A hundred thousand things to see

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Images credit: BoxOffice.co.uk

Back in January I made a list of shows I hoped to see in 2016, along with some theatre resolutions. Almost three months later and I’ve been remarkably efficient in ticking things off that list! So, with a little help from BoxOffice.co.uk, I’m having a look around at new shows to add to my ‘things to see’ for this year.

Show Boat

This production of the Jerome Kern & Oscar Hammerstein II classic ran a limited season at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield from December 2015 to January 2016, and makes its overdue return to the West End very soon.

The show includes the classic song ‘Ol’ Man River’, and is set aboard a show boat on the Mississippi. It follows the fortunes of the boat’s performers & stagehands, as well as the dock workers, and captures the themes of racial prejudice & love.

All of the Crucible cast has remained in place for the transfer, with the exception of Michael Xavier (set to star alongside Glenn Close in Sunset Boulevard) & Allan Corduner who are replaced by Chris Peluso (Gaylord Ravenal) & Malcolm Sinclair (Capt. Andy Hawks).

As someone who is still making their way through the classics, I’m always pleased to see a revival or two opening up (Guys and Dolls has wowed me on several occasions already this year). Yes, most of them have been committed to film & are easily available on DVD, but there really is nothing quite like live theatre. With the classics you know you’ll be getting a good deal musically, more often than not being treated to a full orchestra. And when you have such a talented cast bringing the rest of it to life, you really can’t go wrong!

Tickets are available from £19.50. Show Boat is showing at the New London Theatre from 9 April 2016 and is currently booking until 7 January 2017.

Show Boat - Johan Persson
The Crucible cast of Show Boat
Photo credit: Johan Persson

Aladdin

Taking over from Miss Saigon, Aladdin is based on the Disney film of the same name. It premièred in Seattle in 2011, and has been playing on Broadway for a year to commercial & critical success.

It was one of the first Disney films I remember seeing, probably the first one I saw in the cinema, so the chance to see a live-action version is an intriguing prospect. The production values promise to be high.

Aladdin is the story of a “diamond in the rough” street urchin who gets mixed up with the Grand Vizier’s plans to take power from the Sultan, befriending a larger-than-life Genie along the way – and falling for the spirited Princess Jasmine. The musical features all of the songs from the hit film, with the addition of some new & reinstated numbers – Alan Menken wrote all of the music, with Howard Ashman, Tim Rice & Chad Beguelin sharing lyric duties. The latter is also responsible for the book.

The eponymous hero will be played by rising star Dean John-Wilson, who is currently putting in a first-class performance in hit new musical Miss Atomic Bomb. He has been ideally cast for the show at the St James, with a script & songbook that showcase his aptitude for comedy, a fantastic vocal range & the ability to play a romantic lead. This makes his return to the West End a thrilling prospect indeed.

Also making up the cast are former Sugababe & Eurovision singer Jade Ewen (currently appearing in hit musical In The Heights), Trevor Dion Nicholas (Broadway standby Genie), Rock of Ages star Nathan Amzi (also seen on series 3 of The Voice UK), Don Gallagher (recently in Chitty Chitty Bang Band at the West Yorkshire Playhouse) & Peter Howe (original Michael Wormwood in Matilda).

Tickets are available from £28. Aladdin is showing at the Prince Edward Theatre from 27 May 2016 and is currently booking until 1 October 2016.

James Monroe Iglehart - Cylla von Tiedemann
James Monroe Iglehart in Aladdin on Broadway
Photo credit: Cylla von Tiedemann

Dreamgirls

This show started out life as a Broadway musical in 1981, was turned into a film ten years ago, and will soon add London’s West End to its list of productions.

It is inspired by the musical hopes of acts such as The Supremes, Jackie Wilson & The Shirelles, following a fictional story of a three-girl group from Chicago called The Dreams on their rise to superstardom. Whilst it isn’t a new show, unlike recent opener ‘Motown: The Musical’ it is made up of entirely original music, written by Henry Krieger (with lyrics by Tom Eyen). And thanks to the phenomenal success of the film, unlike most unseen new stage shows many of the songs should be familiar to its audience beforehand.

Leading the cast as Effie White (famously played by Jennifer Hudson in the film) will be former Glee star Amber Riley, marking her West End debut. The rest of the cast will be announced over the course of the next few months, whilst the Sheridan Smith-led Funny Girl moves into the Savoy.

I have yet to see the film, but I am actually more interested in getting to see the stage production. Motown music has a fantastic energy that, in my opinion, is best heard live. Riley is renowned for having a strong voice, which should easily fill the beautiful surroundings of the Savoy Theatre. And with the wealth of musical theatre talent at the disposal of casting teams at the moment, I can’t wait to see what the rest of the cast list will look like.

Tickets will be available soon (you can sign up to a mailing list to be the first in the know). Dreamgirls is showing at the Savoy Theatre from November 2016.

Amber Riley - Blair Caldwell
Amber Riley
Photo credit: Blair Caldwell

I think we can all agree that London’s Theatreland is looking in great shape in 2016, and should continue to thrive. Along with the surprise continued success of homegrown musical Sunny Afternoon, long-runners The Phantom of the Opera and Les Misérables celebrate their 30th & 31st anniversaries in the West End. And in two weeks’ time it will be the Olivier Awards, which have their 40th birthday this year. I reckon I’m going to be kept very busy by the theatre once again…

This post was sponsored by BoxOffice.co.uk.

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