During my 10 months of writing this blog I have often wondered over the future and state of musicals and what it means for the genre. I and many people have commented on the need for fresh air – and it seems those prayers have been answered.
Of course, to make way for new productions, we must say a fond farewell and adieu to some much loved shows. Blood Brothers shuts its doors this Autumn after around 10,000 performances and 24 years in London (making it older than many involved in A Younger Theatre!) Chicago is also giving it all that jazz for a final time later this year after 15 years and an array of celebrity guest performers, from ice skater Robin Cousins to Ugly Betty’s America Ferrera. Other shows closing include Ghost: The Musical, on both sides of the Atlantic – it ran for 16 months in the UK and five months in NYC. The Wizard of Oz is heading off down the yellow brick road one last time as it ends its 17 month run. All of these shows have had good and impressive runs in London: over a year is still good going for a musical, but the time has come to move on.
So what can we expect in their stead? We have four jukebox shows: The Bodyguard based on the Whitney Houston film, Viva Forever (the Spice Girls songs), Let It Be (The Beatles music) and Soul Sister (Tina Turner hits). These initially didn’t excite me; I get quite snobby about shows that don’t use original music, but for once I’m going to save judgement until they have opened as any of them could be as big a success as Mamma Mia, which is my guilty pleasure musical.
The show that has got many beside themselves with glee is the arrival of The Book of Mormon from the creators of South Park, a show that has been a huge success on Broadway. After listening to the soundtrack on a long train ride and having to bite my lip to stop from laughing out loud I am one of those who can’t wait for it to open next year. However, I am also hoping other successful Broadway shows make it to this side of the pond, such as Disney’s Newsies or Once. The latter is another triumph of subsidised theatre, based on the indie Irish film which won an Oscar for best song, but is quite a small scale production in comparison to other musicals so there is a good chance it will be put on here.
There are also revivals due of Cabaret (Michelle Ryan and Will Young) and Kiss Me Kate (Hannah Waddingham and Adam Garcia). Plus there is talk of a revival of Gypsy starring Imelda Staunton who is currently thrilling audiences in Sweeney Todd – I will pay good money to see her perform ‘Rose’s Turn’. Next year also brings us another musical based on one of Roald Dahl’s books: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
So whilst it is sad to wave goodbye to these stalwarts of the West End, I can’t wait to see all the new productions coming and whether they will change the British musical theatre scene. For now, I will just try and patiently control my excitement!