This week sees the West End opening of Hand to God, direct from Broadway where it closed just last month, while March brings us Motown (already in previews at the Shaftesbury) and then Aladdin from May. They join a slew of long-running hits that have also come to London from New York, including Beautiful, The Book of Mormon, Jersey Boys, Kinky Boots, The Lion King and Wicked.
The National Theatre, too, will soon import the off-Broadway hit play The Flickto the Dorfman Theatre, playing from April 13; Broadway originated plays feature strongly in the repertoire elsewhere, with new British productions of August Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom now playing in the Lyttelton and Lorraine Hansberry's Les Blancs to be seen in the Olivier from March 22.
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
Meanwhile, travelling the other way around, Broadway is soon to see Rupert Goold directing a new production of the musical American Psycho that he first premiered at the Almeida, the theatre in North London where he is artistic director (and where his hit production of King Charles III also originated, before transferring to the West End and then Broadway where it has recently completed its run).
Is this a feature of globalisation of theatre at work? Will each city's theatrical culture become entirely interchangeable? Just as we now have a Starbucks on every corner in both London and New York, will a walk down Broadway be the same as a walk up Shaftesbury Avenue? Yes and no. We simply play to each other's strengths. London has a thriving subsidised sector of theatres like the National, Almeida, Donmar and the RSC, all of whom have taken shows to Broadway in recent years, while New York's commercial sector still develops more new musicals than any other city on earth.
Transatlantic exchanges are a big feature on a wonderful new exhibition currently being staged at London's Victoria and Albert Museum called Curtain Up!, running here to August 31 then itself transferring to New York's Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Centre from October 19. And many of the productions mentioned above play starring roles: there's a set model for Matilda, costumes for The Lion King and The Phantom of the Opera (including, of course, the mask), and a walk-through corridor that replicates the set of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, amongst numerous other exhibits.
It offers a delightful window into the (inter)dependence both cities have upon each other, theatrically speaking — and long may it continue. For news and reviews of New York theatre, be sure to visit our sister site, New York Theatre Guide.com.
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