March 24, 2013
A round-up of reviews of The Book of Mormon at the Prince of Wales Theatre in London
One of the most anticipated shows of the year has opened in London, as the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical The Book of Mormon had it’s UK premiere at the Prince of Wales Theatre on Thursday night (21 March 2013).
The producers of the show, written by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone plus Avenue Q’s Robert Lopez, have not allowed themselves to be complacent about the London opening following its New York success: they have run a long, expensive marketing campaign for the show in the run up to its opening, which has paid off in a sold-out first booking period, and a second booking period now open and selling well.
Part of this marketing push was to sell the show based on its Broadway hype rather than on the reaction of UK critics, who have remained a wild card in terms of their reaction.
The good news is that it has been mostly positive, with the critics who enjoyed it really enjoying it. But the big three key newspapers, the Guardian, Telegraph and Mail, were slightly less impressed with the show.
Read a round-up of London reviews for The Book of Mormon, below.
February 24, 2013
With 9 Tony Awards to its name and the New York Times proclaiming it “the best musical of this century”, The Book of Mormon finally doorsteps its way into London.
Now running at the Prince of Wales Theatre, The Book of Mormon is the smash-hit musical by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone plus Avenue Q’s Robert Lopez.
The show stars Gavin Creel and Jared Gertner who play Elder Price and Elder Cunningham in The Book of Mormon. Other cast members include Mark Anderson, Stephen Ashfield, Benjamin Brook, Daniel Buckley, Daniel Clift, Ashley Day, Terry Doe, Candace Furbert, Patrick George, Nadine Higgin, Tyrone Huntley, Evan James, Chris Jarman, Michael Kent, Alexia Khadime, Matt Krzan, Oliver Liddert, Daniel McKinley, Luke Newton, Terel Nugent, Haydn Oakley, Olivia Phillip, Lucy St. Louis, Giles Terera, Kayi Ushe, Tosh Wanogho-Maud and Liam Wrate.
Gavin Creel has previously appeared in the West End as Claude in Hair at the Gielgud Theatre and as Bert in Mary Poppins at the Prince Edward Theatre. Creel received Tony Award nominations for his roles in the Broadway productions of Hair and Thoroughly Modern Millie.
Jared Gertner will make his West End debut in The Book of Mormon. He was a member of the original Tony Award®-winning Broadway company and has previously been seen on stage in Spelling Bee at the Circle in the Square Theatre and in Ordinary Days at the Roundabout Theatre. Gertner has also been seen on TV in Ugly Betty and The Good Wife.
The Book of Mormon comes from South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and Avenue Q co-creator Robert Lopez. The Book of Mormon, winner of nine Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and the Grammy for Best Musical Theatre album, follows a pair of Mormon boys sent on a mission to a place that’s a long way from Salt Lake City.
Book, Music and Lyrics are by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone. Directed by Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker, The Book of Mormon has choreography by Casey Nicholaw, set design by Scott Pask, costume design by Ann Roth, lighting design by Brian MacDevitt, sound design by Brian Ronan, orchestrations by Larry Hochman and Stephen Oremus and music supervision and vocal arrangements by Stephen Oremus.
“THE BEST MUSICAL OF THIS CENTURY” New York Times
“BLISSFULLY ORIGINAL, IRREVERENT, OUTSPOKEN AND HILARIOUS” New York Daily News
“A SPECTACULAR, RATHER PERFECT BROADWAY MUSICAL” Entertainment Weekly
Theatre: Prince of Wales Theatre
March 8, 2011
Our USA round-up of what’s hot on Broadway and beyond, including Daniel Radcliffe in How To Succeed…, transfers of Priscilla and Sister Act, Elaine Paige in Follies and much more.
Catch Me If You Can
Previews begin this week for major new Broadway musical Catch Me If You Can at the Neil Simon Theatre (opens 10 April), based on the Stephen Spielberg movie and the true story that inspired it. The show is led by rising new Broadway star Aaron Tveit (Next to Normal, Wicked) as con-man Frank Abagnale, and also stars Kerry Butler and Norbert Leo Butz. Aaron is featured in this month’s issue of Vanity Fair and there is a real buzz about him. The musical comes from the Hairspray and Love Never Dies creative team of Jack O’Brien (director) and Jerry Mitchell (Choreography), with a book by Terence McNally (The Full Monty), and score by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman.
Spider-Man: Julie out?
The New York Times is reporting that Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark director Julie ‘The Lion King’ Taymor may have to fall on her sword and depart the production if she doesn’t seek help. Apparently the producers of the troubled, multi-million dollar show would like her to work with an expanded creative team to try and bring work on the production to a close – or she may have to leave the show. Other current decisions being made on the show include to what extent the script and music should be overhauled. The five-times rearranged opening night of 15 March now seems almost certain to be… rearranged!
London to Broadway: Priscilla, Sister Act, War Horse, Jerusalem
Four big West End shows are opening on Broadway in the coming weeks. Priscilla Queen of the Desert is currently in previews at the Palace Theatre on Broadway (and the Palace Theatre, London!), starring Will Swenson as Tick. Swenson appeared in the recent Broadway and London productions of Hair, and is joined in Priscilla by Tony Sheldon, who revisits the role of Bernadette after wowing audiences in Australia and London, and Nick Adams (La Cage Aux Folles) as Adam.
Over at the Broadway Theatre previews start on 24 March for Sister Act, which wings its way to America following a decent run at the London Palladium. The star of the London show, Patina Miller, will reprise her role as nightclub singer Deloris Van Cartier, joined by Victoria Clark (The Light in the Piazza) as Mother Superior.
Also transferring to Broadway, the National Theatre’s production of War Horse will start previews at the Lincoln Center in New York from 15 March, and the Royal Court’s smash-hit production of Jez Butterworth’s play Jerusalem will play the Music Box theatre from 2 April. The play will feature its Olivier Award-winning London star Mark Rylance, who is sure become a major Tony Awards contender for his tour de force performance as Johnny ‘Rooster’ Byron.
Daniel Radcliffe in How To Succeed in Business…
Life after Harry Potter is going to be particularly glamorous for Daniel Radcliffe as he is currently starring in How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre (now in previews, opens 27 March). The show has hit the press recently over rumours that Warner Bros. are furious with the show’s producers for not letting Radcliffe out of performances to promote the final Harry Potter film later in the year.
Elaine Paige in Follies
Not long to go until the Eric Schaeffer revival of Sondheim’s Follies at the Kennedy Center in Washington (7 May – 19 June) starring Bernadette Peters as Sally, Jan Maxwell as Phyllis, Danny Burstein as Buddy, Ron Raines as Benjamin Stone – and our very own Elaine Paige as Carlotta. The casting of Paige caught many off guard (she’s TOO YOUNG you cry!) and it will be interesting to see if Paige turns up in Trevor Nunn’s mooted revival of the show at the Theatre Royal Haymarket later this year.
Hot tip: Gavin Creel in Prometheus Bound
Whilst Hair alumni Will Swenson is camping it up in Priscilla, fellow co-worker Gavin Creel, who also starred with Swenson in the London transfer of Hair, is currently wowing audiences in Prometheus Bound at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Mass. Rumour mills are buzzing over whether the show might transfer to Broadway. Written by Tony and Grammy Award-winning playwright and lyricist Steven Sater, who scored a huge hit with Spring Awakening on Broadway and less so in London, and with music composed by Grammy Award-winning System of a Down lead singer Serj Tankian, the show is inspired by Aeschylus’s Ancient Greek tragedy.
Stars on Broadway
There’s no shortage of stars turning up on Broadway over the next few weeks, with Frances McDormand having just opened in Good People at the Manhattan Theatre Club, Brian Cox, Chris Noth, Jason Patric and Kiefer Sutherland starring in That Championship Season at the Bernard Jacobs Theatre, Billy Crudup in Arcadia at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre (opens 17 March), Robin Williams in Bengal Tiger In The Baghdad Zoo at the Richard Rodgers Theatre from 11 March, Chris Rock in Motherf**Ker With The Hat at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre from 15 March, Kathleen Turner in High at the Booth Theatre from 25 March, Edie Falco, Ben Stiller and Jennifer Jason Leigh in The House of Blue Leaves at the Walter Kerr Theatre from 25 April, and Tyne Daly and Sierra Boggess in Master Class at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre from 24 May. Phew!
August 17, 2010
It’s all change in the West End next month as September sees a number of shows bid farewell.
September marks a busy time for Theatreland as a slate of new shows open in town, which means a number of summer hits are closing to make way.
This month, Sam Mendes’ Bridge Project shows at the Old Vic, As You Like It and The Tempest, starring Stephen Dillane and Juliet Rylance, closes on 21 August. They are swiftly followed by La Bete at the Comedy Theatre, which closes on 28 August before heading off to Broadway. The Matthew Warchus-helmed show features a starry cast including David Hyde Pearce, Mark Rylance and Joanna Lumley.
In September, things start to get really shaken up and we lose some of the big summer shows. In a reversal of La Bete, HAIR made its debut on Broadway and then came to London – and you only have until 4 September to see what all the fuss was about and catch the New York cast, including Gavin Creel, before they head home.
Also on the 4th we lose David Essex penned musical All The Fun of the Fair, and dance spectacular Burn The Floor , which is clearing its tango shoes and sequins out of the Shaftesbury Theatre to make room for another big dance show, Flashdance The Musical. This will star Matt Willis and Victoria Hamilton-Barritt and is choreographed by Arlene Phillips.
And it’s never just one big dance show that goes: butch and blue-collar Tap Dogs starring Adam Garcia is also leaving the West End the day after Burn The Floor, on 5 September.
The short run of The Secret of Sherlock Holmes, riding high after the BBC’s Sherlock series, will end on 11 September at the Duchess Theatre to make way for Michael Gambon in Krapp’s Last Tape.
And we wave goodbye to Jeff Goldblum and Mercedes Ruehl on 25 September as Neil Simon’s The Prisoner of Second Avenue leaves the Vaudeville Theatre.
BOOKING AND OFFERS
Save £19 on tickets to see HAIR at the Gielgud Theatre
Save £30 on tickets to see All The Fun of the Fair at the Garrick Theatre
Save £21 on tickets to see Burn The Floor at the Shaftesbury Theatre
Save £11 on tickets to see Tap Dogs at the Novello Theatre
Half Price tickets to see The Secret of Sherlock Holmes at the Duchess Theatre
Save £14 on tickets to see The Prisoner of Second Avenue at the Vaudeville Theatre
June 25, 2010
Here’s a sneaky peak of Jonathan Groff singing Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now at Joe’s Pub in New York this week. Here’s hoping that he decides to pop himself into We Will Rock You in London after he’s finished with his starring role in comedy thriller DEATHTRAP – which starts rehearsals soon for its 20 August opening in London at the Noel Coward Theatre.
We expect to hear about lots of JG sightings around town in the next few months, although will try and suppress an urge to stalk the poor lad! We also hope that he will keep up his singing practice whilst performing in a play by doing a few nights at the Pigalle Club (we hear Gavin Creel from Hair was fabulous last Sunday at the Pigalle – the same night Jonathan sang in New York).
May 31, 2010
Two West End stars left their roles in major shows this weekend. On Saturday night (29 May) Jason Donovan left Priscilla Queen of the Desert at the Palace Theatre and Broadway star Will Swenson left Hair at the Gielgud Theatre.
Fans and cast members paid tribute to Jason Donovan on Saturday 29 May as he shimmied in his fabulous shoes and frocks for the final time in Priscilla Queen of the Desert at the Palace Theatre in London, after 14 months and over 450 performances.
On Jason’s Facebook page, fan Laura Harvey said: “So sad that it’s your last Priscilla…. you will be greatly missed”. Cast mate Amy Edwards posted on Twitter that, “am going to miss him loads! He’s a fantastic performer and an amazing person”, and Oliver Thornton, who plays Adam in the show said: “So sad to lose my playmate and friend from the show”.
Ben Richards from ITV’s The Bill takes over Donovan’s role from 1 July. Richards is an accomplished musicals actor having played numerous roles in high-profile West End shows including Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls, Danny Zuko in Grease, Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever and Jerry Lukowski in The Full Monty.
In a theatrical circle of life, Saturday also saw Broadway star Will Swenson leave Hair The Musical in the West End – in order to take on Jason Donovan’s role of Tick in a new Broadway production of Priscilla Queen of the Desert.
Swenson, who was Tony Award-nominated for his performance as Berger in Hair, will open in Priscilla in Toronto in October for 12 weeks before moving the show to Broadway.
The Broadway production will also see Tony Sheldon, who played Bernadette in the Australian and London productions of Priscilla, reprise his role.
Steel Burkhardt, a company member in the original Broadway production and the West End transfer, has taken over Swenson’s role as Berger. Hair marked Burkhardt’s Broadway and West End debuts.
Hair will close at the Gielgud Theatre on 4 September 2010.
In other HAIR news, Gavin Creel, fellow Broadway and now London cast member of the show, will make his solo debut in London this summer. He will play one night only at the Pigalle Club in London’s West End on 20 July. See Facebook for further information.
April 15, 2010
There was much reminiscing at the Gielgud Theatre last night for the opening of HAIR. The award-winning Broadway revival, which has moved lock, stock and smoking doobie to London courtesy of Cameron Mackintosh, prompted much nostalgia from the critics, many of whom remembered the original production (Charles Spencer in the Telegraph was particularly sweet: ”for old hippies like me, the show offers two and a half hours of theatrical bliss”. The critics were largely positive, with much praise heaped on Diane Paulus’s well-judged production and the enthusiasm and energy of the cast.
TI: It can’t and doesn’t have the freshness of the moment when Hair first hit a London that had just binned the theatrical censor. But it’s exhilarating, as well as oddly poignant… This is a production whose unstoppable energy and ebullient choreography more than compensate for what could, I suppose, still be considered flaws.
TE: More than 40 years since its premiere, this greatest of all rock musicals can still inspire violent antipathy among the straitlaced. That strikes me as being one of its strengths.
IN: The great thing about this joyous production of the mother of all rock musicals, a total transplant of the recent Broadway revival, is that it makes a bad book look better and the already good music sound great.
GU: Hair is more than just a musical: it is a social and cultural phenomenon, a jubilant assertion of life and freedom and a cry of protest against politicians who, in the late 1960s, sent a generation of young Americans to war.
DM: Big and fuzzy, that’s Hair. An energetic revival of the 1960s anti-war musical has just reached London and the striking thing, apart from the noise and spectacle, is that the Vietnam era’s youth were so much bolder than recent Western youngsters in their reaction to American warfare.
ON THE CAST
TI: With the marvellously febrile Will Swenson to the fore, shaking his long black locks at zombie America, I was time-warped to the turbulent, anarchic feel of 1968.
TE: The verve and energy of the company, who frequently make forays into the audience, ruffling the spectators’ hair and kissing them on the cheek, is irresistible… Will Swenson’s comic but deliberately un-endearing performance in the leading role of Berger… Caissie Levy is tender and touching as the girlfriend he treats so cruelly, Gavin Creel deeply moving as the confused Claude
IN: Will Swenson’s bestial Berger – you couldn’t say he was a ham Berger – exudes a rugged charm even when mooning bare-bottomed at the audience. He has the dark good looks of Oliver Tobias, who played the role here, and doesn’t seem to be “acting” at all. There are some great voices as well as his, notably Sasha Allen’s gorgeous Dionne, who take us back to the Age of Aquarius and Darius Nichols’s Afro-wigged Hud with a big creamy bass.
GU: I can only salute the cascading energy of her cast led by Gavin Creel as Claude, Caissie Levy as the demonstrating Sheila, Will Swenson as the shaggily stoned, self-consciously hammy Berger and Sasha Allen as the brass-lunged Dionne.
DM: [But] the lack of narrative is balanced by the panache of the actors. Only the most reactionary grump could fail to applaud their professionalism. The sheer stamina needed to keep that wall of noise going all evening is remarkable.
BOOK AND MUSIC
TI: Gerome Ragni and James Rado’s book might often have been improvised by stoned beatniks, but Galt MacDermot’s songs, with their tributes to sodomy, onanism and (weirdly) “Manchester, England”, still zing.
IN: …the score by Galt MacDermot, with a handful of chart-topping numbers and a bountiful mix of great jazz ballads, raw blues and choric anthems, remains as irresistible as ever: the “Hare Krishna” chorus elides into the “Where Do I Go?” Act I finale in which the cast’s nudity is now delivered as a graceful and moving statement of helplessness and vulnerability.
DM: That hits you, as does the paucity of plot. The first 40 minutes are almost entirely unexplained – it’s just one high-pulse introductory solo after another – and the second half suffers a long, heinously dull hallucination scene.
ON THE DIRECTOR
TE: Diane Paulus’s production brilliantly succeeds in letting the audience imagine it is present at a Sixties happening where sex and drugs and rock and roll (not to mention full-frontal nudity) combine to create a world of bleary bonhomie, naive idealism and political radicalism.
IN: Diane Paulus’s production pulls the clever stunt of turning the protest into a lament for Claude as the tribe “let the sunshine in” and disperse through the stalls, leaving a corpse in uniform out in the snow. It’s a stunning conclusion, managing to avoid both glutinous sentiment and mawkish piety.
GU: The great thing about Diane Paulus’s revival, which imports an entire Broadway company to London, is that it sees the show in two ways. It recognises that Hair was a product of its time, yet it also presents it as a vibrant, joyous piece of living theatre.
GU: Without attempting to emulate the pyrotechnic, strobe-lit dazzle of Tom O’Horgan’s original production, Paulus also makes this a genuinely tribal show in which the spirit of the ensemble is greater than any individual. Above all, Paulus and her music director, Richard Beadle, give full value to Galt MacDermot’s 40 songs
TI: And, boy, can these performers sing. It doesn’t wholly matter that the show needs a less traditional playhouse than the Gielgud when they celebrate freedom by sprawling into the aisles and the stalls. They do something better. They raise the old theatre’s roof.
TE: …this is essentially an ensemble show in which the whole company shines, while also suggesting the dark shadows of the hippie dream.
IN: It is, sui generis, one of the great musicals of all time, and a phenomenon that, I’m relieved to discover, stands up as a period piece with as much vitality and appeal as, in their own way, do No, No Nanette and The Boy Friend.
GU: But what matters is that it celebrates a period when the joy of life was pitted against the forces of intolerance and the death-dealing might of the military-industrial complex. As Shakespeare once said: “There’s sap in’t yet.”
DM: Forty years on, we are wiser about the sapping, ruinous effects of hallucinogenic drugs. We have also started to realise that the baby-boomer generation was spoilt and, in numerous ways, destructive and fake. When you consider that the draft-dodgers included later warmongers such as Bill Clinton and George W Bush, it doesn’t do much for the brand. And yet here, albeit with great gusto, albeit to shrieking acclaim, such creeps are being romanticised as enlightened and somehow brave. Despite the admirable production values, that stinks.
KEY TO CRITICS:
April 1, 2010
Hair, the acclaimed Broadway musical revival, starts previews tonight at the Gielgud Theatre in London.
Cameron Mackintosh has brought over the entire New York cast of James Rado and Gerome Ragni’s 1967 tribal rock musical, starring the sexy and charismatic Gavin Creel as Claude.
The show, set against the backdrop of the Vietnam war draft during the 1960s, centres on a group of hippies who champion peace, love and freedom and features a famous score including songs Aquarius, Good Morning Starshine, Let The Sunshine In and, of course, Hair.
The current Broadway production by the Public Theater, which won a 2009 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical, celebrated its one-year anniversary yesterday, 31 March, at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre in New York.
February 7, 2010
Broadway star Gavin Creel comes to London in Hair
Following its hugely successful run at Central Park’s Delacorte Theater, Hair returned to Broadway last year for the first time in more than 30 years. Galt MacDermot, Gerome Ragni and James Rado’s 1967 tribal love-rock musical opened at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre to stunning reviews and legions of new fans.
So much so that theatre impresario Cameron Mackintosh has persuaded New York producers to let him uproot the entire cast lock, stock and barrel and bring them over to the Gielgud Theatre this Spring.
Whilst the show features a strong ensemble cast, GAVIN CREEL, who plays a particularly conflicted member of Hair’s tribe of Vietnam-era, naked-loving bohemians, has stood out as being a particularly powerful presence in the musical.
Creel, 33, who was born in Ohio, was already Tony-nominated for his 2002 Broadway debut in Thoroughly Modern Millie when he claimed another nomination last year for his performance as Claude, this time for best performance by a leading actor in a musical. He was piped to the post by those dancing boys from Billy Elliot, but something tells us that he is sure to get another shot at this – and many other awards – sometime soon.