The Friday musical round-up: 13th June

Hi everyone – I hope you have had a good week. The musical news this week is mostly about new shows – we’ve had 2 opening nights and 3 new shows. To round things out, we also have a West End debut as an interesting response to a show’s closing…

  • Dickens Unplugged opened this week, and judging by the critics’ response, it’s pretty unlikely to be as successful as the Reduced Shakespeare Company, one of writer Adam Long’s previous projects. Whilst there have been some positive responses to the show, it only managed one star reviews from both The Guardian and The Times
  • Gareth Gates will make his West End debut in A Spoonful of Stiles and Drewe, a one-night only gala show celebrating the careers of George Stiles & Anthony Drewe. See the original story on The Stage here
  • Priscilla: Queen of the Desert is going to be be the latest musical to join the West End stage (according to today’s Daily Mail stort). Apparently it will replace Spamalot in the Palace Theatre once it closes next January. The show’s official website confirms that a London run is planned for “early 2009” but there has been no official confirmation of location as of yet.
  • The Harder They Come also had its opening night this week in its new home at the Playhouse Theatre, and whilst most of the major national newspapers didn’t feel the need to review the show a second time (after its Barbican run earlier in the year), it got a very positive response from The Telegraph. You can find the show’s official website here 
  • Gone with the Wind cast member Ray Shell shared his thoughts on why the show has done so badly, in an article in the Guardian this week. Bloggers among you will be interested by the fact that the West End Whingers get a mention as the first critical response…
  • Legally Blonde the Musical is also expected in London soon, with What’s On Stage stating that the word on the street (also from the Daily Mail) has the show repacing Grease at the Picadilly Theatre.
  • Stephen Sondheim’s Bounce is finally coming to Broadway (yes, I know it’s not London news, but it’s exciting all the same!). It’s going to be directed by British director John Doyle, and will open at the Public Theater – see the story at either or playbill. I’m just frustrated that the show won’t open in time for my trip to NY in August!


GIven that September is often a popular time for shows to open, I’d expect to hear more formal announcements about show openings sometime soon.

I’m also still hoping that the Menier Chocolate Factory is planning a summer musical. They’ve produced Last Five Years and Take Flight in the last 2 summers, so fingers crossed they have something up their sleeve for this year.


2 Responses to “The Friday musical round-up: 13th June”

  1. 1 Rogue Zentradi June 13, 2008 at 5:47 pm

    There will be a summer musical at the Chocolate Factory, details coming soon. I had dinner there recently and the waiter shared some info but until the official announcement comes it’s not fair to post.

    Re: the GWTW article, I need to write a proper reply to that on my blog because unlike the Whingers, I actually did report from first night. I find it sad that a respectable West End actor can seriously go around laying the blame on “teh internets” for spreading negative word of mouth when he admits that the show wasn’t ready yet. The fact is that my blog, the Wingers, the What’s on Stage boards, and the official critics’ circle said the same thing: The producers screwed the pooch BIG TIME in letting this open when it did. One of the first hints that things were going bad is Mr. Shell’s comment that the show clocked in at five hours during rehearsal.

    Five. Hours.

    A word of advice: Unless you’re subsidised and claiming to be Artistes (Whatever that 9 hour thing coming to the Barbican is) or planning to split your show over multiple nights (Nicholas Nickelby, Coast of Utopia, Angels in America), you’re doing something wrong if you honestly expect people to sit through something that long in a single night.

    And previews? Too little FAR too late. The first significant edits to previews didn’t occur until after the first week, as reports from the first weekend’s worth of previews confirm the hideous length. Given the negative buzz already associated with the show by that point, the producers should have done the unpopular but honourable thing and delayed press night an extra week or two.

    Then there’s the bit in the last paragraph: “…given time, we could have found our audience and given Cats and Les Mis a run for their longest-running-musical titles.”

    I saw GWTW twice, and while it had gone from soul crushingly boring to tolerable, there was none of the wonderment of Cats or intelligence of Les Mis (two shows I’m not all that fond of but at least respect) to drive the show nor any OMGWOW moments to really stay in your head even if you didn’t like the rest of the piece. Case in point? I hate Les Mis, but “One Day More” is a pinnacle of using musical reprise and smart blocking to create a brilliant visual effect. GWTW had *none* of that. There was no standing ovation either night I attended (short of people rushing to catch their trains) and no real heart to pull you in.

  1. 1 Coming to a West End theatre near you? « Coloured Lights Trackback on June 18, 2008 at 10:22 am

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