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Five shows we can't wait to see cross the Atlantic

We sent our deputy editor Ben Hewis across the pond to check out some productions that are due to hit the West End in the not too distant future

5. Finding Neverland

Matthew Morrison and Laura Michelle Kelly in the original Broadway production
© Carol Rosegg

What is it?

Based on the Academy Award-winning film of the same name, Finding Neverland is a semi-biographical musical about playwright J.M. Barrie and his relationship with a family who inspired him to create Peter Pan.

Who's behind it?

Take That's Gary Barlow has contributed new songs to the show, and British playwright James Graham (This House, Privacy) has rewritten the book.

Will I enjoy it?

The original production at the Curve in 2012 was a disaster, but Barlow and Graham have added their magic and turned this show into an enchanting evening. There's a couple of standout tunes from Barlow - including "When Your Feet Don't Touch the Ground" and "We're All Made of Stars" - and with the right casting a British audience should really take to it - it is our story after all!

When is it coming?

January 2017, venue tbc but could potentially follow Charlie and the Chocolate Factory into Theatre Royal Drury Lane.

Dream casting...

Alfie Boe was recently cast in the lead role of J.M. Barrie on Broadway and you'd be a fool not to hope he transfers with the production. Similarly, Laura Michelle Kelly gives a stunning turn as Sylvia Llewelyn Davies so fingers crossed for a return to the UK for her. Another Brit, Sally Ann Triplett, is great as Mrs du Maurier but for me it has to be Haydn Gwynne for Sylvia's over-protective mum. The Lion King's George Asprey would be my choice for Captain Hook, a role originated by Kelsey Grammer.


4. Something Rotten!

The cast of Something Rotten!
© Joan Marcus

What is it?

Something Rotten! is a musical comedy about two playwright brothers, Nick and Nigel Bottom, who struggle to compete against William Shakespeare and set out to come up with 'the next big thing'.

Who's behind it?

The show has a book by Karey Kirkpatrick (James and the Giant Peach and Charlotte's Web) and John O'Farrell who cut his teeth as lead writer on Spitting Image and Have I Got News For You. Music and lyrics are from Kirkpatrick and his musician brother Wayne.

Will I enjoy it?

There's no doubt that this is a fun show, parts of it - most memorably the song "A Musical" which parodies shows including Annie, Les Miserables and Rent - are genuinely hilarious. But it is an American show with a fair bit of cultural humour, so I think it will need some adapting to ingratiate itself to a British audience.

When is it coming?

Nothing confirmed yet but writers have said they are keen to bring it to the UK.

Dream casting...

I'd love to see Simon Lipkin and Liam Tamne take on the brothers Bottom. Tamsin Carroll would be a shoo-in for my Bea (wife of Nick Bottom) and I'd go for Gabriella Williams for Portia (Nigel's love interest).


3. An American in Paris

Leanne Cope and Robert Fairchild in An American in Paris
© Matthew Murphy

What is it?

Christopher Wheeldon's adaptation of the 1951 Academy Award-winning film incorporating songs from George and Ira Gershwin. An American soldier decides to stay in Paris to pursue a ballet dancer following the end of World War II.

Who's behind it?

Royal Ballet star Wheeldon directs and choreographs with a book by Craig Lucas (The Light in the Piazza) and designs by Olivier Award-winner Bob Crowley.

Will I enjoy it?

Aside from being a huge fan of Matthew Bourne and a failed date to see Rambert in my uni days, I'm ashamed to admit that I'm not very well versed in the world of dance. However this was probably my surprise favourite show of the week. It's a beautifully moving show with designs unlike anything London has seen for a long time (Crowley should get his Oliviers tux ready). The performances are faultless and Wheeldon's vision is remarkably executed.

When is it coming?

Previews begin at the Dominion Theatre in March 2017.

Dream casting...

I'd love to see them bring Royal Ballet First Artist Leanne Cope over. My knowledge of ballet dancers is lacking somewhat but Anabel Kutay, Daniel Collins and Jason Winter would be perfect additions to the cast.


2. School of Rock

Evie Dolan and Alex Brightman in School of Rock
© Matthew Murphy

What is it? Andrew Lloyd Webber's stage adaptation of the 2003 film starring Jack Black. A struggling rock singer disguises himself as a supply teacher and forms a band of kids in an attempt to win the upcoming Battle of the Bands.

Who's behind it?

The show has music by Lloyd Webber, lyrics by Glenn Slater (The Little Mermaid, Sister Act) and a book by Downton Abbey's Julian Fellowes.

Will I enjoy it?

Unless you have a problem with loud music then yes, yes you will. It's hard not to love this show, it's funny, energetic and the kids are sublime (good luck to the casting director whose job it is to find all singing, all dancing, all instrument playing 10-year-olds). The best numbers are from the film - "You're In The Band" and "Stick it to the Man" - but this is one not to be missed, two hours and 15 minutes of pure fun.

When is it coming?

Slated for the Palladium in Spring 2017.

Dream casting...

A while back my esteemed colleague Michael Coveney suggested there wasn't anyone in the UK that could play Dewy like Alex Brightman does. Well, he was wrong because this role was MADE for Nathan Amzi. Anyone that caught him in Rock of Ages will be able to attest to that. Elsewhere in the cast I'd go for Rebecca Trehearn as strait-laced headmistress Rosalie, Daniel Boys as Ned and Emma Williams as Patty.


1. Hamilton

Hamilton star and creator Lin-Manuel Miranda as the musical's title character with Renée Elise Goldsberry (Angelica Schuyler) and Phillipa Soo (Eliza Hamilton)
© Joan Marcus

What is it?

If you've got to the end of this article, it's probably safe to say you've heard of the biggest sensation to hit Broadway since The Book of Mormon. Lin-Manuel Miranda's hip hop musical charts the rise and fall of America's first Treasury of State, Alexander Hamilton.

Who's behind it?

The book, music and lyrics are by Miranda, whose past credits include In the Heights and Bring it On.

Will I enjoy it?

It's hard to imagine someone not finding something to like in Hamilton. From the music to the message, the inclusivity to the ingenuity, in my opinion this show is as close to perfect as they come. They've already won a Grammy and will no doubt take home most of the 16 Tony Awards they're nominated for next month.

When is it coming?

Rumoured to be heading to the Victoria Palace next year.

Dream casting...

Truthfully, I hope UK audiences get to see the original Broadway cast open in the West End, but once they've done then there's no-one that could handle the titular role better than Sam Mackay, currently playing another Miranda character - Usnavi in In the Heights. Giles Terrera would be my Aaron Burr, with Lucy St. Louis as Angelica and Alexia Khadime as Eliza.

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