Before we were so rudely interrupted by the weekend and my boyfriend Peter’s demands (schlockily entertaining by the way, even while having to wear 3D glasses), I was recapping “The Month That Theatre Terri Lost”. The point being: a lot has happened, and generally always does happen in Theatreland, amen, let us count our blessings. So on to…
Part Two: Musical chairs
- Made in Dagenham receives its world premiere – It’s been rumoured for over two years, but the photos of the gorgeous (and “luminously talented”) Gemma Arterton (who I must ensure my Peter is NEVER introduced to) in Swinging Sixties attire made it all feel freshly minted. The musical of the 2010 Brit flick about the 1968 seamstress strike at the Ford Factory in Dagenham receives its world premiere at the West End’s Adelphi Theatre from 5 November 2014 (previews from 9 October). It’s directed by former Headlong and current Almeida artistic director Rupert Goold (whose musical credits include Oliver!), with a book by Richard “One Man, Two Guvnors” Bean, music by Grammy winner David Arnold and lyrics by Richard “Jerry Springer The Opera” Thomas. Arterton is ringleader Rita O’Grady (played by Sally Hawkins onscreen) with Adrian Der Gregorian as her husband Eddie.
- Memphis transfers from Broadway – Sneaking its opening in just ahead of Made in Dagenham, the four-time Tony Award-winning Broadway import Memphis will receive its West End premiere at the Shaftesbury Theatre on 23 October 2014 (previews from 9 October). “Queen of British soul” Beverley Knight stars as singer Felicia, looking for her big break in the underground dance clubs of 1950s Memphis Tennessee. Memphis has an original score by former Bon Jovi band member David Bryan and a book by Joe DiPietro. It’s directed by Christopher Ashley.
- The Bodyguard bows out – The screen-to-stage adaptation of the Whitney Houston weepie has links to both of the above: it’s giving its home to Made in Dagenham and its leading lady to Memphis. Beverley Knight, currently playing the Houston role of Rachel Marron, gives her last performance on 31 May to prepare for Memphis. She’s succeeded by Alexandra Burke, who found fame by winning the fifth series of The X Factor and went on to become a three-time Brit nominee. The Bodyguard finishes at the Adelphi on 31 August 2014, after which it will hit the road on tour.
- We Will Rock You stops rocking – This isn’t the first time that West End closure has been on the cards for the Queen musical, but the difference is, this time it’s for real. We Will Rock will finish its incredible 12-year run at the Dominion Theatre on 31 May 2014. This is the show that defied the critics to become (currently) the fifth longest-running musical in the West End. No wonder the cast can belt out “We Are the Champions” with such gusto every night. I have to admit, when it first opened, I wasn’t personally won over, but I’ve developed a real affection for the futuristic romp over the years, thanks in large part to one Brian May. Who can resist this man’s charm, intelligence and guitar solos? But let me save all that for another blog. And what’s next for the Dominion? I’ve heard it’s another Broadway blockbuster musical transfer starting with the letter “M” – namely, Motown the Musical. Time will tell.
- Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice in sync again – The closure of Tim Rice’s From Here to Eternity was announced before my month off, but the simultaneous (more sudden) closure of his one-time collaborator Andrew Lloyd Webber’s latest Stephen Ward was announced at the end of February. Both finished their runs this past Saturday (29 March 2014) after six and four months respectively. While I don’t think either show demonstrated these legends at their best, I found both interesting – and deserving of longer runs. What a shame.
Alex Jennings, Ruthie Henshall, Ryan Molloy – Amongst the other divas and divos (that’s the male equivalent, by the way – go on, use it widely and let’s get it popular) of the musical theatre world, there were some more cool casting announcements recently. The prospect of Alex Jennings as the new Willy Wonka, taking over from Douglas Hodge on 19 May, is more than enough to make me want to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory again. Extra bonus: Josefina Gabrielle and Barry James are also joining the cast. Meanwhile, Ruthie Henshall (I still hear “The name on everybody’s lips is gonna be: Roxie”, I mean “Ruthie”, whenever her name is mentioned) is the new Mrs Wilkinson in Billy Elliot the Musical from 12 May. And, last but not least, the casting of Ryan Molloy, alongside Jessie Wallace and Gary Kemp, makes Theatre Royal Stratford East’s revival of Lionel Bart’s Fings Ain’t Wot They Used T’Be (running 8 May-8 June) frankly unmissable. It’s Ryan’s first new role since six years of shining bright as Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys. (Did you catch the pun?)
No, that’s not all folks. I’m not nearly caught up. Check back for the final instalment of The Month That Theatre Terri Lost. Part Three will include season’s cheers from the National, Chichester, the Old Vic and the Barbican. I mean, seriously, what a thing to have to keep quiet about: Benedict Cumberbatch’s Hamlet…