Musicals Extend: Fame, Chitty Chitty & Lion KingDate: 29 November 2004
Despite the spate of new musicals in the West End, this winter three long runners are still going strong. Fame, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and The Lion King have all announced extensions to their booking periods.
At the West End's Aldwych, the addition of four months to the schedule of Fame, which transferred to the theatre on 4 September 2002, takes its bookings up to 25 June 2005.
The Runar Borge production, based on Alan Parker's 1980 Oscar-winning film and the American TV series of the same name, first opened in the West End at the Cambridge Theatre in 1995, when it was nominated for two Laurence Olivier Awards for Best New Musical and Best Choreography. It returned in 1998 for a run at the Prince of Wales Theatre.
The musical's current West End run began in October 2000 at the Victoria Palace (its second outing at that venue, where it also played in 1997) before transferring back to the Cambridge in September 2001 and then to the Aldwych in 2002. With its on and off appearances in the West End and ongoing tours, Fame has now been seen by more than 3.5 million people in the UK.
At the Palladium, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang has extended bookings six months, taking it up to until 4 September 2005. The £6.2 million stage production based on the famous 1968 children's film, had its world premiere on 16 April 2002 (previews from 19 March) and was taking bookings up to 13 March 2005.
The musical is adapted by Jeremy Sams with original music by the Sherman brothers. It's directed by ex-RSC artistic director Adrian Noble, choreographed by Gillian Lynne and designed by Whatsonstage.com Award winner Anthony Ward. The original children's book, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, was written by Ian Fleming.
The cast currently includes Jason Donovan as Caractacus Potts (See News, 23 Mar 2004), Scarlet Strallen (as Truly Scrumptious), Christopher Biggins (Baron Bomburst), Louise Gold (Baroness Bomburst), Stephen Gately (the Child Catcher) and Tony Adams (Grandpa Potts).
Finally, Disney's multi award-winning musical The Lion King - which celebrated five years in the West End last month (See News, 19 Oct 2004) - has added another three months to its schedule. It's now taking public bookings up to 2 October 2005.
Based on Disney's 1994 animated feature film, The Lion King opened first on Broadway at the New Amsterdam Theatre in November 1997. In New York, the show won more than 20 major awards, including the Tony for Best Musical, and has since spawned ten international productions seen by more than 25 million people.
The original Broadway creative team, led by director and designer Julie Taymor, reunited for the London production, with choreography by Garth Fagan, costumes by Taymor, puppetry and masks by Taymor and Michael Curry, set design by Richard Hudson, hair and make-up by Michael Ward, lighting by Donald Holder and sound by Tony Meola.
The Lion King features 15 songs, including the five from the film. Unlike the screen version, however, African sounds and rhythms are fused on stage with Western popular music to create the musical's distinctive sound. The stage score comprises three new songs written by Elton John and Tim Rice, with additional numbers by South African-born Lebo M, Mark Mancina, Hans Zimmer and Julie Taymor. The book is by Roger Allers and Irene Mecchi.
- by Hannah Kennedy