Musical Romeo & Juliet Posts Closing Notices, 8 FebDate: 15 January 2003
Romeo and Juliet - The Musical has posted closing notices at the West End's Piccadilly Theatre. The show received its UK premiere, to a generally damning critical reception, on 4 November 2002 (following previews from 18 October) and many expected it to close within days. However, by the time it closes - on 8 February 2003 - it will have lasted for 16 weeks and nearly to the end of its initial booking period.
The musical version of Shakespeare's tragic romance stars Andrew Bevis and 15-year-old newcomer Lorna Want as the young lovers, with recording artist and The Cruise's reality TV star Jane McDonald as the Nurse. They're joined in the cast by Sevan Stephan, David Bardsley, Michele Hooper, Michael Cormick, James Graeme, Louise Davidson, Rachid Sabitri, Matthew Dempsey, Alexis James and Tim Walton.
First seen in Paris in January 2001, Romeo et Juliette is one of the most successful French-language musicals of all time, with 20 original songs by Gerard Presgurvic. Over one million people have seen the French show, which launched a new tour last year, while the cast recording has spawned three No 1 singles and sold a total of six million copies combined.
The English language version features the same music but with new lyrics by Don Black (best known to UK theatregoers for his various collaborations with composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, including Song and Dance, Aspects of Love, Sunset Boulevard and Bombay Dreams) and a revised book by Black and Opera Factory's David Freeman, who also directs. Romeo and Juliet is designed by David Roger, with musical arrangements by John Cameron.
Unlike Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim's classic West Side Story, which transplanted Shakespeare's love story to 20th-century gangland New York, Romeo and Juliet - The Musical stays largely faithful to the original. While the dialogue is updated and modern pop music added, the story and characters as well as the Renaissance Verona setting remain.
Amongst those productions rumoured to follow the show into the Piccadilly Theatre are Franco Zeffirelli's revival of Pirandello's rarely performed Each in His Own Way, starring Joan Plowright, widow of Laurence Olivier, and a new production of Broadway musical Ragtime, which received its UK premiere at Cardiff's International Festival of Musical Theatre in October 2002.
- by Terri Paddock