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...
Rumoured West End shows we want to see in 2016
Last week we published our list of top West End shows that we're excited for in 2016. Once again, London is set for another exciting season with a generous selection of new plays, musicals and revivals to suit every taste.
Whilst we're certainly excited about what's on offer, we couldn't help speculating about which shows are rumoured to be coming to London in 2016 - from Broadway transfers to original home-grown hits. Below is our round-up of shows that we'd love to see hit the West End throughout the next twelve months. Fingers crossed - 2016 may just be the biggest year for new theatre yet!
One of the most exciting upcoming West End productions is a new production of Henry Krieger and Tom Eyen 1981 hit musical 'Dreamgirls' which is rumoured to be making its West End premiere late 2016 or early 2017. Produced by Sonia Friedman Productions, the show held open casting in May 2015 in an effort to find untapped talent to bring the iconic show to life. The show is rumoured to be directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw ('The Book of Mormon', 'Aladdin') but no further cast or creative team have been revealed. Our fingers are firmly crossed that London gets to see this incredible show in 2016.
UPDATE 05/02/2016: Confirmed! For the full story click here
The Hunger Games
Production team Imagine Nation and Lionsgate announced last year that they would be bringing a live stage adaptation of the hit franchise to London in Summer of 2016 in a brand new purpose built venue in Wembley Park, next to the Wembley Arena. Using immersive and innovative staging techniques, the show is expected to be a spectacle like no other, bringing the brutal world of Panem (a dystopia where representatives battle to the death in order to be the last person standing) to life live on stage. Word has since gone cold on the project, but planning applications submitted to the council have shown that the wheels are certainly in motion for what could be a brand new style of theatrical entertainment.
Walt Disney Theatricals and the National Theatre are reportedly working together to bring a new stage adaptation of the classic tale of the little wooden boy to the stage in a production designed for family audiences. Written by Enda Walsh and directed by John Tiffany, the adaptation has apparently been work-shopping at the Southbank venue throughout last year, and if all goes well could form part of the National's 2016 Christmas season. Other names attached to the project include designer Bob Crowley and choreographer Steven Hoggett, meaning that some of the industry's top talents are behind it. After this year's disappointing Christmas offering of 'wonder.land', we can only "Wish Upon a Star" for this show to hit the stage later this year.
The Old Vic Theatre are currently preparing to bring Groundhog Day to the stage in 2016, a brand new musical adaptation written by 'Matilda' composer Tim Minchin. Following a changing of the guard at the venue, more productions have become the order of the day, and Matthew Warchus has also hinted that he'd like to be involved with a musical adaptation of the recent film Pride. Could we be lucky enough to get two new musicals out of the Old Vic?
Broadway continues to house shows with the most West End potential. Producing a show in New York is significantly more expensive and riskier than opening in London, and once shows have achieved a credible level of success, eyes begin to turn across the pond to see what potential a second market may have. Many shows however take their time to mount a London production, and few come in direct from Broadway - only those shows that appear to have little-to-no changes, such as Kinky Boots, The Book of Mormon and Beautiful seem to get fast-tracked. There are countless examples of over-eager Producers misreading the market and finding shows that worked successfully on Broadway don't find an audience in the UK. Examples such as 'The Drowsy Chaperone' and 'Spring Awakening' are two of the biggest recent flop transfers. Adversely, sometimes a production that didn't fare quite so well in New York can be given a new lease of life in London, for example 'Legally Blonde', which delighted audiences at the Savoy Theatre, but only ran for 595 performance on Broadway.
The past two Broadway seasons included a number of sure-fire hits that are continuing to pull in huge grosses at the box office, but which of these could we potentially see in London in 2016?
The King and I
This classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical opened to rave reviews at the Lincoln Center last year, and saw it take home the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical and Best Actress in a Musical for both leading and supporting roles for its female stars, Kelli O'Hara and Ruthie Ann Miles. Bartlett Sher's production reinvented a number of key scenes and managed to feel both fresh and relevant, thanks to a stunningly simple design and a number of incredible performances. The production is rumoured to be heading to London in 2016, but would require an expansive stage such as The Barbican (where LCT's transfer of 'South Pacific' played), or even the semi-thrust of the New London Theatre (which incidentally becomes available on 12 March when War Horse closes).
The musical hasn't been seen in London since the Palladium production back in 2000 that starred Elaine Paige in the role of Mrs Anna. Sixteen years is more than enough time to be away, and we think this glorious production will be enjoyed by London audiences. Fingers crossed Kelli O'Hara makes the transfer with the show - which in our recent interview she said she would certainly be excited for...
Gary Barlow's musical version of the hit film starring Johnny Depp had a rough ride in New York with critical backlash and a lack of nominations in any of the Tony Award categories. The musical actually had its premiere at the Leicester Curve Theatre in 2012, but was met with lukewarm reviews which led Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein to pull the plug, fire the writers and start again. 'Take That' front man Barlow was drafted in to create a new score, and Weinstein was belligerent in getting the show publicity on the Tony Awards telecast before it had even opened, which led to much hostility in the Broadway community.
The musical has been running at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on Broadway since April 2015 and has managed to defy its reviews and press to pull in excellent grosses, appealing to families and new theatre audiences. With Matthew Morrison leaving the Broadway production on 24 January 2016, could he be in talks to bring the show to London? We're not sure. Hopefully we'll find someone with a more authentic Scottish accent to bring this heart-warming and sweet show to London - but with Barlow's name having much more recognition in the UK, we're confident that Peter Pan will land in the West End once again sometime this year.
UPDATE 12/02/2016: Confirmed! For the full story click here
Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Rumours had been flying throughout all of 2015 that this Tony Award-winning production would transfer to the West End and were confirmed when original star and writer John Cameron Mitchell revealed at the Tony Awards that the show is "definitely coming to the West End". Following the success of Neil Patrick Harris in the role on Broadway, the creative team are apparently "trying to get the right person" to play the title role. Answers on a postcard, please.
This five-time Tony Award-winning musical was the Broadway smash-hit of 2014 and transferred from a modest production off-Broadway complete with an incredible cast and astute direction. Based on the graphic novel by Alison Bechdel, the musical features a wonderful score by Jeanine Tesori and was without a doubt one of the best musicals we have ever seen. Producers have expressed interest at a West End run, although the question of venue could stall talks until an ideal space becomes available. The modest scale of the show would mean it would look perfect in the National's Dorfman, as the intimacy is really required to pull off the emotional connection with the audience. With this show, it's not just a question of 'if' but more 'when', as every Tony Award winning Best Musical has eventually transferred to the West End since 1991 (sad times, 'Will Rodgers Follies'), with the exception of A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder (2014) who are also planning a London production following their imminent closure on Broadway...
Another successful Brit on Broadway is director and choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, whose visually stunning production of this Gershwin classic was a hot contender for Best Musical at last year's Tony Awards, and was one of the most successful new musicals of the year. Originating in Paris, the show transferred to the Palace Theatre in New York featuring breath-taking choreography and masterful set design. The timeless story and the public familiarity with both the film and the score of Gershwin hits make this a sure fire London hit, and it would be marvellous to see Wheeldon's show make the leap back over the pond to London's West End.
Daniel Evans' five star production of the classic Jerome Kern musical has been lauded by critics after opening at the Sheffield Crucible, and talks of a West End transfer are on everyone's lips. After a successful period in charge of the venue, with hit musical productions such as 'Oliver!' and 'Anything Goes' under his belt, Evans is moving to replace Jonathan Church at the Chichester Festival Theatre, hopefully not before he oversees a London transfer of his latest hit.
UPDATE 12/02/2016: Confirmed! For the full story click here
Garry Barlow's second musical theatre offering is based on the hit film and play 'Calendar Girls' and features lyrics by Tim Firth. After it was announced this week that Olivier award-winning choreographer Stephen Mear has joined the creative team, speculation has gown once again for a West End transfer, following a run at the Leeds Grand Theatre and the Lowry in Salford. West End leading lady Joanna Riding is currently starring in the show, and with the Shubert Organization on board as co-producer, we'd be very surprised if London doesn't see this new musical sometime later this year.
'Strictly Come Dancing' star Tom Chambers is heading this revival of Noel Coward's classic alongside Laura Rogers which is on UK tour before supposedly transferring into the West End in 2016. Whilst it's certainly one of Coward's most popular works, there have been countless West End revivals in recent years, so here's hoping Tom Attenborough's production feels fresh.
Peter and the Starcatcher
Walt Disney Theatrical's multiple Tony Award-winning play based on the 2006 novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson and adapted for the stage by Rick Elice was a huge hit on Broadway back in 2012. It will receive its UK premiere at a regional theatre, in a new production directed by Luke Sheppard before transferring into the West End, possibly in time for Christmas 2016. The play provides a backstory for the character Peter Pan, and serves as a prequel to J. M. Barrie's Peter and Wendy. Does the West End have space for this AND Finding Neverland? Only time will tell...
Celebrities on stage certainly continue to draw in the punters across the West End, with Benedict Cumberbatch and Bradley Cooper setting box offices soaring throughout 2015. There are a number of celebrity led productions currently in the pipeline, including the long rumoured Al Pacino in 'Salome'. The Hollywood star is currently starring on Broadway in David Mamet's latest play 'China Doll' which has been hounded by critics amid rumours that Pacino is being fed his lines and reading from a teleprompter. Perhaps the experience is enough to put him off live theatre for the near future, but it would certainly be quite a coup for whichever producer gets him to London.
Patrick Stewart and Ian Mckellen are also expected to star in a new production of 'No Man’s Land' which could hit the West End in 2016. The pair delighted audiences at the Theatre Royal Haymarket when they starred in 'Waiting for Godot' together - they seem to be the ultimate theatre dream-team.
Audra McDonald in 'Lady Day...'
Six-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald comes to London for a one-off concert later this month at the Leicester Square Theatre. The songstress has yet to perform in the West End, and 2016 could certainly be her year. Whilst slated to star in the upcoming Broadway production of Shuffle Along, she has already announced a three month hiatus from the show over the summer months due to a 'previous contracted commitment'...She could sing the phonebook live each night at Drury Lane and still manage to enchant - so our fingers are firmly crossed for more of her in London throughout 2016.
UPDATE 15/01/2016: Confirmed! For the full story click here
All of these productions are only rumours. Continue to check our latest news page to keep yourself up to date with all new show announcements.