I’ve made mention before of the lack of inspiration behind the creation of some new musicals. The use of popular trends as subject matter for musical theatre is becoming more commonplace, the recent musical based on the life of Britain’s Got Talent singer Susan Boyle serving as an example of this practice. I suggested that the next thing we’d be seeing would be Eastenders The Musical and, though I wrote that with tongue firmly in cheek, it was written with the knowledge that a similar production was in development.
A stadium musical celebrating long-running soap ITV Coronation Street opens this week at the M.E.N Arena in Manchester. Originally intended to open there in March, the scope of the production resulted in delays and it instead makes its debut on Wednesday 9th May 2012. Street of Dreams takes inspiration from some of the most famous moments in the soap’s 51-year history and features some of ‘the Street’s’ classic past and present characters, including William Roache (Ken Barlow), Julie Goodyear (Bet Lynch), Kym Marsh (Michelle Connor) and Kevin Kennedy (Curly Watts), among others. Many of the musical numbers come from an album written for Coronation Street’s 50th anniversary in 2010, with such songs as ‘Eh Chuck’ and ‘Norman Bates With A Briefcase’ set to appear in the show. With an 84ft set that recreates the iconic cobbled street and a song-and-dance spectacle that creator Trisha Ward has compared to Moulin Rouge, Street of Dreams aims to use the unmitigated success of ITV’s popular soap and take it to new and unprecedented areas by bringing together theatregoers and Coronation Street’s dedicated following of viewers.
BAFTA-winning film and stage director John Stephenson has lent his magic touch to the musical, which includes a 25-piece orchestra and the Olivier Award-winning choreography team of Stephen Mear and Karen Bruce, along with a 38-strong West End cast, featuring such names as Jodie Prenger. Street of Dreams is the brain-child of writer, composer and lyricist Trisha Ward, who first began thinking of taking on the challenge four years ago when (false) rumours of a Coronation Street musical started circulating. After presenting the idea to the ITV bosses, the wheels were set into motion and the task of turning the soap into a full onstage production began.
Paul O’Grady fronts the musical as the narrator, having been a life-long Coronation Street fan. O’Grady has spoken about his excitement at being involved, saying that, “Chunks of script from 30 years ago are engraved in my memory so to relive it all alongside unforgettable characters and talent on the stage, revisiting such iconic scenes from across the years, is just brilliant.”
After making its world premiere in Manchester this Wednesday (9th-10th May 2012), Street of Dreams goes on the road to play further dates at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast (21st-22nd May 2012) and the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle Upon Tyne (29th-30th May 2012). If it receives a warm reaction from audiences, Coronation Street executive producer Kieran Roberts has revealed that more tour dates could be in the pipeline.
I don’t know if Street of Dreams is the type of musical that is ‘up my street’, but it does look as though a lot of thought has gone into making this a high-quality production that is more about entertainment value than just making a profit. It is certain to appeal to many people, and if it can live up to the hype that has surrounded it so far, then who knows; Eastenders The Musical might actually become a reality too. I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether this new development in the world of theatre is a good thing or not though.
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)
Monday 7th May 2012)