February 16, 2016
We here at Sternberg Clarke are huge fans of theatre and musicals. Only last week, Adam was chatting about Guys and Dolls at the Savoy and barely a month goes by where he’s not yet again sitting in the audience for Kinky Boots (our review of that particular musical is here by the way). Because we want Adam to see something else, we thought we’d compile a list of all the most exciting musicals coming to the West End in 2016. From Disney to Liam Neeson, there’s sure to be something here to satisfy everyone! (And before you’re wondering why it isn’t mentioned, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a play, hence its omission. Oh and Groundhog Day won't be in the West End and hasn't had dates confirmed as yet but we are excited about it!)
The War of the Worlds
Opening this month, Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of the Worlds (to give it its full name) is a classic concept album from 1978 by Jeff Wayne, which retells the story of the famous H.G. Wells novel. Fusing prog rock with a string orchestra and utilising narration to express the feelings of the various characters has helped to propel the album to the 39th best-selling of all time in the UK. Since 2006, the music has been transformed into a stage show with live orchestrations, 3D holography and a giant martian onstage. What’s not to like? It runs at the Dominion Theatre until 30th April 2016 and features a cast including Daniel Bedingfield, David Essex and Liam Neeson’s The Journalist as a hologram. Cool.
Not technically in the West End but we couldn’t write about musicals in the West End (and by association, London) without mentioning the return of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical to the UK’s capital city, especially when you consider Glenn Close is in the cast, reprising her Tony award-winning role as Norma Desmond. Starting on April 1st, Sunset Boulevard will only be running for 5 weeks at the London Colliseum (English National Opera), so get in quick!
Perhaps the most anticipated musical to arrive in London’s West End this year, Aladdin is due to open at the Prince Edward Theatre at the end of May, with its official opening night planned for June 9th 2016. The musical has been a massive smash hit on Broadway since 2014 and will feature a cast that includes former Sugababe, Jade Ewen as Jasmine. With special effects created by Jim Steinmeyer, the man behind David Copperfield’s disappearance of the Statue of Liberty, you can rest assured you’ll be in for a good time!
Following the lives and loves of three generations aboard a show boat as it plies the Mississippi River, the aptly titled Show Boat first premiered way back in 1927. It hasn’t been seen on the London stage since 1998 and is widely regarded as a defining moment in American musicals, proving that they could be serious and spellbinding without the need to be silly and lightweight. Transferring after receiving rave reviews at the Sheffield Crucible, Show Boat will replace the much-loved War Horse at the New London Theatre with previews from 9th April.
Based on L.P. Hartley’s 1953 novel, The Go-Between was recently adapted for television by the BBC, airing on 20th September last year with Jim Broadbent in the lead role. The musical version was first premiered in 2011 at the West Yorkshire Playhouse though this is apparently to be a rewritten version of the story, with Michael Crawford in the lead role. Chiefly adapted from the 1971 romantic drama film, The Go-Between is the story of a young boy, Leo, who is invited to spend the summer of 1900 at the Norfolk Country house owned by his friend Marcus’ family. Left to entertain himself after Marcus falls ill, Leo soon finds himself acting as a go-between, carrying messages between Marcus’ sister and her suitor, a farm hand. Of course, the family had hoped that their daughter would marry an aristocrat instead. The musical will open at the Apollo Theatre with previews from 27th May.
This isn’t technically a new musical as Funny Girl has been playing at the Menier Chocolate Factory with Sheridan Smith in the lead role since November 20th 2015 and will continue to do so until March 5th. That being said, due to its extreme popularity, it will move into the Savoy Theatre from April 9th for a 12 week run with the same cast and crew involved. Based on the life and career of Broadway star Fanny Brice, it was last seen on the West End fifty years ago in 1966!
You may be forgiven for thinking this was definitely still on in the West End but you’d be mistaken! Having premiered in 2012, The Bodyguard closed in 2014, before heading out on a UK tour a year later. For this revival, Beverley Knight will be playing the lead role made famous by Whitney Houston back in 1992, with previews beginning from 15 July 2016. If you’re not aware of the plot, it involves an Oscar-nominated singer who is protected by a reluctant bodyguard after receiving death threats. Described as a romantic thriller, you can probably guess the rest.
Dreamgirls is an extremely intriguing proposition for any discerning musical theatre goer; despite opening in 1981 on Broadway and winning Best Musical at the Tonys, Dreamgirls has never played in London’s West End. This story detailing the ambitions and successes of a host of Motown groups including the Supremes was adapted into an Oscar-winning film in 2006 but still never made it to London until now. A highly regarded production, it will open at the Savoy Theatre in November 2016 with Glee’s Amber Riley in the lead role.
We can’t wait for these productions to arrive and will be sure to review any that we are lucky enough to see! Note: Artwork may differ from that shown.
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By Henry Fosdike