Supporting new writing is something of a passion of mine, but in a world that is so full of rich diversity, my theatre interests stretch far and wide. I’ve also said that there is room for every type of musical in the West End, from the rise of the popular jukebox musicals to – my personal favourite – the big melodramatic epics. Over this past year, there has also been a growing surge of revivals returning to London’s Theatreland; some which fare better than others. Crazy For You, for instance,was the hit of the summer season at the Open Air Theatre, Regent’s Park and, although it may have succumbed to early closure, it was just as well received when it subsequently transferred to the Novello Theatre. The most recent arrival which replaced the long-running Priscilla: Queen of the Desert at the Palace Theatre in the New Year, and audiences have been raving about it since that first indoor-rainy night.
The reason that people love revivals is that they either bring back fond memories for them of the last time it came to town, or provide an exciting opportunity to see something you may have missed that last time around. I, like many others, have experienced both of these instances for myself: the first musical I ever saw was Jesus Christ Superstar on a school outing and it started me down a path that has proved so rewarding that it will always be a show that holds a special place in my heart. Although I couldn’t say that I was an avid fan of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s televised casting programmes, I am rather looking forward to the next in the series in which the search for a Jesus to front the planned arena tour of JCS will ensue, mainly because of the show choice which will theme this particular programme. Ever since hearing what a success the new Toronto production of JCS, which is now doing just as well on Broadway, was, I’ve been eager as a beaver to see the show return to our shores, so this arena tour is something I’m enthusiastically awaiting. In terms of shows I have missed, there are of course the obvious big-hitters such as Miss Saigon, Cats and the likes of, which I never had the opportunity to see live on stage. In more recent years, the one show which always springs to mind when thinking about ones I missed out on is Lord of the Rings. I’ve read J. R. R. Tolkien’s classic novels multiple times and the spectacular film trilogy that followed them will always remain among my favourite movies, so seeing the world of Middle-Earth and its inhabitants brought to life on stage is something I will always regret not having seen.
Everyone has favourite musicals which they would like to see back in the West End. Last year, I fell in love with Lend Me A Tenor and the talented cast who executed every brilliant aspect of farce with unbounded perfection. I’ve rarely enjoyed the first-time experience of a show as much as I did that one, and in another case of early closure, I felt its absence was a sore loss for the West End – as was Love Never Dies. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom sequel was a visually-stunning production with a sumptuous and passionate score and, although it undoubtedly had its critics, it was exactly to my taste. Lend Me A Tenor and Love Never Dies are definitely two musicals I should like to see revived, but it’s not only musicals from the past few years that I have on my own little list. Last Saturday, I stumbled across The King and I while flicking through the TV channels. That film is one from my childhood, and one which I have always adored. For all the times I’ve seen the onscreen version though, the onstage version I never saw – and I really wish that I had. I think if The King and I were to announce its West End return tomorrow, I’d be one of the first in line for tickets.
These shows only represent a fraction of the missed opportunities I’d like to see offered up again. The extensive amount of shows rolled out on the theatre production line can only be a good thing for the health of the industry, which always needs fresh juice to keep it alive; the downside of this though is that it’s nigh on impossible to see everything you would like to. Like I say, these are just some of my favourite shows which I would like to see revived and not everyone will agree with my particular choices. We all have our personal favourites – so which are yours?
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)
Wednesday 2nd May 2012