Musicals Extend: Brothers, Wicked & Lion King
At the Phoenix Theatre, Blood Brothers has opened a new four-month booking period and is now taking bookings through to 27 November 2010. This production of Willy Russell's Liverpool-set musical about twin brothers separated at birth first opened on 27 August 1988 at the Albery Theatre before transferring to its current home at the Phoenix in November 1991.
Former Spice Girl, Melanie C continues to star as the twins’ mother Mrs Johnstone until 24 April (See News, 8 Sep 2009). She made her West End debut in October in the part, for which she was nominated for Best Takeover in a Role in the Whatsonstage.com Awards and is also in the running for an Olivier for Best Actress in a Musical. Blood Brothers is directed by Bob Thomson and Bill Kenwright and designed by Marty Flood.
At the Apollo Victoria, Wicked has added a further six months to its schedule and is now taking bookings through to 30 April 2011. The Broadway musical, which opened in London on 27 September 2006 (previews from 6 September), tells the “untold story” of the Witches of Oz - popular blonde Glinda, aka the Good Witch of the North, and her spin-victim friend Elphaba – who were both immortalised in the 1939 film classic The Wizard of Oz. The musical has a book by Winnie Holtzman, based on Gregory Maguire’s novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz. It’s directed by Joe Mantello.
In the 2007 Whatsonstage.com Awards, covering the 2006 theatre year, it won four top awards, including Best New Musical. This year it added to its Whatsonstage.com Awards tally by clinching the new category for long-runners, Best West End Show. From 29 March, the London company will be led by Rachel Tucker as the green-skinned Elphaba and Louise Dearman as Glinda, with Any Dream Will Do victor and former Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat star Lee Mead joining as Fiyero from 10 May (See News, 28 Jan 2010).
Finally, at the Lyceum Theatre, The Lion King had added four months to its schedule and is now taking bookings up to 31 January 2011. The Disney screen-to-stage adaptation opened on 19 October 1999 (previews from 24 September). The current company features Shaun Escoffery (as Mufasa).
Based on Disney's 1994 animated feature film, the stage adaptation opened first on Broadway at the New Amsterdam Theatre in November 1997. The original Broadway creative team, led by director and designer Julie Taymor, reunited for the London production. The Lion King features 15 songs, including the five from the film and new songs 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.