Musical hits make stage comebacks across Britain.
It’s musical theatre déjà vu across Britain at the moment, where Broadway and Off-Broadway hits seem to dominate the schedules. A new tour of Little Shop of Horrors just launched in the U.K., headlined by Rhydian—formerly known as Rhydian Roberts, a contestant on the 2007 series of The X-Factor—as Orin Scrivello, the abusive dentist-boyfriend of Audrey. A new production of Jonathan Larson’s Rent is to launch at Theatr Clwyd in Mold, Wales from October 21. It continues on to Aberdeen, Malvern and High Wycombe, ahead of a Christmas run at London’s St James Theatre from December 8 to January 28. Godspell is being staged for two concert performances (August 30 and 31) at London’s St Paul’s Church in Covent Garden. Students from the British Theatre Academy join soloists that include Kerry Ellis, Ramin Karimloo and George Maguire (the Olivier-winning star of Sunny Afternoon) in an evening that I will myself host.
There are also London revivals for two shows that have often been seen in London before: Ahrens and Flaherty’s Ragtime comes to Charing Cross Theatre in a new production opening October 17. The cast stars Earl Carpenter (fresh from playing Javert in Les Misérables on Broadway). Jason Robert Brown’s The Last Five Years arrives at St James November 2, and 42nd Street, too, is to parade its dancing feet once again at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane—its original London home—from March 20 new year.
Meanwhile Britain’s longest-ever touring production of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s Joseph and the Amazing Technical Dreamcoat (now in its 36th year) is to launch another tour, kicking off at Guildford’s G Live January 24. The 2009 X-Factor winner Joe McElderry leads the cast. Ghost - the Musical is making a comeback, too, in a new touring production, launching at London’s New Wimbledon Theatre from September 1 with a cast led by TV actor Andy Moss.
While Cameron Mackintosh’s 25th anniversary West End revival of Miss Saigon has already lined up New York dates to return the show to its original home of the Broadway Theatre in March 2017, it has now also been announced that the production will launch a major U.K. tour at Leicester’s Curve July 3, 2017. Engagements in Birmingham, Dublin, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Southampton will follow with further dates to be announced.
Other new musicals make their debut.
The autumn promises the London bow for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s latest School of Rock direct from Broadway, opening at the New London on November 14. A belated U.K premiere of Dreamgirls starts at the Savoy on December 14. Still, there are smaller-scale outings for the Off-Broadway musicals Vanities at Trafalgar Studios September 6, The Adding Machine at Finborough September 30, Murder Ballad Arts October 5, Lazarus at King’s Cross Theatre November 8 and Death Takes a Holiday Charing Cross Theatre January 2017.
The new musical Out There will begin performances at London’s Union Theatre September 21. Writers James Bourne and Elliot Davis, the team behind the West End musical Loserville team up again. Bourne is also the co-founder of the pop punk band Busted and Son of Dork and a member of McBusted, which saw him join members of the group McFly to form a new group. Their cast will include West End veteran Dave Willetts, who was the original take-over to Michael Crawford in the West End’s Phantom of the Opera.
Also at the Union: a revival of Moby Dick! The Musical, from October 12. Two former X-Factor finalists Anton Stephans and Brenda Edwards co-star in Andrew Wright’s production.
New York theatre legend Richard Foreman will see his musical Hotel for Criminals, with music by Stanley Silverman, receive its U.K. premiere at London’s New Wimbledon Theatre Studio from October 18.
Arlene Phillips will direct 27, an original British musical with music, book and lyrics by Sam Cassidy, who will co-direct. Phillips is the original choreographer of Starlight Express, the long-running London stage revival of Grease and the London production of We Will Rock You. The show begins a six-week run at London’s Cockpit Theatre September 8. The company will be led by Ryan Molloy, who did a six-year stint as Frankie Valli in the West End’s Jersey Boys.
A return run joins the fall lineup.
Kenny Morgan will be reprised at London’s Arcola Theatre September 20 to October 15. The original drama from Mike Poulton’s is based on the true life story of the former lover of playwright Terence Rattigan.
For further news…
Stay tuned to Playbill.com—and follow me on Twitter here, @shentonstage, for rolling news updates as they happen.