The following is a guest post written by Simon Harding
This year has been a year of change in London’s Theatreland. At no time in the last decade has there been so many exciting new shows coming to town. The first time visitor to London doesn’t really care what is new and old , usually they only want to know what is good. But if you have been to London a few times then it really is great to keep up with what is new and exciting. So here are my tips for 5 new musicals in London to look out for in 2013 and beyond.
First we have The Bodyguard. The film was a great success and the stage show sees even more Whitney Houston songs added to the songs we know and love from the sound track. I was lucky to be there on Launch day at the Savoy Hotel, just across from the Adelphi Theatre where it will open later this year and hearing Heather Hedley, the actress who will take on the lead role, sent shivers down my spine. Songs that will be part of the score include Queen of the Night, So Emotional, One Moment in Time, Saving All My Love, I’m Your Baby Tonight, Run to You, I Have Nothing, How Will I Know, I Wanna Dance With Somebody and one of the greatest hit songs of all time – I Will Always Love You.
Sticking with the theme of taking hit songs and turning them into a London musical, Viva Forever owes its musical heritage to none other than the Spice Girls! But the treatment is bound to be a little different. Comedian, Jennifer Saunders has written an original story about a group of wannabees – four best friends who enter a televised Talent Show only to discover that if one of them is to succeed then the others are going to have to be left behind. A story about four girls, their hopes and dreams and about the relationship of a mother and daughter and what they are willing to sacrifice to make it to the top. The production team is the same one as is behind the international smash hit musical Mamma Mia! So Theatreland is expecting great things… the preview performances were sold out months before it opened.
A Chorus Line
A Chorus Line is a revival of one of the most successful Broadway shows of all time. And like Viva Forever it is set around an audition, a dance audition for a Broadway show. But here there are no TV cameras, no public votes, no screaming fans and tearful relations. The auditions at the heart of A Chorus Line are a tense, personal affair, which will break weak performers and reduce even the successful to nothing more than a line of featureless dancers, drilled into becoming the perfect chorus line. But the songs! Rather than taking established hits and moulding them into a show like Viva Forever and The Bodyguard, A Chorus Line created hits that are now part of musical history: “ I Can Do That”, “At the Ballet”, the haunting “What I Did for Love” and of course “One !(Singular Sensation)”.
Again from Broadway and, like The Bodyguard, an adaptation of an award-winning film, Once is the story of how an Irish busker and a young Czech mother meet and fall in love through their shared love of music. The musical has already smashed it in New York, collecting 8 Tony Awards in 2012 and it is set to be just as successful, with a cast of actor-musicians who promise to unleash the wild exhilarating music typical of a traditional Irish ceilidh, live on stage at the Phoenix Theatre, London in March 2013.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Last but by no means least of my 5 hot tips for 2013 is Charlie And The Chocolate Factory. Starring Douglas Hodge (who last appeared in London in the hit musical La Cage Aux Follesas Willy Wonka this is set to be the big family hit of the summer of 2013. For those of you who have been under a rock since 1964 when Roald Dahl published his book of the same name Charlie and The Chocolate Factory tells of a young boy from a poor family who wins the chance to explore a magical sweet factory after discovering a golden ticket inside one of Willy Wonka’s chocolate bars… well I thought someone may not know! It is directed by American Beauty and Skyfall director, Sam Mendes.
There are many more shows opening in London over the next few months – some old, some new, some with established international stars, some with stars of tomorrow – but all of them will turn up night after night to make sure that they give you and me a cracking night out and that makes me feel pretty special: I hope you do to!
About the Author: Simon Harding has been promoting London Theatre for 30 years. He runs London Theatre Breaks and has recently written “London Theatre and Theatre Breaks”, an e-guide to getting the most out of a trip to London’s world famous Theatreland.
photo by Mr Andy Bird on flickr