5 West End Productions That Should Come to Broadway
We're hoping these shows eventually make the jump across the Atlantic.
The transatlantic theater trade is in full force this season. The acclaimed New York transfers of The Ferryman and Network are currently electrifying audiences on Broadway, with Ink and Tina: The Tina Turner Musical not too far behind. But there's a whole lot more on the West End and beyond that seem Big Apple-bound, from a solo show starring Ian McKellen to acclaimed revivals of Caroline, or Change and Company. Here are our picks for the five British theater productions most likely to see a Broadway bow in the coming seasons.
Since its premiere earlier this year at the Young Vic Theatre, Matthew Lopez's drama has been frequently mentioned in the same breath as Angels in America. In fact, this American play, directed by Stephen Daldry and now on the West End, could be that beloved classic's spiritual successor. The two-part, seven-hour work is set in the New York City of the present and examines what this generation of young gay men owes to its forebears, many of whom were wiped out during the AIDS crisis. Daldry's production features a mix of British and American actors (including John Benjamin Hickey), plus a genuine legend, Vanessa Redgrave. Redgrave makes a late appearance onstage, but has a major impact and offers a nod to the E. M. Forster work on which the play is inspired.
We already imagine that they're waiting in the wings to pack up the set of Marianne Elliott's new production of Stephen Sondheim and George Furth's musical and deliver it straight to Broadway. Sondheim himself has given his blessing to this staging, which trades an unmarried male protagonist for a female one ("Bobbi" instead of "Bobby"), switches the genders and sexualities of certain characters (Jamie, a gay man replacing "Amy," sings "Not Getting Married" before his wedding to Paul), and features Patti LuPone, who once again blows off the roof as the embittered alcoholic Joanne, now a would-be mentor to our protagonist instead of a cougar-ish potential romantic partner. At this point, it's only a matter of "when" Bobbi will take New York City by storm, not "if." Tick-tock.
You unlock this play with the key of imagination. Though the trend of turning television shows into stage plays seems to have died off, there's an upcoming West End transfer of Anne Washburn's The Twilight Zone to look out for in the new year. An amalgamation of several original Twilight Zone scripts by Rod Serling, Charles Beaumont, and Richard Matheson, Washburn adapts eight beloved classic episodes, including "Eye of the Beholder" and "The Shelter," into a hodgepodge of shadow and substance, of things and ideas. Reviews of the stage production were mixed, but with an upcoming TV reboot created by Jordan Peele for CBS's paid streaming platform, the time is nigh for The Twilight Zone to take an American stage by storm.
To celebrate his 80th birthday, beloved knighted actor Sir Ian McKellen is embarking on a new solo tour. "The show starts with Gandalf and will probably end with an invitation to act with me on stage," McKellen says of the production, which will play one- or two-night stands in 80 different venues across the United Kingdom as part of a massive effort to raise funds for each one. It's a great, well-meaning scheme that few others have ever attempted, and knowing McKellen's popularity in the US, it would not be surprising if he journeyed to various theaters across the pond, too.
Following sold-out engagements at the Chichester Festival Theatre and the Hampstead Theatre, Michael Longhurst's acclaimed production of Jeanine Tesori and Tony Kushner's beautiful musical is currently running on the West End, and it's high time for the show to be revived in New York City. Caroline, which premiered at the Public Theater, got the short end of the stick on Broadway, running only 136 performances after opening the same season as Avenue Q and Wicked. It's time for its triumphant return to Broadway, and while Tonya Pinkins isn't starring in the British mounting (the acclaimed Sharon D. Clarke heads the company), wouldn't it be a fan's delight if Pinkins got to reprise her performance here 15 years later?