Sunday, 1 June 2014

10 shows that closed too soon...

The 2006 Broadway revival production of A Chorus Line was brought over to London's West End in February 2013 and it had previously been announced that the show would only play a limited run at the London Palladium. After receiving numerous 4 ad 5 star reviews and being named 'Timless and Thrilling' by the Dail Mail the show closed the following August after previously booking until January 2014. The show takes a behind-the-scenes look at 17 hopefuls auditioning for just eight places in a new Broadway musical, it has a book by James Kirkwood and Nicholas Date, with music by Marvin Hamlisch and lyrics by Edward Kleban. The production will reportedly embark on a European tour before returning to the UK for a tour "beginning in autumn 2014".

Cameron Mackintosh's first original musical in over a decade was Betty Blue Eyes, opening at the Novello Theatre in April 2011 but closed the following September. The show is set in a Yorkshire village after the Second World War, where rationing presents a challenge for the locals who want to celebrate the Queen's Royal wedding to Prince Philip in style. Looking to slaughter an illegally raised pig (a blue-eyed creature named Betty) for the event, chaos ensues when the sow is stolen and a food inspector arrives, determined to stop such activities. The musical features a book by Ron Cowen and Daniel Lipman with music and lyrics by  George Stile and Anthony Drewe. The show is currently touring the UK. 

Opening at the Novello Theatre in November 2007, Desperately Seeking Susan closed just a month later. Although the musical wasn't a favourite amongst reviewers it was a favourite with fans. The new musical based on the 1985 MGM film of the same name set to the greatest hits of Blondie. Amongst the Blondie hits included in the stage version, conceived and written by American Peter Michael Marino, are “Hanging on the Telephone”, “The Tide Is High”, “Heart of Glass”, “Call Me”, “Rapture” and “One Way or Another”. Blondie’s Debbie Harry and Chris Stein also penned a new ballad, “Moment of Truth”, especially for the show.

From Here to Eternity, which is adapted from James Jones' 1951 novel, features lyrics by Rice, music by newcomer Stuart Brayson and a book by Bill Oakes. The show opened at the Shaftesbury Theatre in October 2013 and closed six months later. It was originally going to close in April 2014 but the closing date ws brought forward to March. It follows the lives and loves of a group of soldiers stationed on the Hawaiian island of Oahu in 1941, before and during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour which led to the US engagement in the Second World War. 

Hair opened to rave reviews at the West End’s Gielgud Theatre in April 2010, only a month later it posted it closing notices and would then close in September of that year after only five months. The show takes place in late 1960s New York City, Claude falls in with a group of hippies called the Tribe, led by Berger. But their free love and drug-enhanced happiness is disrupted by Claude’s Vietnam draft orders. Hair has book and lyrics by Gerome Ragni and James Rado and music by Galt MacDermot. The score includes “Aquarius”, “Ain’t Got No”, “I Got Life”, “Good Morning Starshine”, "Let the Sun Shine In" and the title song.

Lend Me a Tenor played an out-of-town tryout in Plymouth in September 2010 before transferring to Gielgud Theatre in June 2011. The show closed the following August after only a two month run. Set in 1934, Lend Me a Tenor The Musical revolves around renowned tenor Tito Merelli, known as "Il Stupendo", as he prepares to perform his greatest role, Otello. Things go wrong at the final dress rehearsal though, as a case of mistaken identity, double entendres and innuendoes threaten to ruin the show. When Tito is incapacitated, the director’s meek assistant Max is given the daunting task of finding a last-minute replacement. The musical has book and lyrics by Peter Sham, with music by Brad Carroll. 

Loserville premiered at West Yorkshire Playhouse in early 2012 before transferring to the Garrick Theatre in October of that year. The musical closed three months after in January 2013. The show charts the rise of a typical American high-school nerd from 1971 as he and his sci-fi-obsessed misfit friends try to change the world from their position of insignificance. It was inspired by Welcome to Loserville, a 2005 album by Bourne's solo project Son of Dork. Bourne was previously a member of chart-topping group Busted.  Elliot also co-wrote Soho Cinders with George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, which ran at Soho Theatre. 

The London production of Thoroughly Modern Millie reunited the original Broadway creative team, including director Michael Mayer and designer David Gallow. The show opened at the Shaftesbury Theatre in October 2003 but closed after an 8 month run. Based on the 1967 film starring Julie Andrews, the nostalgic musical comedy is set in 1920s New York where recent arrival-from-Kansas Millie Dillmount is determined to bob her hair, dance to jazz, get a job and marry her boss - all in the modern fashion.

The Broadway transfer of Spring Awakening played at the Lyric Hammersmith in early 2009 and transferred directly to the West End where it played at the Novello Theatre, only to close after 2 months. The musical  has music by Duncan Sheik and book and lyrics by Steven Sater, is based on the Frank Wedekind’s 1891 play of the same name about sexual discovery. Set in 19th-century Germany, the story centres on brilliant student Melchior, his troubled friend Moritz and Wendla, a beautiful girl on the verge of womanhood.

Viva Forever (my controversial choice) premiered at the Piccadilly Theatre in December 2012 and closed just 6 months after. Viva Forever was produced by Judy Craymer in association with Universal Music, Simon Fuller and the Spice Girls. As with Mamma Mia!, in which the songs of Abba are fashioned around an original story byCatherine JohnsonViva Forever “is not a tribute show, but it will harness the distinct personality of the Spice Girls to create a musical that celebrates the energy and excitement of the biggest girl-band of all time.” The story centres on Viva, her mum and her friends whose lives are turned upside down by an X Factor-style talent show. The score features Spice Girls hits such as "Wannabe", "2 Become 1", "Spice Up Your Life" and "Goodbye".

Cursed Theatres?

Its well known that there are some theatres in the West End that have not had very much success with musicals! We take a look at them and their history of  musicals that closed too soon... 

Shaftesbury Theatre 

- From Here to Eternity the Musical (30 September 2013 - 29 March 2014)
- Burn the Floor (11 March 2013 - 30 June 2013)
- Flashdance (26 September 2010 - 15 January 2011)
- Daddy Cool The Musical (15 August 2006 – 17 February 2007)
- Bat Boy: The Musical (27 August 2004 – 15 January 2005)
- Thoroughly Modern Millie (21 October 2003 – 26 June 2004)

Novello Theatre 

- Crazy for You (8 October 2011 – 17 March 2012)
- Betty Blue Eyes (19 March 2011 – 24 September 2011)
- Spring Awakening (21 March 2009 – 30 May 2009)
- Desperately Seeking Susan (15 November 2007 – 15 December 2007)
- The Drowsy Chaperone (6 June 2007 – 4 August 2007)

Flop Facts!

The Duchess Theatre in 1930 hosted the shortest run in West End history with the production of 'The Intimate Revue' which closed without completing its first performance.

Despite being directed by Sir Trevor Nunn, 'Gone With The Wind' closed in 2008 after 79 performances. 

Lionel Bart's 1965 Robin Hood musical  'Twang' opened with a nightmare first performance involving power failures, last-minute script rewrites and the musical director collapsing. It closed after 43 shows.

Leonardo the Musical, about a romance between Leonardo da Vinci and the Mona Lisa and financed by the tiny Pacific nation of Nauru. Ran for five weeks in 1993

Written and directed by DJ Mike Read, 'Oscar Wilde The Musical' closed after only one night at the Shaw Theatre in 2004. 

The £2m "salsa-comedy-murder-mystery" 'Murderous Instincts' lasted a week at the Savoy in 2004

'Behind the Iron Mask', based on The Man In The Iron Mask, got a critical mauling and lasted 18 days in 2005. 

'Eurovision', Produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber and starring Anita Dobson, this song contest-inspired gay farce closed after three weeks in 1993

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