, September 1990 First Revival: Donmar Warehouse, November 1998
THE LORD OF THE RINGS
Photo by Manuel Harlan
London run: Drury Lane, June 19th (454 performances)
THE LORD OF THE RINGS London run: Drury Lane, June 19th (454 performances) Music: A.R.Rahman & Värttinä with Christopher Nightingale Book & Lyrics: Shaun McKenna & Matthew Warchus Director: Matthew Warchus Choreographer: Peter Darling Musical Director: Richard Brown Cast: James Loye (Frodo), Peter Howe (Sam), Owen Sharpe (Pippin), Richard Henders (Merry), Malcolm Storry (Gandalf), Brian Protheroe (Saruman), Michael Therriault (Gollum), Laura Michelle-Kelly (Galadriel), Jerome Pradon (Strider/Aragorn), Rosalie Craig (Arwen), Kirsty Malpass (Rosie) Songs: 'Lasto i lamath', Springle Ring, The Road Goes On, Saruman, The Cat and the Moon, Flight to the Ford, The Song of Hope, Star of Eärendil, Lament for Moria, The Golden Wood, Lothlórien , The Siege of the City of Kings, Now and for Always, Gollum/Sméagol, The Song of Hope, The Final Battle, City of Kings. Story: Frodo Baggins, a junior Hobbit, and his chums, Sam, Pippin and Merry, are deputed by the good wizard, Gandalf, to undertake an epic journey to Mount Doom to dispose of the Evil Ring and deal with his brother, the evil wizard Saruman. Pursued by Gollum, a wretched, tormented, subterranean creature who can dimly remember when he, too, was once a happy, hairy-toed little Hobbit, they set off on their quest, meeting elves, dwarves and rangers on the way. They encounter sinister black riders and orcs, pass through Rivendell and the Golden Wood and ultimately do battle with the forces of the Dark Lord. Finally they manage to destroy the Ring. Other characters featured in the story are the mystical Lady Galadriel of Lothlorien; the longlost King Aragorn who defeats the Dark Lord and wins the hand of Arwen, who gives up her immortality in order to marry him; and the long-suffering Rosie, the beloved of Sam. Notes: The show originated in 2006 (at a cost of 30 million Canadian dollars) in Toronto, where it received a mixed critical response and ran for six months. The producers hoped to recoup the production costs and more with a London production. With 45 minutes knocked off the running time and a 50-strong cast, the West End production was a 3 hour long epic, requiring major excavation of the Drury Lane stage. The music was by A.R. Rahman (the composer of “Bombay Dreams”) and Värttinä ( a Finnish pop band) with some additions by Christopher Nightingale. It was a mix of folk-rock and Eastern mysticism. The settings, designs, acrobatics and effects were unbelievably spectacular, with magnificent puppetry in the form of huge horses and a gigantic spider. The battle scenes and the aerial work were brilliantly staged, described by one critic as “more theme park than musical”. It had an unlucky start when two days of previews were cancelled following an accident to Adam Salter, one of the swings in the show, leading (inevitably) to a lot of bad publicity about “Elf and Safety!).
Photo by Manuel Harlan
In spite of praise for its production (and overwhelming praise for Michael Therriault as Gollum), most of the critics gave it a savage mauling, describing the dialogue as ludicrously stilted, the plot as incomprehensible, the music as unmemorable and clichéd. The Sun pronounced it “Flawed of the Rings”, the Evening Standard compared it to “an extended interlude from the Eurovision Song Contest”, and “a folly, ill-fated at conception, tedious and vulgar in execution.” It survived for one year and 492 performances (38 previews and 454 official performances) but once the initial enthusiasm of Hobbit fans had faded, the show had clearly been nursed through months of poor business. The producers bowed to the inevitable, and the final curtain fell on July 19th 2008. Michael Therriault
KISMET (3rd Revival)
Photo by Tristram Kenton
London run: Coliseum, June 27th – 14th July (16 scheduled performances) Music: Alexander Borodin Lyrics: Roger Wright & George Forrest Book: Charles Lederer & Luther Davis Additional material: Kit Hesketh-Harvey Director: Gary Griffin Choreographer: Javier de Frutos Musical Director: Richard Hickox/Simon Lee Cast: Michael Ball (Poet), Sarah Tynan (Marsinah), Faith Prince (Lalume), Alfie Boe (Caliph), Donald Maxwell (Omar Khayyam), Graeme Danby (Wazir), Julian Curry (Jawan) , Dwayne Jones (Bangle Man), Rodney Clark (Chief of Police) This show was in trouble from the start. During rehearsals the choreographer had “creative differences” with the director and walked out; there were unsolved problems balancing the sound of an opera-house orchestra with a mixture of opera singers and musical theatre performers; and the irony and apparent poor taste of a musical set in the city of Baghdad at a time when the real place was beset with suicide bombers, death and terrible destruction. The show itself was considered unsuitable for an opera house, and in any case unworthy of revival. On the one hand Michael Ball was praised for being the only one in the show to perform with any life, and for “working his socks off to salvage this sorry enterprise” (Independent). On the other hand his performance was described as “irredeemably vulgar” (The Observer). Instead of “Baubles, Bangles and Beads” this show was “Boring, Bungled and Bland” (Daily Mail). It became something of a standing joke when Michael Ball himself, interviewed on TV, admitted the whole thing was a bit of a disaster. See Original London Production: Stoll Theatre, April 1955 First revival: Shaftesbury Theatre, March 1978; Second revival: Arcola, December 2003
Photo by Alastair Muir
SWEENEY TODD (7th Revival) London run: Royal Festival Hall, July 5th – 7th Music & Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim Book: Hugh Wheeler Director: David Freeman Choreographer: Denni Sayers Musical Director: Stephen Barlow Cast: Bryn Terfel (Sweeney Todd), Maria Friedman (Mrs Lovett), Daniel Boys (Anthony), Philip Quast (Judge Turpin), Steve Elias (Beadle) Emma Williams (Johanna), Daniel Evans (Tobias), Adrian Thompson (Pirelli), Rosemary Ashe (Beggar Woman) Accompanied by the London Philharmonia Orchestra, this was a semi-staged concert version performed in the newly refurbished Royal Festival Hall, combining the greatest Wagnerian voice of our age with one of the greatest West End performers of our time, and adding a thrilling chorus made up of students from the Guildford School of Acting. Unlike the earlier cut-down John Doyle version, this was given the full orchestral works. Bryn Terfel gave a hugely praised performance, as did Maria Friedman and the rest of the supporting cast. Accepting that a fully staged production is not possible in a concert hall, for many, this was a dream cast. See Original London production: Drury Lane Theatre, July 1980 1st revival: Half Moon Theatre, May 1985; 2nd revival: Cottesloe June /Lyttleton Dec 1993 3rd revival: Holland Park , June 1996; 4th revival: Sadler’s Wells, June 2002 5th revival: Royal Opera House, Dec 2003; 6th revival: Trafalgar Studios/Ambassadors, July 2004
2007 JOSEPH & THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT (8th Revival)
London run: Adelphi, July 17th (783 performances) Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber Lyrics: Tim Rice Director: Steven Pimlott Choreographer: Anthony van Laast Musical Director: Producer: Bill Kenwright
Cast: Lee Mead (Joseph), Preeya Kalidas (Narrator), Tom Gillies (Benjamin), Dean Collinson (Pharaoh), Stephen Tate (Jacob/Potiphar) This eighth West End revival was based on the 1991 Palladium production by Steven Pimlott, who had died earlier in 2007. Lee Mead had won the role of Joseph following the TV “search for a star” programme called “Any Dream Will Do”. The production ran until May 30th 2009. Photo by Tristram Kenton
See original London Production, Albery Theatre, Feb 1973 1st revival: Westminster Theatre, Nov 1978; 2nd revival: Westminster Theatre, Nov1979 3rd revival: Vaudeville Theatre, Dec 1981; 4th Revival: Royalty Theatre, Dec 1986 5th Revival: London Palladium, June 1991; 6th revival: Labatt’s Apollo, February 1996 7th revival: New London Theatre, March 2003
LADY BE GOOD (3rd Revival) London run: Open Air Regent’s Park, July 19th – August 25th Music : George Gershwin Lyrics: Ira Gershwin Book: Guy Bolton & Fred Thompson Director: Ian Talbot Choreographer: Bill Deamer Musical Director: Catherine Jayes Cast: Chris Ellis-Stanton (Dick Trevor), Kate Nelson (Suzie Trevor) , Rachel Jerram (Shirley Vernon), Hattie Ladbury (Josephine Vanderwater), Paul Grunert (J. Watterson Watkins), Giles Taylor (Bertie Bassett), Norman Bowman (Jack Robinson), Charlotte Warren, Thomas Padden, Steve Watts, Joseph Pitcher
Photo by Tristram Kenton
This was a re-creation of the same production staged by Ian Talbot at the Open Air Theatre fifteen years earlier. Original London production was at the Empire in April 1926. First revival: Saville Theatre, July 1968 Second revival: Open Air, July 1992 Rachel Jerram & Chris Ellis-Stanton
Photo by Tristram Kenton
London run: Menier Chocolate Factory, July 25th â€“ September 22nd Music: David Shire Lyrics: Richard Maltby Jr Book: John Weidman Director: Sam Buntrock Choreographer: Sam Spencer-Lane Musical Director: Caroline Humphris Cast: Elliot Levey (Orville Wright), Sam Kenyon (Wilbur Wright), Michael Jibson (Charles Lindbergh), Sally Ann Triplett (Amelia Earhart), Ian Bartholomew (George Putnam), Clive Carter (Otto Lillienthal), Christopher Colley (Richard Byrd), Ian Coningham, John Conroy, Helen French, Edward Gower, Kaisa Hammarlund, Liza Pulman
Sally Ann Triplett as Amelia Earhart
Songs: Equilibrium, Sky!, Throw it to the Wind, Lady in the Aeroplane, Lady Lindy, Sorry Mr Lindbergh, What Are We Doing Here?, Before the Dawn, Pfft!, The Farther You Go, The Landing
Story: The story is inspired by the early history of aviation, interweaving the lives of Orville and Wilbur Wright, Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart and her publisher George Putnam together with the German "Glider King", Otto Lielthal, and the English Commander, Richard Byrd. The separate but sympathetic quests of these famous figures have been linked together to create a musical collage of dream chasing . Wilbur and Orville squabble and scratch their heads, plagued by doubts at Kitty Hawk and worry about returning home to be mocked as eccentric failures; Charles Lindbergh faces ghosts from his past as the long hours pass during his Atlantic crossing; and Amelia Earhart makes history with her aerial exploits, risking disaster in her attempt to fly round the world and endangering her relationship with her publisher, George Putnam who finances her first transatlantic flight just to sell books and later pursues her hand in marriage. Notes: Maltby and Shire decided to have the premiere of their new musical at the Menier Chocolate Factory where it was greeted respectfully but without any great enthusiasm. The surreal elements, such as the cast sitting on top of stepladders and operating imaginary joysticks, tended to work against any true involvement with the characters and their dreams. However, with its period-feel songs and clever lyrics, it was generally considered a worthy, if not too exciting, effort. In a revised version, it had its American premiere in New Jersey in April 2010, again directed by Sam Buntrock.
CARMEN JONES (1st Revival)
Tsakane Valentine Maswanganyi as Carmen Jones
Photo by Tristram Kenton
London run: Royal Festival Hall, July 31st â€“ September 2nd
CARMEN JONES (1st Revival) London run: Royal Festival Hall, July 31st – September 2nd Music: Georges Bizet Lyrics: Oscar Hammerstein II Book: Based on the opera Director: Jude Kelly Choreographer: Rafael Bonachela Musical Director: John Rigby Producer: Raymond Gubbay
Notes: By placing the London Philharmonic Orchestra in a pit in the middle of the stage, this production obliged the performers to confine the action to a narrow perimeter, restricting the dramatic momentum and creating a musical-concert hybrid – neither a purely concert-version, nor a staged production. However, the quality of the performers more than compensated, and the overall critical verdict was favourable.
Photo by Alastair Muir
Cast: Tsakane Valentine Maswanganyi (Carmen), Andrew Clarke (Joe), Rodney Clarke (Husky Miller), Sherry Boone (Cindy-Lou), Andée-Louise Hypolite, Phillip Brown, Akiya Henry, John Moabi, Brenda Edwards, Roal Bell, Joe Speare, Yolanda Grant-Thompson
Tsakane Valentine Maswanganyi & Andrew Clarke
Original London Production: Old Vic, April 1991
FOOTLOOSE ( Return) London run: Playhouse, August 17th (123 performances) Music: Tom Snow Lyrics: Dean Pitchford Additional music: Eric Carmen, Sammy Hagar, Kenny Loggins & Jim Steinman Book: Dean Pitchford & Walter Bobbie Director- Choreographer: Karen Bruce Musical Director: Elliott Ware Cast: Tommy Sherlock (Ren), Nikki Belsher (Ethel), Julian Agnew (Rev Shaw Moore), Miria Parvin (Ariel), Lyn Paul (Vi Moore), Johnny Shentall, Giovanni Spano, Gemma O’Duffy, Sophia Normvete, Lisa Gorgin, Bob Harms, Joseph Prouse, Hugh Osborne
Photo by Ray Tang
Notes: Following its closure at the Novello Theatre in November 2006, the show went back on tour, opening in Salford in January 2007 and running until July. It then returned to London’s Playhouse Theatre in August for a second run, ending on December 1st. Original London production: Novello Theatre, April 2006 Tommy Sherlock as Ren
BUDDY (1st Revival) London run: Duchess Theatre, August 7th (631 performances) Music & Lyrics: Various Book: Alan Janes Director: Rob Bettinson Musical Director: John Banister Producer: Theatre Partners
Cast: Dean Elliott/Matthew Wycliffe (Buddy Holly), Lee Ormsby (Big Bopper), Miguel Angel (Ritchie Valens), Mike Lloyd, Greg Last, Nick Sayce, Sean Needham, Kerry James, Lucia Rovardi, Gavin Barnes, Tari Caple, Hayley Berkley Notes: This West End revival ran until February Lee Ormsby, Dean Elliott & Miguel Angel 7th 2009 ensuring that the 50th Anniversary of Buddy Holly's death was honoured on 3 February with a special performance incorporating several new numbers for that one night only. This revival, directed again by Rob Bettinson, was scaled down from its previous incarnations, with the role of Buddy Holly equally shared by Dean Elliott and Matthew Wycliffe. At the same time, a 50th Anniversary Tour played across the UK with Oliver Seymour-Marsh and Glen Joseph as Buddy. Original London Production: Victoria Palace, October 1989 (trans. Strand -ran for 13 years)
GREASE (5th Revival) London run: Piccadilly Theatre, August 8th (1,536 performances) Music & Lyrics: Jim Jacobs & Warren Casey Additional songs: Barry Gibb, John Farrar, Louis St Louis, & Scott Simon Director: David Gilmore Choreographer: Arlene Phillips (re-staged by Stori James) Musical Director: Richard Beadle Producer: Paul Nicholas & David Ian
Cast: Danny Bayne (Danny Zuko), Susan McFadden (Sandy), Jayde Westaby (Rizzo), Sean Mulligan (Kenickie), Lee Martin (Doody), Charlie Cameron (Marty), Alana Phillips (Frenchy), Bennett Andrews (Sonny), Laurie Scarth, Jason Capewell, Tim Newman, Siobhan Dillon, Marie Daly
See Original London production, New London Theatre, June 1973 1st revival, Astoria Theatre, June 1979 2nd revival: Dominion July 1993 (transfer Cambridge Oct 1996) 3rd Revival: Dominion Oct 2001 4th revival: Victoria Palace, October 2002
Photo by Alessandro Pinna
This had been the subject of yet another TV talentshow competition, though it lost out on the TV ratings to the concurrent “Any Dream Will Do” which gave the lead role in “Joseph” to Lee Mead. Danny Bayne and Susan McFadden did not quite live up to the hype, but the TV coverage acted as a very effective commercial – the show took £8million in advance bookings. (Susan McFadden is the sister of Brian McFadden, of pop-group Westlife fame.) This revival ran for almost four years, finally closing on April 30th, 2011.
Danny Bayne & Susan McFadden
THE BOY FRIEND (5th Revival) London run: Open Air Theatre, August 28th – September 15th Music & Lyrics : Sandy Wilson Director: Ian Talbot Choreographer: Bill Deamer Musical Director: Catherine Jayes Cast: Claire Carrie (Hortense), Rachel Jerram (Polly Browne), Richard Reynard (Tony), Chris Ellis Stanton (Bobby van Husen), Kate Nelson (Maisie), Anna Nicholas (Mme Dubonnet), Ian Talbot (Lord Brockhurst), Margaret Tyzack (Lady Brockhurst), Neil McCaul (Percival Browne), Charlotte Warren, Gemma Sutton, Hayley Gallivan,
Photo by Alastair Muir
Producer: New Shakespeare Company
Richard Reynard & Rachel Jerram
This was a three-week return of the production which had been a huge success at the Open Air Theatre in 2006 – with some changes of cast. Notes: See Original London production, Wyndham’s, January 1954 First revival: Comedy Theatre, November 1967; Second Revival: Old Vic/Albery July 1984 Third revival: Players Theatre, April 1994; Fourth revival: Open Air, July 2006
BLAZE THE MUSICAL London run: Bridewell, August 30th – September 15th Music & Lyrics: Steven Luke Walker Director-Choreographer: David Ball Musical Director: Steven Luke Walker
Cast: Rebecca Seale (Christine), Craig Heyworth (Robert), Keith Anthony Higham (William de Corsa), Pippa Gebette, Shirley Darroch, Neil Moors, Sarah Mahoney, Susannah Moody Songs: A Stitch in Time Story: The London of 1666 is still caught up in the religious differences between working-class Catholics versus the aristocratic Protestants, but of far more direct concern is the disastrous effect of recurring outbreaks of the Great Plague. In the midst of this, the Cinderella-type humble serving-girl Christine is torn between love for her poor but sincere childhood sweetheart, Robert, and the glamorous attractions of the aristocratic William de Corsa. Just when a further outbreak of the Plague seems to simplify her options, along comes the Great Fire of London. Notes: Once again the Bridewell Theatre provided a try-out for a new composer whose work was well received, with the music described as memorable and sometimes showing a surprising intensity. The book and lyrics were felt to be on the weak side, but generally this was felt to be a promising start.
WHEN MIDNIGHT STRIKES London run: Finborough, September 7th – 29th Music: Charles Miller Book & Lyrics: Kevin Hammonds Director: Fenton Gray Choreographer: Norma Atallah Musical Director: David Randall
Songs: Resolutions, Shut Up, A Jerk Like Me, Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em, The Party Of Parties, Little Miss Perfect, Like Father Like Son, It’s Not a Party till Something Gets Broken, Rooftop, Up In Smoke
Photo by Paul Barrass
Cast: Stephanie Flavin (Jennifer), Nicholas Moorhead (Christopher), Alan Winner (Greg), Lorraine Graham, Susan Raasay, Shona White, Ben Enright, Hannah Lindo, Miles Western, Emma Hatton, Bradley Clarkson, Nancy Baldwin. Nicholas Moorhead & Company
Story: New Year's Eve 1999 and Jennifer West's intimate dinner party starts to fall apart when she learns her husband, Christopher, has been having an affair. To make matters worse, she discovers that the unknown lover is one of the eleven party guests at her New York apartment. Could it be the former girlfriend of Greg, Chris's horny younger brother? Or the actress/waitress employed to serve drinks at the party? Or the continually complaining woman next door? Or Jennifer’s best friend who shares an apartment with a gay pot-smoking psychic? Is it even possible Chris could be having a gay affair? Filled with scattered clues and red-herrings about her – or is it his? - identity, this is a musical whodunnit worthy of a 21st Century Agatha Christie. Notes: The critics generally felt that London-based Charles Miller and New Yorkbased Kevin Hammonds had created a witty and entertaining piece of musical theatre that is also a treat for the brain. “When Hammonds' intelligent and savvy lyrics are matched with Miller's melodic score, the result is a collection of terrific showstopping numbers, and Sondheim fans will spot the occasional homage to the master” (Sandra Giorgetti- British Theatre Guide)
BAD GIRLS THE MUSICAL London run: Garrick Theatre, September 12th (77 performances)
The original West Yorkshire Theatre production
BAD GIRLS THE MUSICAL London run: Garrick Theatre, September 12th (77 performances) Music & Lyrics: Kath Gotts Book: Maureen Chadwick & Ann McManus Director: Maggie Norris Choreographer: Ann Yee Musical Director: Dane Preece Cast: David Burt (Jim Fenner), Laura Rogers (Helen Stewart), Nicole Farady (Shell), Caroline Head (Nikki Wade), Emily Aston (Rachel Hicks), Sally Dexter (Yvonne), Helen Fraser (Sylvia “Bodybag”Hollamby), Julie Jupp (Julie Saunders), Rebecca Wheatley (Julie Johnson), Camilla Beeput (Crystal), Maria Charles (Noreen Biggs), Amanda Posener (Denny Blood) Songs: I Shouldn’t Be Here, Guardian Angel, Jailcraft, A Life of Grime, The A-List, That’s the Way It Is, Freedom Road, All Banged Up, The Baddest and the Best, First Lady, This is My Life. Story: Jim Fenner, a prison screw who really lives up to his nickname, is engaged in a power battle with the liberalising Prison Governor, Helen Stewart. So liberal is Helen that she becomes besotted with blonde lesbian Nikki Wade, a prisoner doing time for killing a cop (but since this cop had raped Nikki’s girlfriend, this is okay.) Jim’s sexual advances cause the suicide of newly imprisoned Rachel Hicks, and Jim’s dastardly plan is to make Helen carry all the blame. However, he is exposed by the prisoners and a closed-circuit TV camera. The remaining characters include the sadistic warder, Sylvia “Bodybag” Hollamby, Shell, the prison bully, two prostitutes named Julie (“sluts in a rut”), the gangster’s moll Yvonne (“banged up without a bang”), and Crystal, the shop-lifting gospel-singer (who “did it for Jesus”). Notes: This was based on the TV series which was broadcast from 1999 as a rather gritty true-to-life prison drama. However, as the plots became increasingly ludicrous and the tongue more firmly placed in the cheek, the series developed a camp following and accordingly ended up as a stage musical where a prison rape scene is speedily followed by a Busby Berkeley style dance routine on a light-up staircase. It had opened at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in 2006, and was simply so outlandish, over-the-top, filled with parody songs and spoof routines, that it was welcomed as a very funny piece of glorious bad taste with some clever songs and lyrics. However, it did not catch on with the general public. After a two month run, it closed on November 17th having played 77 performances and some 30 previews.
Photo by Johann Persson
London run: Donmar Warehouse, September 24th – November 24th
PARADE London run: Donmar Warehouse, September 24th – November 24th Music & Lyrics: Jason Robert Brown Book: Alfred Uhry Conception: Harold Prince Director-Choreographer: Rob Ashford Musical Director: Thomas Murray Cast: Bertie Carvel (Leo Frank), Jayne Wisener (Mary Phagan), Gary Milner (Britt Craig, etc), Lara Pulver (Lucille), Shaun Escoffery (Jim Conley, etc), Mark Bonnar (Hugh Dorsey), Norman Bowman (Tom Watson), Stuart Matthew Price, Malinda Parris, Stephen Webb, Helen Anker, Joanna Kirkland, Zoe Rainey, Celia Mei Rubin, Steven Page Songs: The Old Red Hills of Home, The Picture Show, You Don’t Know This Man, Hammer of Justice, Rumblin’ and a-Rollin’, Pretty Music, The Glory, This is Not over Yet, Where Will You Stand When the Flood Comes?, All The Wasted Time
Photo by Johann Persson
Story: Based on the real-life 1913 trial of Jewish factory manager, Leo Frank, who was accused and convicted of the rape and murder of a thirteen-year-old employee, Mary Phagan. The trial inflamed Anti-Semitic fever in the State of Georgia, thanks to the biased reporting of journalist, Britt Craig. Following the guilty verdict, the State Governor reviewed the testimony and decided to commute the death sentence to one of life imprisonment. However, a lynching party broke into the jail, kidnapped Leo Frank and hanged him from a nearby tree. As a result of the subsequent investigation, two opposing groups emerged, the revival of the defunct Ku Klux Klan, and the formation of a Jewish Civil Rights organization. The musical emphasises the relationship between Leo and his wife Lucille, making the miscarriage of justice even more disturbing, and faces up to the likely truth that the real killer was the African-American factory janitor, Jim Conley, the key witness against Leo at the trial. The true villains of the piece are portrayed as the prosecutor, Hugh Dorsey, (later the governor of Georgia and then a judge) and the rabid publisher, Tom Watson (later elected a U.S. senator). Notes: “Parade” was first produced on Broadway in December1998, with a book by Alfred Uhry (author of “Driving Miss Daisy”) and music by 29 year old Jason Robert Brown. Directed by Harold Prince, it failed at the box office, despite winning six Drama Desk Awards and Tony Awards for best book and best score. It closed after just 39 previews and 84 regular performances. However, it went on to become a success on its USA national tour, and has become a favourite with regional and college theatres in America. This British premiere had undergone some re-writing and the inclusion of some new songs, and was much scaled-down compared to Broadway with its lavish cannons, firetrucks and the full panoply of the Confederate Memorial Day Parade. The Donmar production gained much in intensity and emotional strength, and was much praised.
2007 I LOVE YOU BECAUSE
London run: Landor, Sept 26th – Oct 20th Music: Joshua Saltzman Book & Lyrics: Ryan Cunningham Director: Rob McWhir Choreographer: Robbie O’Reilly Musical Director: Ian Vince-Gatt Cast: Daniel Boys (Austin), Richard Frame (Jeff), Jodie Jacobs (Marcy), Debbie Karup (Diana), Mark Goldthorp (NYC Man), Lucy Williamson (NYC Woman) Songs: Another Saturday Night in New York, Oh What a Difference, But I Don’t Want to Talk About Her, The Perfect Romance, We’re Just Friends, Maybe We Just Made Love, Alone, That’s What Gonna Happen Daniel Boys & Jodie Jacobs
Story: Austin, a thoroughly organised and uptight writer of greetings-card verses, discovers his girlfriend has just walked out on him. He would like to win her back and restore order and normality to his staid existence. Meantime his brother, Jeff, persuades Austin to go on a double-date, where he meets Marcy, quirky, unconventional and kooky, and her friend, Diana, who sticks to the rules and dishes out relationship advice whilst ignoring it herself. Notes: Ryan Cunningham and Joshua Salzman first met as students on New York University’s musical theatre writing course, and this show developed from their student work. It was first performed off-Broadway in 2006. More a revue than a true musical, it was inspired by the TV series “Friends” and by the Jane Austen novel “Pride and Prejudice”. The songs and production were welcomed by the critics, with especial praise for the cast, two of whom played a wide variety of supporting characters around the four principals.
RENT (3rd Revival) London run: Duke of York’s, October 15th (128 Performances) Music, Lyrics & Book: Jonathan Larson Director: William Baker Choreographer: Ashley Wallen Musical Director: Steve Hill Cast: Oliver Thornton (Mark Cohen), Luke Evans (Roger), Siobhan Donaghy (Mimi), Jay Webb (Angel), Craig Stein (Benny), Leon Lopez (Collins) , Denise van Outen (Maureen), Francesca Jackson (Joanne),
Original London production: Shaftesbury Theatre, May 1998 First revival: Prince of Wales, December 2001 Second Revival: Prince of Wales, December 2002
Photo by Alastair Muir
Notes: Even though it was a big Broadway hit (eventually closing in September 2008 after a 12 year run and 5,124 performances), “Rent” had twice previously failed to take off in London, where British audience failed to warm to its blend of bombast and sentiment. For its fourth attempt in London this was a completely re-thought production, created by the same production team responsible for the Kylie Minogue stage and video shows. The “re-packaging” replaced the former predominant guitar-rock with pumping gay-club anthems and diva pop, and re-staged the earlier grunge scenery with white brick walls, metal ladders and Perspex screens. However, once again it was not well received by the critics, and again failed to achieve a long run, closing after sixteen weeks on February 2nd 2008.
Denise van Outen
2007 HAIRSPRAY London run: Shaftesbury Theatre, October 30th (1,005 performances) Music & Lyrics: Marc Shaiman Additional lyrics: Scott Whitman Book: Mark O’Donnell & Thomas Meehan Director: Jack O’Brien Choreographer: Jerry Mitchell Musical Director: Nicholas Skilbeck Cast: Leanne Jones (Tracy Turnblatt), Elinor Collett (Penny), Paul Manuel (Corny Collins), Ben James-Ellis (Link Larkin), Mel Smith (Wilbur Turnblatt), Michael Ball (Edna Turnblatt), Johnnie Fiori (Motormouth Maybelle), Adrian Hansell (Seaweed Stubbs)
Songs: Good Morning Baltimore, The Nicest Kids in Town, Mama I’m a Big Girl Now, I Can Hear the Bells, Run and Tell That, I Know Where I’ve Been, Big Blonde and Beautiful Story: It is 1962 in Baltimore, and chunky Tracy Turnblatt and her friend Penny rush home from school determined not to miss TV’s “Corny Collins Show”. They learn all the songs and dances, and drool over Link Larkin, lead singer on the show. Corny Collins announces a competition to find Miss Teenage Hairspray, sponsored by the Ultra Clutch Hairspray Company, and Tracy, Penny and her friends all decide to enter, encouraged by Tracy’s father, Wilbur, and her mother, Edna, a lady who takes in washing to help with the monthly bills. The Corny Collins Show is segregated except one day a month when they have a “Negro Day”. Tracy decides the show should be integrated and starts a campaign to achieve that. In spite of her rival schoolmate Amber, and Amber’s ruthless and racially bigoted mother, Velma, the DJ Motormouth Maybelle is able to announce that Tracy has won the competition. Not only that, but big-hearted Tracy goes on to achieve racial integration for Baltimore, AND gets to romance Link Larkin!
Photo by Catherine Ashmore
Notes: Based on the 1988 John Waters film, the stage version opened on Broadway in August 2002 with Harvey Fierstein as Edna. It won eight Tony Awards and ran for more than 2,500 performances, finally closing in January 2009. The same production team re-created the show for the West End, where it achieved a recordbreaking eleven Olivier Award nominations and won Best New Musical, as well as Best Actress and Actor in a musical (Leanne Jones and Michael Ball). The London production finally closed on March 28, 2010 after a run of nearly two-and-a-half years and over 1,000 performances. A month later it began a hugely successful UK Tour with Michael Ball, Brian Conley and Michael Starke alternating as Edna, and Les Dennis, Micky Dolenz and Nigel Planer as Wilbur. (The stage musical was re-made as a film – the second film version! – in 2007, with John Travolta as Edna.)
Michael Ball & Leanne Jones
JOHN & JEN London run: Finborough, Nov 4th – 19th Music: Andrew Lippa Lyrics: Tom Greenwald Book: Tom Greenwald and Andrew Lippa Director: Christopher Lane Musical Director: Elizabeth Nanatais Photo by Scott McMullin
Cast: Helen Evans (Jen Tracy), John Hawkins (John Tracey/John) Songs: Welcome To the World, Think Big, Timeline, It Took Me A While, Out of My Sight, Run and Hide, Bye Room, Smile of Your Dreams, Graduation, The Road Ends Here, That Was My Way, Every Goodbye is Hello. Helen Evans & John Hawkins
Story: Six-year-old Jen promises to protect her newborn baby brother from their violent and abusive father. Not long after John's seventh birthday, Jen discovers a bruise on John’s face and vows that John will never be hurt again, and they make a pact always to be there for each other. But as they grow up, they drift apart and end up quarrelling. John joins the Navy and Jen moves to Canada with her draft-dodging boyfriend. Then John is killed in Vietnam, leaving Jen to whisper over his coffin "I'm sorry, little brother." Years later Jen’s marriage has failed and she moves back to America with her young son, named John in honour of his dead uncle. Visiting her brother's grave, she vows she won't fail her son like she failed her brother. But she becomes totally possessive, and gradually is no longer able to differentiate between her brother and her son. John feels imprisoned by his mother, and in an argument, Jen slaps her son. She suddenly realises how she has become like her own abusive father. She asks John’s forgiveness and is finally able to let her son go, and they take their first steps into the world on their own. Notes: This two person chamber-musical originally played four months off-Broadway in 1995, and was described as “a beautifully lyrical and haunting musical, emotionally complex and resonant”.
THE BICYCLE MEN London run: King’s Head, November 8th – December 2nd Music & Lyrics: Mark Nutter Book: Dave Lewman, Joe Liss, Mark Nutter & John Rubano. Choreographer: Scott Sandoe Cast: Dan Castellaneta, Joe Liss, Mark Nutter, John Rubano Notes: The Bicycle Men was originally called “Le Comédie du Bicyclette” and premiered in Los Angeles in 2003, eventually developing a cult following in various parts of the USA. This London staging featured part-author Dan Castellaneta, famous for being the voice of Homer Simpson in the American TV series. The story concerns Steve, a hapless American tourist, who crashes his bicycle and encounters the inhabitants of a sinister French village, the kind of village that has a John Cleese character as its Mayor. Only the Viking-helmeted bicycle god can rescue Steve from an absurd world of Gallic weirdos. The songs include one about a man’s love of fake breasts, a song about a man with two penises, and one where a group of camp Broadway chorus boys insist that appearing in a musical doesn’t mean you are gay. There is also a variety act which is able to guess the particular breed of dog by eating the various dog turds. The show received a mixed (very mixed!) critical response.
DESPERATELY SEEKING SUSAN
Photo by Alastair Muir
London run: Gielgud Theatre, November 15th (36 performances) Music: Blondie Additional Music: Deborah Harry & Chris Stein Book: Peter Michael Marino Director: Angus Jackson Choreographer: Andy Blankenbuehler Musical Director: Matt Brind Cast: Kelly Price (Roberta Glass), Jonathan Wrather (Gary), Emma Williams (Susan), Alec Newman (Dez), Steven Houghton, Matt Flint, Leanne Best, Victoria Hamitlon-Barritt, Kaisa Hammarlund, Mark McGee Emma Williams & Kelly Price
Songs: (Blondie back catalogue: ) Hanging on the Telephone, The Tide Is High, Heart of Glass, Call Me, Rapture, One Way or Another. (Specially written for the show: Moment of Truth.) Story: Roberta Glass, trapped in a sexless marriage to Gary, a cheating Jacuzzi salesman, is fascinated with a woman she only knows about by reading messages to and from her in the Personals Section of a New York tabloid. When one message with the headline "Desperately Seeking Susan" proposes a rendezvous in Battery Park with the man who regularly seeks her, Roberta heads off to Manhattan in search of the exciting Susan herself. Things get complicated when, after buying Susan's jacket, Roberta is knocked unconscious. Awaking with amnesia, she assumes she is Susan, who is also being desperately sought by the mob. In a series of events Roberta goes from voyeur to participant in a farcical plot ostensibly about the search for a pair of stolen Egyptian earrings, but finally ends up happy in the arms of loving filmmaker, Dez. Notes: Based on Leora Barish’s screenplay of the 1985 film version starring Madonna, the film was developed into a stage musical incorporating the preexisting songs of Debbie Harry’s pop group, Blondie. Previews began on October 16th and the show opened on November 15th - by which time West End gossip had already nicknamed it “Desperately Seeking the Exit”. Despite a starstudded opening night, the musical was critically mauled, and within a fortnight announced its closure, the final performance being on December 15th, by which time the losses had amounted to more than £3.5 million.
THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD (2nd Revival) London run: Warehouse, Croydon, December 14th – February 24th Music & Lyrics: Rupert Holmes Director: Ted Craig Choreographer: Musical Director: Stefan Bednarczyk Cast: Stefan Bednarczyk (Chairman), Nicola Delaney (Princess Puffer) , Kate Feldschriber (Edwin Drood), Kit Benjamin (John Jasper), Katherine O’Shea, Susie Emmett, Michael George Moore Original London production: Savoy Theatre, May 1987 First revival: Bridewell Theatre, August 2003 Stefan Bednarczyk
THE YOUNG ONES London run: Upstairs at the Gatehouse, December 18th – January 27th 2008 Music & Lyrics: Peter Myers & Ronnie Cass Additional songs: Various New adaptation: John Plews Director-Choreographer: Racky Plews Musical Director: Dominic Carter Cast: Jason Langley (Nicky Black), Seamus Newham (Hamilton Black), Richard Foster-King, Kristopher Milnes, Craig O’Hara, Kay Milbourne, Emily Eden, Sophie Adams, Vicki Lee Taylor, Amy O’Neill. Songs: Got a Funny Feeling, Nothing's Impossible, The Young Ones, All For One, Livin’ Doll, We Say Yeah!, Please Don’t Tease, Do You Wanna Dance, When the Girl in Your Arms in the Girl in Your Heart Story: The story concerns Nicky Black and his chums trying to Jason Langley & Kay Milbourne save their youth club from demolition under the ownership of as Nicky and Toni the unscrupulous millionaire property developer, Hamilton Black. The young ones decide to put on a show to raise money to buy a lease renewal. The twist is that Nicky is in reality Hamilton Black's son. He keeps this secret from his friends until some of them try to kidnap Black senior, at which stage he reveals himself to the attackers. Nicky and his friends plead with Black Senior to give the club back to the youth. He eventually relents and the good times roll. Notes: “The Young Ones” was a 1961 screen vehicle for Cliff Richard. The screenplay was adapted by John Plews from the original by Peter Myers and Ronnie Cass. The stage version used all the songs from the original film and incorporated four later Cliff Richard hits. Although the show was now 46 years old, it had a charm and nostalgic appeal that warmed it to critics and audience alike.