West End Word: WhatsOnStage Awards Win All Around, While Rice and Lloyd Webber Hit Back and We Will Rock You Rocks Out
Our readers celebrate the best of UK theater, while two musical legends bemoan the end of an era.
We're still on a high following this year's WhatsOnStage Awards Concert, which took place a few weeks back (February 23) at the Prince of Wales Theatre in the heart of Theatreland. Hosted by Rufus Hound, currently starring in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and Mel Giedroyc, taking a break from The Great British Bake-Off, it proved a real night to remember — and that's not just a reference to the victory of Titanic in the Best Off-West End Production category...
The Prince of Wales is currently home to The Book of Mormon, which scooped four awards including Best New Musical. Cast members Gavin Creel, Alexia Khadime, and Stephen Ashfield also picked up prizes, and all were in attendance to collect their prizes on the night (well, they didn't have to travel very far!). Others collecting audience-voted prizes included former Harry Potter costars Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint, named Best Actor in a Play and London Newcomer of the Year, respectively, who embraced each other warmly in the press room afterwards (awwww).
Radcliffe won for his role in The Cripple of Inishmaan, which opens on Broadway next month. The production ran here last year as part of the star-studded Michael Grandage Company season, which claimed four awards including Best Director for Grandage. We were also delighted to honour Barry Humphries — aka Dame Edna Everage — with Best Solo Performance for his farewell tour Eat, Pray, Laugh!, and enjoyed performances from stars including Cynthia Erivo (I Can't Sing!), Rosalie Craig (The Light Princess), and Willemijn Verkaik (Wicked), who closed the show with a rousing rendition of "Let it Go" — just as well John Travolta didn't have to introduce her!
You can catch up with all the coverage from the Concert, including video highlights, acceptance speeches, and photo galleries, by visiting awards.whatsonstage.com. Speaking of Awards, yesterday saw the announcement of the shortlists for the 2014 Olivier Awards, our equivalent of the Tonys, which will be announced at the Royal Opera House on Sunday, April 13. Find out the shows and stars in contention here. Elsewhere in news, continuing last month's screen-to-stage theme we recently reported on the confirmation of the West End premiere of Made in Dagenham, which will star Gemma Arterton and open and the Adelphi Theatre in October; while long-runner Billy Elliot has added Ruthie Henshall (Chicago, Les Misérables) to its roll call of stars.
Two shows that won't be enjoying long runs are Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's new musicals From Here to Eternity and Stephen Ward, which will both close on March 29. Some commentators have branded the simultaneous closures as the end of an era, and the former collaborators have both spoken out to bemoan the difficulty of opening new material in the West End. So we thought we'd run a poll to find out our readers' views on the issue of whether original musicals have a future in our commercial theaters — take part by clicking here.
And in other closures news, hot off the press, it's just been announced that We Will Rock You will be rocking out of the West End's Dominion Theatre on May 31 following a 12-year run. The show, the fifth-longest running musical currently in the West End, was cocreated by Brian May, Roger Taylor, and Ben Elton, who said today, "We want to thank every one of the many hundreds of incredible musical theater artists, musicians, and crew with whom we've had the privilege of working at the Dominion since 2002. And of course the incredible audiences who have rewarded them with over four and a half thousand standing ovations!"
Meanwhile on the gossip front we report on some recent transatlantic developments. Rumors are swirling that Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel's recent turn in Sweeney Todd for the New York Philharmonic could make its way to London, while a new musical version of U.S. comedy series Scrubs is likely to move in the same direction if the project comes to fruition (we certainly hope it does!).
And finally, we're delighted to see that the Apollo Theatre, which hit the headlines back in December following the collapse of a section of the ceiling during a performance of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, is reopening in a couple of weeks (March 26). Curious Incident has moved next door to the Gielgud, so taking its place on the Apollo stage will be the West End transfer of Let the Right One In, adapted from the Swedish novel and cult-hit film by John Ajvide Lindqvist.
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