Less than a fortnight after its opening, Kneehigh musical The Umbrellas of Cherbourg has posted closing notices at the West End’s Gielgud Theatre, where it will now play its last performance on 21 May 2011.
Commenting on the early closure, producer Daniel Sparrow said: “Together with my co-producing team, we are immensely proud to have brought our production of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg to the West End following its run in Leicester earlier this year. However, despite consistently positive audience responses, for economic reasons we are having to close earlier than anticipated. To have worked with Emma Rice, Kneehigh, our hugely talented creative team, cast and company has been a privilege and as producers, our ongoing ambition to bring fresh, innovative and original work to the West End will continue to be pursued. Following positive interest in the show from the global theatrical community, plans for a UK tour and various international productions of Umbrellas are currently in discussion.”
Based on the 1964 film by Jaques Demy, with a score by Grammy and Oscar-winning composer Michel Legrand, the musical had been initially been booking a 30-week season until 1 October 2011. The production opened on 22 March 2011 (previews from 5 March), following a try-out run at Leicester's Curve Theatre.
Set in 1957 in the French port of Cherbourg, the musical is adapted and directed by Kneehigh artistic director Emma Rice with a translation by Sheldon Harnick. The cast includes two-time Olivier Award winner Joanna Riding, cabaret star Meow Meow and romantic leads Carly Bawden and Andrew Durand.
The project marks the first major work for Kneehigh's artistic director Emma Rice since her 2008 multimedia production of Brief Encounter, which had an extended, sell-out run in a converted cinema on the Haymarket before transferring to Broadway.
The original 1964 film, which was written and directed by Jacques Demy, was nominated for five Oscars including Best Song for "I Will Wait for You". Other songs from the film, which starred a 19-year-old Catherine Deneuve as Geneviève, include “Watch What happens".
Composer Michel Legrand is an Oscar winning composer, arranger, conductor and pianist who has created over 200 film scores including The Thomas Crown Affair and Summer of '42. His other scores for film musicals include the 1983 romantic drama Yentl which starred and had a screenplay by Barbra Streisand.