Even though going to see a show has over taken watching a sporting event as the must-do event for visitors to the UK it is amazing how many people come to London each year and don’t take the opportunity to see one of it world-renowned musicals.
It is not even as if they will have seen them all already: every year new shows open with new stars on the posters and billboards.
So what new musicals has 2014 got in store for visitors to London’s Theatreland.
I am seeing two new shows this week: I Can’t Sing, the Harry Hill show about X Factor and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, the musical version of the movie comedy of the same name.
I Can’t Sing takes a comic look at the world of reality TV and the first previews have brought the audience to their feet. As the story is an original story I have no idea what to expect, which is nice because original stories in London’s Theatreland are far and few between.
Of course if you don’t go to the theatre very often then it is quite nice to see something that you know you will stand a fair chance of enjoying.
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels may be a new show but it’s silver-screen cousin is well loved and the stars of the stage version, Robert Lindsay, Rufus Hound and Samantha Bond are well known and well loved. If you don’t know the story it is about two con-men who find themselves “working” the same Mediterranean seaside resort. So they decide to have a “friendly” competition to see who will be allowed to stay and who must move on, which is how they find themselves both trying to woo an American heiress.
The musical did really well in the States and with a great team on board for the London version I’m expecting great things!
It is being performed in the very lush surroundings of the Savoy Theatre so that should add to the experience too.
A new show that many people of course will know is Miss Saigon. It was a smash hit in London 25 years ago and is returning for a very special revival. Best known for landing a helicopter on stage at the end of Act One, the story is the heart breaking take of an American soldier who falls in love with a local Saigon girl.
It is by the same people who wrote Les Miserables, so if you have seen that on stage or at the cinema I think you will find that you will like Miss Saigon. It opens at the Prince Edward Theatre in May.
Looking to later in the year, two more big shows are coming to town. Memphis and Made In Dagenham
Memphis is another import from Broadway. It is about a black soul singer and a white radio DJ as they struggle to get the music they love accepted and heard in Segregated 1950’s Memphis, Tennessee. I’ve just been sent a promotional CD of the songs but you can dig up some of the tracks on YouTube from the American version – look out for “Memphis Lives In Me”. The show will star Beverley Knight who is playing Rachel Moran in The Bodyguard at the moment
Made In Dagenham is the story of the ladies who went on strike for equal pay at Ford Motor’s Dagenham branch way back in the 60’s. It’s another Musical adaptation of a successful movie but David Arnold (who wrote the music for most of the recent James Bond films) has come up with a great 60’s sound track to fizz the story along and the show opens at the Adelphi Theatre in October.
Lastly London welcomes to town one of those golden oldies – The Pajama Game. It’s about a girl who gets the work force all riled up when their pay demands are refused by the management... does this sound familiar? Well this one is set in a pajama factory in the American mid-west, rather than a car factory in Dagenham and is full of classic old 50’s musical numbers like Steam Heat, Hernando’s Hideaway, Once a Year Day and Hey There.
If I was to pick one that would be my “Reason to Visit London” it would have to be Miss Saigon but all of them should be a good highlight to a short break if you are looking for an excuse to come!
Author Simon Harding runs www.theatrebreaks.com and he recently wrote London Theatre and Theatre Breaks – a 70 page e-guide to getting the best out of a trip to the theatre – that you can download for free.