London Theatre Gossip & Rumours

Contains news that has not been officially confirmed (such as date of opening etc.) or has been reported as a possibility! If a rumour materialises then it will be removed from this page and put on the main listings.

If after a long period nothing more is reported concerning a particular rumour then it will be deleted from this page.

Sting musical The Last Ship to sail into the West End?

Following the news that a UK tour of the Sting musical The Last Ship is set to tour the UK next year, it could be eyeing a transfer to London’s West End late next year.

With music and lyrics by Sting, and a book by John Logan and Brian Yorkey, The Last Ship is inspired by the singer’s childhood in Wallsend in Tyne and Wear, and its connections with the shipbuilding industry. It tells the story of the community as the shipyards in the area begin to close, focussing on the Swan Hunter shipyard.

The musical premiered in America and opened on Broadway in 2014 at the Neil Simon Theatre starring Michael Esper and Rachel Tucker, with Sting joining the cast himself as Jackie White for a six-week period. The musical was nominated for two Tony Awards: Best Original Score and Best Orchestrations.

Now, a UK tour of the musical produced by Northern Stage has been announced, starring original Broadway cast member Jimmy Nail. Directed by Lorne Campbell, it is set to begin its tour at Northern Stage in Newcastle in March, before heading to Liverpool, Birmingham, Northampton, Leeds, Nottingham, Cardiff, Dublin, Edinburgh, Glasgow, York and ending in Salford in July.

The show is also produced by 59 Productions whose recent West End stage work includes Oslo at the National and the Harold Pinter Theatre, An American in Paris at the Dominion Theatre and City of Glass at the Lyric Hammersmith.

The Last Ship tried out in Chicago before the Broadway production, and has also had productions in Salt Lake City and Finland, but it has been yet to dock in the UK. With its intrinsically British storyline, a successful touring production could make its way to a West End theatre in time for the summer of 2018.

Photo courtesy Mark Savage for Northern Stage

Rock of Ages
Rock of Ages to strut back into the West End?

Rock jukebox musical Rock of Ages could be returning to the London stage soon.

Last week, the production shared a video teasing the show’s return with the tagline “Here We Go Again”. The video is available to view on the musical’s website.

Featuring hits spanning several decades of modern rock music (but focussing on the 1980s), Rock of Ages told the story of a “small town girl” who falls for a “big city rocker” who fall in love in a famous LA rock club. It includes the songs “I Wanna Know what Love Is”, “We Built This City”, “Dead or Alive” and “The Final Countdown”.

Dates, casting and a venue are yet to be announced.

The production premiered in Los Angeles in 2005 before transferring to Broadway in 2009 where it became the 29th-longest running show in Broadway history after 2,328 performances. The original Los Angeles cast included comedian Chris Hardwick, musician Kyle Gass (one-half of the band Tenacious D with Jack Black), and Laura Bell Bundy, who originated the role of Elle Woods in Legally Blonde.

It came to the UK in 2011 when it ran at the Shaftesbury Theatre. It starred Wicked actor Oliver Tompsett, X Factor winner Shayne Ward, Avenue Q actor Simon Lipkin, comedian Justin Lee Collins and Amy Pemberton, known for her role in Doctor Who. After a run at the Shaftesbury, it transferred to the Garrick and ran until November 2013. It then embarked on a UK tour in 2014, finishing at the New Wimbledon Theatre in November 2014.

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Spice World
Spice Girls musical Viva Forever! to return to London?

Is it what you really, really want? Mel C has sparked rumours that Spice Girls musical Viva Forever could make a comeback. 

Written by Ab Fab star Jennifer Saunders, the musical opened in December 2012 and featured the girl group’s biggest hits, including "Who Do You Think You Are", "Wannabe", "2 Become 1", “Spice Up Your Life” and the title track. It centred around Viva, who finds herself in the public spotlight overnight as she auditions for a TV show with her band. 

The production ran at the Piccadilly Theatre, and starred Hannah John-Kamen, Sally Ann Triplett, Siobhan Athwal and Lucy Phelps. Viva Forever wasn’t received well by the critics, and was closed after six months. 

However, it could be making a comeback. Talking  about the musical to Gay Times, Spice Girl Mel C said:  I think, at some point, yeah – at some point, I think. The music lends itself so well to musical theatre and I just think, at some point, we will [bring it back].

"It's something we talk about. We'd really love to make that work and for people, not only in London to enjoy it, but tour it and take it international. We'd love to do that.”

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Kristin Chenoweth to star in Soapdish Musical in London
Kristin Chenoweth to star in Soapdish Musical in London

Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth has announced via Watch What Happens Live that she is set to star in the new Stiles and Drewe musical adaptation of Soapdish in London.

Soapdish is based on the 1991 film directed by Michael Hoffman and written by Robert Harling and Andrew Bergman that tells the backstage story of a cast and crew working on a popular fictional television soap opera. The film starred Sally Field, Kevin Kline, Robert Downey, Jr, Whoopi Goldberg and Teri Hatcher.

George Stiles and Anthony Drewe have together written the musicals Just So!, Honk!, Soho Cinders as well as providing new material for Mary Poppins and the current London production of Half a Sixpence.

Soapdish the musical first had a reading in New York back in 2010 with Gavin Creel and Sally Ann Triplett and was last workshopped in 2012 with Kristin Chenoweth starring alongside Jane Krakowski. It is thought that the musical might have its London premiere at The Other Palace Theatre in Victoria which has recently opened as a home for new musical theatre.

Kristin Chenoweth shot to fame after creating the role of Glinda in the original Broadway production of Wicked. Her recent Broadway credits include a revival of On the Twentieth Century and You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown for which she won a Tony Award.

Further information about Soapdish the Musical are yet to be announced. Sign up to our newsletter to keep up to date!

Mary Stuart starring Juliet Stevenson and Lia Williams in West End bound.
Mary Stuart starring Juliet Stevenson and Lia Williams is West End bound?

Following the news that the Almeida Theatre are transferring their current production of Hamlet starring Andrew Scott to the West End's Harold Pinter Theatre, actress Juliet Stevenson has said on Twitter that the venue's previous production of Mary Stuart is heading to the West End in 2018 from January to March. 

Mary Stuart was a new production of Schiller's political tragedy adapted by Robert Icke, starring Juliet Stevenson and Lia Williams who both played the leading roles, deciding before the performance with a coin toss who would play Mary and who would play Elizabeth. The production ran at the Almeida Theatre in north London from 2 December 2016 to 21 January 2017.

"Two queens. One in power. One in prison. It’s all in the execution. Schiller’s political tragedy takes us behind the scenes of some of British history's most crucial days..."

The production was greeted with five star reviews, including an Editor's Pick from London Theatre:  "They're each thrilling in both roles: Stevenson the more inscrutably regal, Williams the more conflicted and quixotic. The production offers complexity and detail throughout, with some stunning supporting performances from a brilliant ensemble cast." 

Further casting and information about the West End transfer of Mary Stuart is to be announced.

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Could Andrew Scott's Hamlet find a West End home?
Could Andrew Scott's Hamlet find a West End home?

In an interview with The Sunday Times this weekend it was rumoured that the Almeida Theatre's current production of Hamlet starring Andrew Scott could find a new home in London's West End. The production, which is directed by Robert Icke, sold out performances at the north-London venue almost immediately, and continues to attract attention due to the presence of the Sherlock star in the title role.

Reviews for the production have generally been mixed, with London Theatre commenting that Scott "rises to the challenge succeeding primarily at the intellectual and haunted side of the Danish Prince" but "rarely feels spontaneous or off the cuff".  The Guardian commented that the production was "cool, clever, chic and has some good ideas, but also some that strike me as eccentrically wrong-headed" which The Telegraph called it  "more Elsi-snore than Elsinore". 

The production, which currently runs over four hours, could follow in the footsteps of the Almeida's West End transfers of Ghosts and Oresteia at Trafalgar Studios and American Psycho the Musical which went on to transfer to Broadway.

No West End venue for this new production of Hamlet has been suggested, but keep your eyes peeled for further news...

UPDATE 28/03/17: Confirmed! Read the full story

Cilla the Musical
Could Cilla the Musical head to London's West End?

It has been announced that Bill Kenwright and Laurie Mansfield will present a new musical about the life and legend of Cilla Black, based on the critically acclaimed ITV mini-series that followed the early life of Cilla Black and starred Sheridan Smith. The musical will open in Cilla's hometown at the Liverpool Empire in September 2017 ahead of a UK tour, but could the West End soon be on the cards?

Cilla - The Musical is described as "a spectacular and heart-warming musical" that follows the extraordinary life of the ordinary teenage girl from Liverpool, Priscilla White, and her rocky, yet incredible, rise to fame. By the age of just 25 she was recognized as international singing star Cilla Black. By the age of 30 she had become Britain’s favorite television entertainer headlining series’ of Blind Date, Surprise Surprise and many more. It will feature a string of Cilla's greatest hits including "Anyone Who Had a Heart", "Alfie" and "Something Tells Me" as well as contemporary sounds of Liverpool including The Beatles and The Mama and The Papas.

It was also announced that producers would be holding open auditions to find the role of Cilla, mirroring the way she was "plucked from obscurity before becoming the iconic Liverpudlian songbird."

Written by Jeff Pope and directed by Bill Kenwright and Bob Tomson, Cilla the Musical will tour to Edinburgh, Milton Keynes, Southampton, Birmingham, Blackpool, Stoke and Manchester. It will have a London run at the New Wimbledon Theatre, but hopes are a West End production could be in the pipeline.

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Rumoured West End 2017 Round-Up
Rumoured West End 2017 Round-Up

From Fun Home to Waitress, from Next to Normal to Finding Neverland - it's always fun collating the various rumours flying around theatreland. After a very busy 2016 where many of our predictions from this time last year to fruition, we decided to take a look at which shows London's West End could be welcoming over the next 12 months.

From long awaited London runs of The Addams Family, Young Frankenstein and Big, to new productions such as The Ferryman, Waitress and Sleepless the Musical - there is certainly plenty of excitement to be had in looking forward to 2017.

Read our Rumoured West End shows we want to see in 2017 feature to see which shows may be heading to London this next year.

Glenda Jackson King Lear
Could Glenda Jackson's King Lear be West End and Broadway Bound?

Following the official opening of The Old Vic's new production of King Lear starring double Academy Award-winner Glenda Jackson, The Daily Mail have reported that the production is looking for a West End and Broadway home. Glenda Jackson returns to the stage in Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy to play King Lear alongside a cast that also includes Jane Horrocks, Rhys Ifans, Simon Manyonda and Harry Melling in a production directed by Deborah Warner.

King Lear opened at the Old Vic on 4 November following previews from 25 October 2016 and is currently booking to 3 December 2016. The West End and Broadway transfer is reportedly scheduled to take place in 2017 - stay tuned for further details as they're announced.

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The Exorcist on Stage
Could stage production of The Exorcist land in London's West End?

The Birmingham Repertory Theatre in association with Bill Kenwright are presenting a new stage production of The Exorcist, adapted by John Pielmeier from the novel by William Peter Blatty. The production runs in Birmingham over Halloween from 21 October to 5 November 2016, and could potentially land in London's West End in the near future.

Adam Garcia will play Father Damien Karras opposite Jenny Seagrove and Peter Bowles. The new production is directed by Sean Mathias, who has recently opened No Man’s Land in the West End at the Wyndham's Theatre. It features designs by Anna Fleischsle, lightning by Tim Mitchell and illusions by Ben Hart.

"When the medical profession fails to provide answers to young Regan’s strange symptoms her desperate mother Chris turns to a local priest for help. But before Father Damian can tackle what’s before him, he must overcome his own shaken beliefs, as this fight is for more than just one girl’s soul…" The story is inspired by true events and was turned into an Oscar-winning film in 1973. The Birmingham Repertory Theatre have stated that the show is not suitable for those under the age of 18.

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