What links [title of show], The Lyons and The Scottsboro Boys? Welcome to Off-Broadway powerhouse The Vineyard
No less than four shows from award-winning Off-Broadway venue the Vineyard Theatre are running in London this year - and there's more to come, reports Louise Miles
Beady-eyed theatregoers may have spotted that four shows that originated at Off-Broadway powerhouse The Vineyard Theatre are running in London this summer.
Comedy play The Lyons runs at the Menier Chocolate Factory, The Scottsboro Boys, nominated for 12 Tony Awards, comes to the the Young Vic, innovative musical [title of show] is currently at the Landor Theatre and Colman Domingo's solo show A Boy and His Soul will have its UK premiere at the Tricycle Theatre.
All started life in downtown Manhattan, where the Vineyard Theatre has received special OBIE, Drama Desk and Lucille Lortel Awards for Sustained Excellence during its three decades supporting and premiering bold new work.
While Vineyard Theatre productions have been presented on London stages numerous times through the years, notably the hit puppet musical Avenue Q, the unusual confluence of this particular quartet is remarkable, according to artistic director Douglas Aibel.
"We're so thrilled to see these four Vineyard works arrive in London this summer and fall," says Aibel, who has run the not-for-profit venue for nearly 25 years.
"The Scottsboro Boys, The Lyons, A Boy and His Soul and [title of show] have each been such a meaningful part of The Vineyard's legacy. It's a source of great pride for us that London audiences will get to discover them."
So what is it about the Vineyard that makes it such a powerhouse of successful new shows?
In an interview with WhatsOnStage's Broadway-based owners TheaterMania.com earlier this year about starring in Somewhere Fun at the Vineyard Theatre, veteran stage actress Kathleen Chalfant said: "The thing that must be said is through this journey, the people here at the Vineyard have been endlessly and ceaselessly supportive."
Kate Mulgrew, who also appeared in the production, agreed: "They've shepherded it. That's what the Vineyard does, unlike any other theatre that I know of. They foster new work, they believe in it, and they take it through."
The European premiere of The Lyons will run at arguably London's closest equivalent to the Vineyard, Southwark's Menier Chocolate Factory, from 19 September to 16 November 2013, directed by Mark Brokaw (Broadway's Cinderella).
Nicky Silver's comedy follows the Lyons family as, surrounding their father's hospital death bed, they bicker, snipe and betray secrets, flooding the heart-breaking tale with humour.
Kander & Ebb musical The Scottsboro Boys, in its UK premiere directed by five-time Tony Award-winning director and choreographer Susan Stroman, opens at the Young Vic on 18 October 2013, running for five weeks.
[title of show], a musical comedy about struggling writers who attempt to pen a new musical, opened at Clapham's Landor Theatre last week (13 August 2013) and runs until 14 September. The show originally premiered at the Vineyard back in 2006.
And music-infused one man show A Boy and His Soul runs at the Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn from 4 to 21 September 2013. The production, written and performed by Colman Domingo (who also stars in The Scottsboro Boys - look out for our forthcoming interview), follows a young man's coming-of-age in 1970s Philadelphia.
Meanwhile, the Vineyard Theatre is busy producing its next season of work, which includes John Kander's new musical The Landing (starring Tony winner David Hyde Pierce) and Nicky Silver's latest play Too Much Sun.
Don't be too surprised if one or more of them ends up on this side of the Atlantic in the very near future.
- Louise Miles