The West End theatre scene has been looking rather more promising as of late, with a run of original musicals doing rather well for themselves and more on the way: Matilda The Musical, Ghost The Musical, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Viva Forever, The Bodyguard. It’s not just limited to musical theatre that springs up from our shores though. Broadway’s Rock of Ages opened here in 2011 and is still going strong while the smash hit that is The Book of Mormon is preparing to wing its way across to us in early 2013. Details about further Broadway transfers to the UK have also been announced, most recently for musicals American Idiot and [title of show].
The one-act stage musical American Idiot is based on punk rock band Green Day’s 2004 Grammy Award-winning album of the same name. Green Day fans here in the UK will no doubt be overjoyed to learn that they’ll soon be able to hear such songs as ‘Boulevard of Broken Dreams’, ‘Wake Me Up When September Ends’, ‘21’ and of course the title track ‘American Idiot’ performed live on stage when the musical hits our shores this autumn. It will be embarking on a UK tour in 2012, starting at the Mayflower Theatre, Southampton on 8th October 2012. From there, it goes on to visit Manchester, Glasgow and Cardiff before coming to the Hammersmith Apollo in London on 4th December 2012 for a six-day run.
American Idiot features the original story of three life-long friends who find themselves facing a choice between their dreams and the safety of suburbia in a post 9/11 world, a journey that was described as “thrilling, emotionally charged and moving” by The New York Times. Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong wrote the book for the musical, which was directed by New York’s Michael Mayer (who will also be steering the show in the UK). It also includes choreography by Steven Hoggett, set design by Christine Jones, lighting by Kevin Adams and music supervision/orchestrations/arrangements by Tom Kitts.
The names of the touring cast were released yesterday and include Alex Nee (Johnny), Thomas Hettrick (Tunny), Casey O’Farrell (Will), Alyssa DiPalma (Whatsername), Jenna Rubaii (The Extraordinary Girl) and Kennedy Caughell (Heather), along with Trent Saunders as drug-dealing St. Jimmy, the role that Green Day’s Armstrong has played onstage in the past.
The musical closed at Broadway’s St. James Theatre in April 2011 after 422 performances, but not before earning itself two Tony Awards and a Grammy. Now it’s the UK‘s turn to enjoy Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt and Tre Cool’s music through the eyes of musical theatre.
[title of show] is a one act musical which charts its own journey from the creative process to the stage. The hit show will be coming to the West End in 2013, with the original Broadway cast in tow.
Jeff Bowen (music and lyrics) and Hunter Bell (book) came up with the show in 2004 for the New York Musical Theatre Festival, quickly realising that their real-life conversations about creating a musical were more entertaining than any fictional story they could imagine. Their writing experiences with friends Susan Blackwell and Heidi Blickenstaff helped with the script’s growth, and with the addition of Larry Pressgrove as musical director and orchestrator, [title of show] went on to become an award-winning show (3 Obie Awards in 2006) under the direction of Michael Berresse. With each new production, the script is updated and changed to fit with the show and the cast’s experiences since the last.
The Broadway show closed at the Lyceum Theatre in October 2008 and has since been followed by several regional productions. The creative team double as the onstage performers, and it was the belief that their continuation in the UK roles would make [title of show] the most “authentic, resonant and high-quality production it can be” which has seen its transfer delayed. Still, with all five creatives/cast members having confirmed their intent to bring it to the UK, it looks like ‘the musical about two guys writing a musical about two guys writing a musical’ will be here before London theatregoers know it.
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)
Thursday 26th July 2012