Musicals Extend: White & Pre-opening ProducersDate: 2 November 2004
Two of the autumn’s new blockbuster musicals have announced extensions to their West End booking periods: Andrew Lloyd Webber’s world premiere production of The Woman in White and, ahead of its opening next week, the UK premiere of Mel Brooks’ Broadway hit The Producers.
At the Palace Theatre, where it opened on 15 September 2004 (previews from 28 August), The Woman in White has added six months to its schedule and is now taking bookings up to 3 September 2005. Loosely based on Wilkie Collins’ Victorian novel, the musical thriller stars Maria Friedman and Michael Crawford, who has returned to the West End stage for the first time since originating the title role in Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera 18 years ago (See News, 24 Feb 2004).
The Woman in White has a book Charlotte Jones, lyrics by David Zippel and music by Lloyd Webber. It’s directed by Trevor Nunn, designed by William Dudley and co-produced by Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Theatre Company and Sonia Friedman Productions. The 21-strong cast also features Edward Petherbridge, Angela Christian (as the ‘woman in white’), Martin Crewes, Oliver Darley and Jill Paice.
Meanwhile, at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, where The Producers opens to the critics on 9 November 2004 (previews from 22 October), booking has also been extended by six months, taking it up to 29 October 2005. Based on Brooks' 1968 film classic and set in New York in 1959, the musical comedy revolves around washed-up theatre producer Max Bialystock who, with his timid accountant Leo Bloom, cooks up a scheme to make a fortune by presenting a sure-fire flop called "Springtime for Hitler".
Nathan Lane, who won a Tony for the role on Broadway, now plays the part of Bialystock until 8 January 2005, a last-minute replacement for Richard Dreyfuss who withdrew days before preview performances began in London (See News, 19 Oct 2004). The UK cast also features Lee Evans (as Leo Bloom), Leigh Zimmerman (Ulla), Conleth Hill (Roger De Bris), Nicolas Colicos (Franz Liebkind) and James Dreyfus (Carmen Ghia).
The show has music and lyrics by Mel Brooks, with a book by Brooks and Thomas Meehan. The London production reunites director and choreographer Susan Stroman with the rest of the original Broadway creative team.
- by Terri Paddock