West End Word: Awards Fever, Transatlantic Treats, Titanic Sets Sail and Lansbury Comes Home
There’s also been a flurry of new screen-to-stage (and stage-to-screen) projects.
TheaterMania is pleased to begin a new series with London sister site WhatsOnStage.com called "West End Word." Editor Theo Bosanquet shares with TheaterMania the exciting goings on in the London theater community as they relate to New York theater.
In London this month we're gearing up for our annual WhatsOnStage Awards Concert, where we'll announce the winners of the UK's original, biggest and best audience-voted theatre prizes. It takes place this year at the Prince of Wales Theatre (home of six-time nominated show The Book of Mormon) on 23 February — if any New Yorkers would like to attend you can still grab one of our premium hotel packages — and we're delighted that our hosts Rufus Hound (soon to star in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) and Mel Giedroyc (who'll be familiar to any fans of The Great British Bake Off) are returning to oversee the proceedings.
When not planning awards we've been focusing on some of the major openings in recent weeks; from Simon Russell Beale's acclaimed King Lear at the National Theatre, directed by Sam Mendes, to a new musical version of American Psycho that's being hotly tipped to transfer to the West End (and Broadway) following its run at the Almeida Theatre. And speaking of transfers, we're delighted to see how much work is crossing the pond in the coming months, including Red Velvet starring the brilliant Adrian Lester and Daniel Radcliffe's WhatsOnStage Award-nominated turn in Michael Grandage's The Cripple of Inishmaan. You're in for a treat!
Back in the UK, we're excited by the announcement of the West End premiere of the Back to the Future musical, while other upcoming "screen-to-stage" productions include Shakespeare in Love, The Full Monty, and Fatal Attraction. Inspired by this glut of adaptations, we've compiled a list of eight films we'd love to see on stage (Mrs Doubtfire the musical, anyone?). And, for those who prefer something original, we've even suggested eight original ideas that would make for great drama.
Conversely, there's plenty of stage-to-screen activity happening recently, in light of the runaway box-office success of the film versions of Mamma Mia! and Les Misérables. The most recent musical getting a cinema makeover is Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's perenially popular Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. The film is being produced by Rocket Pictures, owned by the "rocket man" himself Elton John, who knows a thing or two about musicals, having written songs for West End long runners The Lion King and Billy Elliot. Joseph will reportedly be an animated version, so Elton will no doubt be hoping it can follow in Simba and co's foot (or should that be paw?) successful steps.
In other news, we're excited to learn that Arthur Darvill could soon be replicating his starring role in the Broadway production of Once over here; while Kinky Boots is also reported to be making a transatlantic transfer in the coming few months — director Jerry Mitchell has confirmed it's happening, we're just waiting for further details. Going the other way is the recent Off-West End revival of Titanic (another WhatsOnStage Award nominee), directed by rising star Thom Southerland, which is said to be hitting Broadway later this year following a six-week run in Toronto. And no, we won't make any crass comments about the famous liner finally making it to New York!
Elsewhere, we're really looking forward to seeing The Good Wife's Martha Plimpton make her London stage debut in Jon Robin Baitz's Other Desert Cities at the Old Vic; while Broadway legend Angela Lansbury is making her long-awaited homecoming to the West End next month, reprising her role as Madame Arcati in Michael Blakemore's acclaimed production of Blithe Spirit (first seen in New York in 2009). At a recent press conference, the Murder She Wrote star revealed she runs "a very English household", in which she keeps "cans of sardines" and drinks "very strong tea". Angela, welcome home.