Every new year brings with it a new batch of shows to the West End. Quite what they may be, we don’t always know, but theatre fans always have great fun speculating about it. Some rumours turn out to be just that, but sometimes the whisperings turn out to have more volume to their truth.
Baz Bamigboye wrote an interesting article in the Mail Online last week that looked at some of the shows which may or may not be turning up in our West End theatres this coming year, and there were some interesting shows mentioned. One in particular couldn’t have more poignant timing if it tried – something which some people have been a little cynical about. The musical adaption of 1992 hit film The Bodyguard has been a pet project of producers Michael Harrison and David Ian for the past few years though, so those with a sceptical mind may find that those cynical suspicions are in fact unfounded (television producers are another story however). Now the production is set to open at the Adelphi Theatre in November 2012, with Thea Sharrock to direct and Broadway star Heather Headley to take on the title role of Rachel Marron, which was the part that the late singer Whitney Houston played in the film opposite Kevin Costner. A selection of Houston’s big hits such as ‘How Will I Know’, ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’ and ‘One Moment In Time’ are set to be added to the musical’s score, alongside the songs which featured in the original film, including ‘I Want To Run To You’, ‘Queen Of The Night’, ‘I Have Nothing’ and, of course, the timeless ‘I Will Always Love You’ which was one of Houston’s biggest hits and remains synonymous with The Bodyguard to this day. The film still dwells within that realm of ‘classic films’ and is certainly a personal favourite of mine. Its popularity could be considered detrimental to the move from screen to stage, but the musical adaption of another ‘classic film’ proved to be one of 2011’s biggest success stories despite similar doubts. Ghost took the theatre world by storm and is soon to debut on the boards of Broadway, as well as scooping three awards at last Sunday’s Whatsonstage.com Awards 2012. This, along with the ready-made audience of Whitney Houston fans (all the more ready with her recent passing), gives the show a very good chance of success.
No other casting news for The Bodyguard has of yet emerged, but the show recently launched its official website, so fans of the film/show can take a look at www.thebodyguardmusical.com.
Another film adaption is also set to enter London’s West End in spring 2012, this time in the form of a play version. Technically, David Seidler’s script for The King’s Speech was originally intended for the stage, but before it was performed he developed it for the screen, in a move which turned out pretty well for him. The film, which starred Colin Firth as King George VI, cleaned up at The Oscars in 2011, winning four awards, including a Best Original Screenplay one for Seidler. Now it is looking to secure similar success in the West End with plans to move into the Wyndhams Theatre from 22nd March 2012. The stage production of The King’s Speech has only recently made its theatrical premiere, opening at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford, Surrey on 2nd February 2012 in what was the ‘fulfilment of a very long dream’ for Seidler. The play stars Charles Edwards as the king with the stammer, alongside Jonathan Hyde as his speech therapist and Emma Fielding as Queen Elizabeth. It will tour the UK until it hits the West End this March, visiting Nottingham, Bath, Brighton, Richmond and Newcastle.
One show which has been the subject of West End speculation for some time now is the 2011 Broadway smash-hit The Book of Mormon. From the creators of South Park, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the satirical musical of the two Mormon missionaries has taken the theatre word by storm, with nine Tony Awards to its name and tickets like gold-dust. Theatre fans from our shores have been calling for it to transfer here – every announcement of a show’s closure has immediately brought about speculation that The Book of Mormon could be the show to replace it. According to Bamigboye, 2013 is the year that will finally happen.
He reported that a deal has been signed to bring the show to the West End, opening at the Prince of Wales Theatre in March 2013. It would be interesting to see the British audience’s reaction to the show; its humour is on the edge to say the least and concerns have been raised as to whether that will translate well enough over here. I don’t think these doubters give the British theatre-goers enough credit however. Everyone I know who has listened to The Book of Mormon cast recording has expressed their undying love for it, professing it to be the best thing they’ve heard in a long time. Let’s not forget either that Robert Lopez, co-writer/composer on Avenue Q, also co-wrote the music for The Book of Mormon. Avenue Q has been a favourite with British theatre-goers and, while it may be a different beast to The Book of Mormon, if a show that includes puppet sex and decidedly adult language can be a success in the West End, I don’t see why The Book of Mormon can’t either.
I would love to see The Book of Mormon in the West End. It is the most successful original musical to emerge for some years and that is something which should certainly be encouraged and supported. Okay, it may not be one to take the kids to, but don’t us grown-ups deserve to have a laugh every now and again? The Book of Mormon is different, exciting and full of tongue-in-cheek humour and most definitely has a place here. In terms of casting, I know a ton of actors who would be chomping at the bit to be involved with this show.
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)
Tuesday 21st February 2012