A tale of two cities – which Broadway shows are London-bound?
We reflect on a visit to the Great White Way
Nobody expected, in any industry, an instant bounce back from the intense turbulence of lockdown. The theatre community, just like any, has seen some seismic shakes over the last few years – and now has to begin the long, rocky, uphill road to rebuilding.
What is something of a comfort is that UK theatre does not face such issues alone. On a recent five-day trip to Broadway, we experienced an environment still rebuilding, with long-standing productions calling time (Come From Away, Dear Evan Hansen, Tina) while a pocket of fan and public favourites (The Music Man, Hamilton, Six, Hadestown, The Lion King, Wicked) are all still bringing in the megabucks.
Still – theatres being vacated mean the chance for new and exciting work to take their place. The well-received revival of 1776 already has its marquee in place and it doesn't open on Broadway until September. A bit sooner, the critically adored Encores! production of Into the Woods with Waitress creator Sara Bareilles is also about to open. From our shores, the multi-award-winning Back to the Future is revving up for a ride on the Great White Way next year.
There is, of course, a heck of a lot of Broadway shows to look forward to in the West End as well. Not only is Jagged Little Pill earmarking a venue, but on the Tony Awards' silver carpet, creatives, producers and actors all told me of their desperate desire for a trip across the Pond. It's only a matter a time before we see Pulitzer and Tony winner A Strange Loop, that's for sure, while Best Choreography recipient MJ, which grew its revenue by 15% this week post-Tonys, is also eyeing a London transfer.
But what about the crowdpleasers? Beetlejuice, a slick adaptation that, to this writer, is better work from visual connoisseur director Alex Timbers than his spectacular spectacular Moulin Rouge!, seems to be just over the horizon. Watching it on Broadway, it's the sort of whimsical, edgy rib-tickler (quite literally with some of those skeletons) that will certain bolster spirits in this time of gloom.
Speaking of pick-me-ups – who knows, maybe a certain showman (whose name begins with H, which rhymes with... something) may finally be making his West End return? All we can do is cross our fingers and start amassing trombones...