In the last month, no fewer than five musicals have announced West End opening dates for this year, giving London more than just the Olympics to look forward to in 2012.
“Viva Forever”, “The Bodyguard”, “Spamalot”, “Cabaret” and “Soul Sister” are the names of five new productions that have all got their eyes on a West End opening between July and November.
“Viva Forever” is the Spice Girls musical that has been troubling gossip columnists for the past… well ever since they broke up really! The job of turning the Spice Girls music into a cogent musical falls to Judy Craymer, who was the wit behind “Mamma Mia!” and comedian Jennifer Saunders: so the chances of good.
Will it be a success? Well there are enough Spice Girls fans out there to turn anything into a success – as long as they are properly mobilised. As with any West End show it depends on Londoners, foreign tourists and UK theatregoers from the regions in roughly equal proportions and as the Spice Girls do have that global fan base I should imagine that the answer to that one is a resounding YES.
And London is promising to be the perfect destination for the next few years. The recent increase in hotel capacity and quality in preperation for the Olympic games will mean that, once the Olympic circus moves on, London will have a lot of hotels keen to fill their recently refurbished rooms – and that could see some great deals from early next year – and maybe even before that! Viva Forever opens in November 2012
The Kander and Ebb musical “Cabaret” set in Weimar Berlin opens in October and will star Pop Idol winner Will Young as the EmCee and Michelle Ryan (Zoe from Eastenders) as Sally Bowles. With these two stars the show will certainly tick all the boxes for UK theatregoers and “Cabaret” is such a strong piece, never failing to leave an impression.
The two “theatre-fillers” coming into the West End over the Olympics are “Spamalot – the Monty Python musical, and “Soul Sister”. “Spamalot” is in for a short, 7 week run from 24 July: so that will give a lot of sports fans a very odd perception of English history! It also stars the obligatory Eastender, Todd Carty in this case, whilst Miss British Musicals herself, Bonnie Langford, will star as the Lady of the Lake. Kings of Comedy Marcus Brigstocke and John Culshaw will share the role of King Arthur.
The lowest key announcement came with the news of the arrival of new Tina Turner tribute musical “Soul Sister” at the Savoy Theatre. It hasn’t done alarmingly well at the hands of the critics but everyone is united in praise for the talents of Emi Wokoma who plays Tina Turner. If you are a Tina Fan and want to hear some brilliant renditions of her most famous songs including /Simply the Best, What’s Love Got to Do with It, Proud Mary, Private Dancer’ /and /River Deep Mountain High/ then beat off the atheletes and get in there quick.
Finally living up to a legend is also the job of Heather Headley who takes on the voice of none other than Whitney Houston in “The Bodyguard”. Having already wowed audiences in “The Lion King” and “Aida”, Heather Headley is well on her way to proving that no role is too demanding for her prodigious talents. “The Bodyguard” was a great film and with some extra Whitney songs thrown in for good measure there is no reason why the musical should not apeal to everyone: from West End regulars to visitors on a London Theatre Break. “The Bodyguard” goes head to head with “Viva Forever”, with previews starting in November 2012.