This year is a great year for new shows in London as one of Europe destination for traveling. “The Bodyguard” kicked things off and has continued to go from strength to strength, with a new cast featuring Beverley Knight (a superstar in her own right) who plays the part made famous on screen by Whitney Houston. Then the stage adaptation of “Once” opened at the Phoenix Theatre, followed this summer by “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”.
The autumn continued in the same vein, with Roddy Doyle helping to see his own “The Commitments” start its successful run, “Dirty Dancing” making a welcome return and Tim Rice’s new show (how often is a show sold on its lyricist?), the excellent “From Here to Eternity” starring Darius Campbell.
But looking forward, more hit shows are on their way, to entertain locals and visitors to the city on a London theatre break as travel destination.
First we have Andrew Lloyd Weber’s “Stephen Ward” which is a musical about the 1963 Profumo Affair (sex and lies bring down a government – do things ever change?). This opens in December just in time for the busy season in London’s Theatreland. With such pedigree it is bound to do well but, as Lord Weber discovered with “Love Never Dies”, critics are unable to resist a man on a perch!
In fact there are rumors that “Love Never Dies” will return – whether it comes to London travel or tours instead is not confirmed as of yet.
Next on the list is “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”. Only just announced, it will star Robert Lindsay, who was such a success in “Me and My Girl” and Rufus Hound who recently starred in “One Man Two Guvnors”. Again it is a musical adaptation of a film: this one starred Steve Martin and Michael Caine as two roguish conmen, so, like “The Bodyguard”, “From Here To Eternity” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, the cast have a lot to live up to.
There are so many great examples of films successfully transferring to the stage in the West End. The trick seems to be to remain true to the original. This was ignored by the team who bought us the last stage version of “The Full Monty”. Originally the story of a group of unemployed men in Sheffield, who decide to take matters into their own hands when jobs dry up, by performing as a group of male strippers, but the Americanised version, that admittedly did so well in the US but bombed over here, moved the whole story to Buffalo.
So you will be glad to know that, when a show by the name of “The Full Monty” comes back to London in 2014, it will be a brand new adaptation by Simon Beaufoy – the man who won the award for best original screenplay for the film itself.
The only thing the cast of “Miss Saigon” have to live up to when it returns to London in June 2014 is the last cast and the memories that everyone has of the previous production which opened 25 years ago because the film version of this show (from the same team who gave us “Les Miserables”) has not been made yet in London.
YET! Watch this space!
This show has long remained at the top of so many people’s “Top Ten” so, when it does open again, the world will surely go “Miss Saigon” crazy – or at least that part of the world that works, rests and plays in central London as destination!
Simon Harding writes for blog.theatrebreaks.co.uk and is a regular tweeter for TheatreBreaksAngels