Top Five: Royal Wedding ShowsDate: 27 April 2011
Did your invitation for Friday's Royal Wedding get lost in the post? Not to worry, Prince William and Kate Middleton aren't the only ones tying the knot this season. Westminster Abbey has nothing on the West End when it comes to top wedding ceremonies. Here's our pick of the Top Five shows to walk - or even waltz - down the aisle with.
BETTY BLUE EYES
Impresario Cameron Mackintosh scheduled this world premiere for this spring long before William and Kate even announced their engagement - and yet, as much of the show's marketing makes clear, the overlaps are almost uncanny between current events and the story in which celebrations around an impending Royal Wedding serve to distract people from the doom and gloom of austerity Britain. Set in a Yorkshire village on the eve of the wedding of William's grandmother, the now-Queen, to Prince Philip, Betty Blue Eyes is based on the Alan Bennett-scripted 1984 film A Private Function, in which locals are planning to feast on a pig, illegally reared in a time of food rationing. It has music by Stiles and Drewe, direction by Richard Eyre, and a cast including Sarah Lancashire, Reece Shearsmith, Adrian Scarborough, David Bamber, Ann Emery and, star of the show, an animatronic pig named Betty.
SHREK THE MUSICAL
Did you realise we're on the brink of yet-another royal wedding ... of a very different shade. The 2008 Broadway screen-to-stage adaptation of the irreverent alternative fairy tale about a lonely green ogre, who finds happiness and conquers a fearsome dragon with the help of a wise-cracking donkey and a tough-talking princess, gets its West End premiere in June following previews from 6 May 2011. In the course of the story, not only do Shrek and Princess Fiona marry, but they are later crowned King and Queen of Far Far Away. How's that for a happy ending? Whatsonstage.com Award winner Nigel Lindsay greens up in the title role, leading a 33-strong company that also stars Amanda Holden (as Fiona), Richard Blackwood (Donkey) and Nigel Harman (Lord Farquaad).
Billed as "the" wedding of the year - and it certainly has been in the West End for over a decade now - Mamma Mia! is set on an idyllic Greek island where young lovers Sophie and Sky are preparing their I-Do's. Sophie wants her dad to walk her down the aisle. The only trouble is, she doesn't know who he is. After snooping in the old journal of her feisty single mum Donna, she narrows it down to three potentials from her mum's wild past - and invites them all to the ceremony. Based on the songs of ABBA, Mamma Mia! opened in London in 1999 and has played to packed houses ever since, with its popularity further fuelled by the 2008 film starring Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan. It's jam-packed with ABBA classics - such as "The Winner Takes It All", "Money Money Money", "Dancing Queen", "Chiquitita", "Voulez Vous", " Knowing Me Knowing You" and, of course, "Mamma Mia".
LEGALLY BLONDE THE MUSICAL
Sassy sorority sister and homecoming queen Elle Woods doesn't take no for an answer. So when her college boyfriend Warner dumps her for someone serious, Elle puts down the credit card, hits the books, and heads for Harvard Law School. Wedding bells ring at the finale, after Elle has cracked a major court case and earned her degree and everyone's respect along the way - but Warner isn't the lucky guy. The musical comedy, which premiered on Broadway in April 2007, is based on the 2001 Hollywood film starring Reese Witherspoon. Legally Blonde The Musical had its West End premiere last January and this year scooped four Whatsonstage.com Awards and three Laurence Olivier Awards, including Best New Musical in both. It currently stars Susan McFadden as Elle, along with Whatsonstage.com and Olivier nominee Alex Gaumond, Peter Davison, and fresh to the cast this week, Two Pints of Lager's Natalie Casey. From mid-June, Lee Mead will take over from Gaumond as Emmett.
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING
This timeless comedy figured in our Top Five last week, of Summer Shakespeares, but with two weddings in one evening (albeit, one of them having the bride Hero jilted at the altar by Claudio), we couldn't leave it out of this round-up either. And you have no excuse to miss it with a choice of three different stagings. David Tennant and his former Doctor Who sidekick Catherine Tate are reunited as bickering would-be lovers Benedick and Beatrice in a West End production helmed by Josie Rourke (soon-to-be Michael Grandage's successor at the Donmar Warehouse) at Wyndham's Theatre (16 May-3 September). Not to be outdone, Olivier Award winner Eve Best will return to the London stage, for the first time since starring with Kevin Spacey in 2006's Moon for the Misbegotten at the Old Vic (which subsequently transferred to Broadway where she was Tony nominated), to play Beatrice opposite Charles Edwards' Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing at Shakespeare's Globe (21 May-10 October, in rep), directed by Royal Court associate Jeremy Herrin (That Face). And for a totally different take, there's the hilarious hip-hop musical version Funk It Up About Nothin' at Theatre Royal Stratford East until 7 May.
»»» CLICK HERE TO BOOK TICKETS TO MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING IN THE WEST END
Also rans & out of production
For a Fringe nuptial with a royal theme, head for Baron's Court where Crown Matrimonial Royce Ryton's 1972 play about the abdication crisis caused by Edward VIII's desire to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson, is revived until 7 May. And harking back to Shakespeare again, the Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch, has newlyweds Kate and Petruchio battling it out for dominance in The Taming of the Shrew. It's only on until Saturday (30 April 2011), though there are other regional productions of the play later in the year, not least at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon.
This feature topic sparked off lots of other ideas for shows with weddings on the Whatsonstage.com Discussion Forum - amongst those mentioned that aren't currently in production (but perhaps due for revival?) were The Drowsy Chaperone, Oklahoma! Kiss Me, Kate and, the title says it all, The Wedding Singer. If you have other suggestions, please add them to this page via the User Comments box below.
Last but not least, for rib-tickling Royal Wedding fun online, do check out barbershop quartet Barbershopera's take on the Royal Wedding in their new video single "Could Have Married Kate" - click here to view and enjoy.
WITH THANKS TO: Contributors from the Whatsonstage.com Discussion Forum, including Clair, Ian, Weez, Mark_E and Minsky.