The hottest Broadway shows that we think should be transferring to the West End in 2014?
Do you think that London Theatre has enough Broadway exports to last us a lifetime? (Think Wicked, The Lion King, Jersey Boys, Once, The Book of Mormon et al) Or can’t you get enough of those US of A-listers?!
To help you decide Paul Raven gives a quick run down on what he thinks should be heading towards London in 2014, and what is coming up on Broadway that needs careful transfer-monitoring.
This could easily be numbers 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 in our list. It’s the great big smash hit that caused Tony Awards carnage in 2013 and made us fall in love all over again with Cyndi Lauper. Her joyful score for Kinky Boots, along with Harvey Fierstein’s fabulous book, has made Kinky Boots the show that MUST TRANSFER! Holding out any hope that Chiwetel Ejiofor will feel a pang of loyalty to the UK and head back to the stage to recreate his crowd-pleasing turn from Kinky Boots The Movie seems pretty remote in a post-12 Years A Slave age. But we’d settle for Billy Porter to come give us his Lola any day. Come on Billy, London is fun!
Fierstein Sidebar: We will also be keeping a close eye on Harvey’s latest project – Casa Valentina – which is part of the Manhattan Theatre Club’s 2014 season and his first play for THIRTY YEARS (Why? In God’s name, why Harvey?). Based on a true story, Fierstein tackles a secret 1960’s New York State enclave for straight men who liked to shed the suit and inhabit their female alter egos.
It’s not an obvious one for a Broadway to West End transfer, and you’d need a producer with some VISION (and money!) but we’d give our prized (stolen) Hugh Jackman dance cup to see Patina Miller back in London and giving us her Tony Award-winning performance as the Leading Player. She’s just been voted Broadway.com’s Star of the Year which seems about right given the stir she has caused on the Great White Way in 2013, alongside wowing Michelle Obama and Shirley MacLaine, getting engaged AND snaring a role in The Hunger Games! We fell in love with Patina during her long, successful stint in Sister Act at the London Palladium, and although she seemed pretty pleased to be back on home turf, there must be something she missed about us? GET ON A PLANE PATINAAAA.
Pippin Sidebar: There’s lots of other reasons why Pippin deserves a London run – if nothing else so we can hear something else from Stephen Schwartz besides Wicked, see Bob Fosse’s choreography in action, and prove that London performers do have the talent and energy to match Broadway. Given that Chichester’s Barnum didn’t make it to the West End this year (although it’s off on the road on a UK tour), this could be our circus hit for 2014 (okay, more likely 2015). We just need to ignore the failure of the original 1973 London production at Her Majesty’s…
In the couple of decades that Disney has been aggressively producing stage musicals they have only really dipped their toe into London, first with Beauty and the Beast, and then Disney’s The Lion King, which is still doing good business at the Lyceum Theatre. But on Broadway it is a different story, with Aladdin heading to the Great White Way in March, and The Jungle Book apparently not far behind it. But we should not forget current Broadway hit Newsies, based on the 1992 Disney movie that was renamed The News Boys for us simple, British folk. Based on the strike of 1899 held by the paper boys who worked the streets of New York, the movie starred our very own Christian Bale. It wasn’t a big hit but a cult following led Disney to revive it as a Broadway show in 2011 and it has been going great guns ever since, featuring music by Alan “Little Shop of Horrors and Aladdin” Menken, and a book by Harvey Fierstein (see above). Whether it is too American for us remains to be seen but persistent rumours circulate that Disney are looking to transfer it.
We often take UK casts to Broadway to recreate the magic (Mark Rylance and Stephen Fry have been giving their successful UK versions of Twelfth Night and Richard III on Broadway). So how about the other way round? Top of the list has to be Christopher Durang’s big Chekhov mash-up Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike starring David Hyde Pierce, Kristine Nielsen and Sigourney Weaver, which proved a critical and audience smash-hit earlier in 2013. It would be a nightmare getting those people back together but if they can tempt Dame Angela Lansbury to make the journey to resurrect Blithe Spirit in London this March, IT MUST BE POSSIBLE to get these youngsters on a boat and over to a London venue in 2014.
Close behind is the Divine Bette Midler whose turn in I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat With Sue Mengers is crying out for a London transfer. David Pugh, get to it! Or it’s probably about time we Londoners got to see some authentic Tennessee Williams, albeit by an Englishman (John “Once” Tiffany). His production of The Glass Menagerie currently wowing them at the Booth Theatre starring Zachary Quinto, Cherry Jones, Celia Keenan-Bolger and Brian J. Smith would be a good place to start.
Oh and can Tracy Letts bring his performance in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? to London please?
PINTER REVERSE TAKEOVER
We even have a theatre named after him! Surely that means we should also get to see Rachel Weisz, husband Daniel Craig and Rafe Spall in their Broadway production of Harold Pinter’s Betrayal (it closes this Saturday, why isn’t it opening in London on Monday?).
And get to see Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart bring over their No Man’s Land? Fine, we got to see their Waiting for Godot first, but there would be some poetry in now bringing Pinter’s classic back to London. If nothing else it would allow Damian Lewis to attend the first night, sheepishly pose with McKellen at the after-party and then goose the fruity old wizard!
MUSICALS ON TV!
Yes, London led the world in live broadcasts of theatre in 2013 with highlights including Helen Mirren in The Audience. But NBC in the US kind of trumped us in December by staging The Sound of Music Live starring Carrie Underwood as Maria, in a brand new, live production of the musical on a massive sound stage, and all especially for TV. It scooped 18.6 million viewers in the US and more are in the works. We could do this!
AND LOOKING AHEAD
We will be keeping a close eye on the following to see whether we want these in London!
Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston playing the President in All the Way
Michelle Williams making her Cabaret debut as Sally Bowles, with Alan Cumming returning to the MC role
James Franco giving his George in Of Mice and Men
Woody Allen’s Bullets Over Broadway gets the musical treatment starring Zach Braff
Denzel Washington starring in American classic A Raisin in the Sun
Neil Patrick Harris camping it up in Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Rocky The Musical: It’s had a great reception in Germany but how will it fare on Broadway? If it does well then London will be next.
Idina Menzel popping herself into a new musical is going to always get your attention, and so London producers will be quietly waiting to see how If/Then does when it opens in March
We enjoyed Tyne Daly giving us her Maria Callas in Master Class, and she’s all set for another Terrence McNally play in February in Mothers and Sons
Rebecca Hall in a revival of expressionist play Machinal at the Roundabout Theater directed by fellow Brit Lyndsey Turner
AND WHAT WE DON’T NEED TO SEE
Jekyll & Hyde The Musical didn’t go down particularly well on Broadway in 2013.
Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark: It’s a toughie. Legendary Broadway restaurateur Joe Allen has decided to keep the poster out of its “Flop” section, so maybe that clears the way for a London transfer? Unlikely.