Take Six ... Screen-to-stage musicals in the West End
To coincide with the West End premiere of Once tonight (9 April 2013), we thought we'd take a look at some of the other successful musicals running in the West End at the moment that are based on films. We would have taken five, as is our usual format, but we couldn't choose between them, so here are the, shall we call them the Super Six?...
The West End company of Once
The big opener this week is Broadway import Once, which opens at the Phoenix Theatre tonight (9 April). Featuring the Oscar-winning song "Falling Slowly", it's based on the 2006 Dublin-set film of the same name, and tells the story of two strangers who meet and fall in love through a shared love of music. Having won eight Tony awards in 2012, the West End production stars Declan Bennett and Zrinka Cvitisec, leading a company of actor-musicians, and reunites director John Tiffany with his original creative team.
Heather Headley & the cast of The Bodyguard
Winner of this year's Whatsonstage.com Award for Best New Musical and now in the running for four Olivier Awards, The Bodyguard is based on the 1992 film starring Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner. The production stars Tony Award-winner Heather Headley as superstar Rachel Marron and Lloyd Owen as her bodyguard Frank Farmer. Featuring Whitney Houston hits including "I Wanna Dance with Somebody", "I Will Always Love You" and "I Have Nothing", the show is directed by Thea Sharrock with designs by Tim Hatley. It runs at the Adelphi Theatre.
SINGIN' IN THE RAIN
Singin' in the Rain is based on the classic 1952 MGM film starring Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor and Debbie Reynolds. It tells the story of silent movie star Don Lockwood and the move from silent pictures to talkies. This Chichester Festival Theatre production transferred in February 2012 to the Palace Theatre, where it finishes on 8 June 2013, before touring. It's directed by Jonathan Church and currently stars Adam Cooper, Stephane Anelli, Louise Bowden and Jennifer Ellison. The toe-tapping tunes in this show include "Good Morning", "Make 'Em Laugh", "Moses Supposes" and the title song, which makes a very big splash ahead of the interval. (The theatre offers ponchos to those in the front rows - be warned!)
The company of Billy Elliot
Based on the 2000 Brit flick starring Jamie Bell and Julie Walters, Billy Elliot follows an 11-year-old boy's dream to study at the Royal Ballet School, despite his father's wishes and the economic hardships of the 1980s miners' strike. The multi award-winning musical has a score by Elton John and lyrics and book by Lee Hall, who wrote the screenplay. It features songs such as "Electricity" and "Solidarity", and the current cast includes Gillian Bevan as Mrs Wilkinson and Ann Emery and Grandma, returning to the role that she originated. It runs at the Victoria Palace Theatre.
The company of The Lion King
THE LION KING
One of the first musicals adapted from an animated film, The Lion King is another Elton John tuner, this time with lyrics by Tim Rice. Premiered on Broadway in 1997 and the West End two years later, The Lion King is based on the 1994 Disney film about young lion prince Simba whose evil uncle Scar plots to kill him to become King of the jungle. Featuring songs including "Circle of Life" and "Hakuna Matata", the show is directed by Julie Taymor, who also designed the trademark puppets used in the show. It runs at the Lyceum Theatre.
Gavin Lee & the cast of Top Hat
The final show in our list is Top Hat. Based on the 1935 film starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, it tells the story of American tap dancer Jerry Travers who meets Dale Tremont, the girl of his dreams, when he travels to London to appear in a show. The sumptuously costumed musical comedy includes Irving Berlin classics from the original movie as well as ten other songs from Berlin's 1200-strong back catalogue. Showstoppers include "Puttin' on the Ritz", "Cheek to Cheek", "Let's Face the Music and Dance" and "Top Hat, White Tie & Tails". Broadway alum Gavin Lee and Kristen Beth Williams lead the current cast at the Aldwych Theatre.