Billy Elliot The Musical - Now seen by 8.7 Million People
Founded in 1908 by Sir Charles Wyndham, the Society of London Theatre (SOLT) is the organisation that represents the producers, theatre owners and managers of the major commercial and grant-aided theatres in central London.
Society members had a good year in 2012 despite recession, according to a recent report by SOLT. At the time of publishing their financial results, they also kindly produced a round – up of the various shows taking place in London now.
The 39 steps in its 6th year
The 39 Steps, now celebrating its sixth year in the West End, has grossed over £20 million since it opened at the Criterion Theatre in 2006. It is now the longest running consecutive show in the theatre’s 137 year history and features four fearless actors playing a staggering 139 roles in 100 minutes.
Following a record-breaking regional run, ATG’s new production of All New People starring Zach Braff successfully transferred to the Duke of York’s Theatre for a sold out run in February.
Billy Elliot The Musical entered its eighth year in May 2012 when Elton John, Lee Hall and Stephen Daldry were joined by Olympians, Paralympians and VIPs who attended the show’s seventh birthday celebrations at the Victoria Palace Theatre. Over 8.7 million people have now seen the production worldwide including almost four million in London. Redmand Rance became the 31st boy to play the title role in the West End, and to date 70 boys have played the role worldwide including Jamie Bell in the film.
Thea Sharrock’s production of The Bodyguard, a new musical with book by Alex Dinelaris, opened at the Adelphi Theatre in autumn 2012 based on the Warner Bros. film of the same name with screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan. The production stars Lloyd Owen as Frank Farmer and Heather Headley as Rachel Marron in the roles made famous on film by Kevin Costner and the late Whitney Houston.
The cast of Edward Hall’s critically acclaimed production of Chariots Of Fire had collectively run over 1,700km by the time they took their final victory lap of the Gielgud Theatre track. Having been applauded by audiences including Olympians past and present, the starting gun had been fired almost 3,000 times when the show completed its West End run.
Comedian Rob Brydon made his West End debut at the Harold Pinter Theatre in Alan Ayckbourn’s A Chorus Of Disapproval alongside Nigel Harman and Ashley Jensen. Directed by Trevor Nunn, the production opened in September 2012, continuing producer Sonia Friedman’s collaboration with Ayckbourn following productions of Absent Friends and The Norman Conquests.
As it entered its 14th year, 2012 saw Disney’s The Lion King welcome its 10 millionth visitor to the London production – with 800,000 of those passing through the Lyceum’s doors in the last year alone. Continuing its success as the West End’s best-selling stage production, The Lion King broke its own box office record for the eighth consecutive year as the show grossed £38.6m and, in doing so, set a new bar for the highest grossing year in West End theatre history. Julie Taymor’s celebrated production – based on the Academy Award-winning film – also launched a highly-anticipated tour, which to date has visited Bristol and Manchester and helped combined UK audience figures reach the million mark.
Goodnight Mister Tom was the first new production to open in the Phoenix Theatre for over 20 years following Blood Brothers. It won great critical acclaim and played to packed houses.
Jersey Boys has played over 2,000 performances at the Prince Edward Theatre in London to date, and been seen by more than 2.2 million people. During the Olympics more than 1,600 games makers attended the show.
rLes Miserables now in its 28th year
The 2012 BBC Radio 2 Audience Award winner, Les Misérables, entered its 28th year in the West End in October. In December, the show broke all previous box office records with its highest grossing week ever. The show also welcomed Gerónimo Rauch as Jean Valjean from the Spanish production and Broadway star Sierra Boggess as Fantine. The film of the musical starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway had its world premiere at London’s Leicester Square.
Let It Be recouped its costs of £1.6m over the course of an 18 week initial run at the Prince of Wales Theatre, snapping more than 100 drumsticks and breaking 800 guitar strings in the process. It has now transferred to the Savoy Theatre where it is currently booking until October 2013.
Mamma Mia! has now been seen by over seven million people in London and is breaking box office records at the Novello Theatre, its third London home.
Tyne Daly made her West End debut playing legendary opera soprano Maria Callas in Terrence McNally’s Master Class following the production’s critically acclaimed, sell-out run on Broadway.
The Royal Shakespeare Company’s Matilda The Musical celebrated its first anniversary in October 2012, in the year it also collected seven Olivier Awards, securing entry into the Guinness
Book of World Records. During 2012, over 500,000 people saw the show at the Cambridge Theatre where it now holds the record for the best sales in any week ever.
The world premiere of the New Adventures production of Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty became the fastest selling show in the history of Sadler’s Wells. The production ran at the venue for eight weeks selling out at every single performance. Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty marked New Adventures 11th Christmas season at the venue and the show will tour throughout the UK and internationally during 2013.
Agatha Christie’s record-breaking production of The Mousetrap celebrated its 60th year in the West End. The classic whodunit is the world’s longest running stage production of any kind. Whilst experiencing one of its strongest years in London, the first ever UK tour opened in September and continues to break theatre records all over the country. As part of the 60th anniversary, Mousetrap Productions has licensed 60 productions of The Mousetrap world-wide.
Noises Off was the highest grossing show in the history of The Old Vic Theatre Company, breaking weekly box office records during its run at The Old Vic. The show became the first Old Vic Theatre Company production to transfer into the West End, with performances at the Novello Theatre, and will now also be the first to embark on a major UK tour.
One Man, Two Guvnors moved to the Theatre Royal Haymarket in March 2012, following its sell-out runs at the National Theatre and the Adelphi Theatre. Rufus Hound will join the cast on 4 February 2013, and a second UK tour continues to February 2013 before the show embarks on an international tour immediately afterwards.
Following its 25th anniversary performance as the Royal Albert Hall in 2011, Cameron Mackintosh unveiled in February 2012 a spectacular new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera, which is currently touring the UK and breaking box office records. The original London production entered its 27th year in October and welcomed notable Phantoms including platinum selling recording artist Peter Jöback and Broadway leading man Marcus Lovett. To date, The Phantom of the Opera has played to over 130 million people in 27 countries, across 145 cities and in 13 different languages with an estimated gross of $5.6 billion worldwide.
Mark Rylance returned to the Apollo Theatre to play the title role in Richard III and Olivia in Twelfth Night when Tim Carroll’s all-male Shakespeare’s Globe productions transferred to the West End in November. Rylance is joined in Twelfth Night by Stephen Fry as Malvolio and more than 2,000 on-stage seats have been made available throughout the run. Using original Shakespearian practices, the productions (which close on 10 February 2013) are lit by more than 100 on-stage candles.
Singin’ In The Rain continues its run at the Palace Theatre, ‘raining’ (and recycling) over 14,000 litres of downpour per performance. The show, which opened in the West End on 2 February 2012 after a highly successful run at the Chichester Festival Theatre, makes use of half a mile of flexible pipe work, a 10 tonne water tank housed in the orchestra pit and a water system that creates a downpour from above and flooding from below the stage.
The internationally acclaimed Slava’s Snowshow returned to the Royal Festival Hall in December 2012, selling over 35,000 seats. Created by Russian-born Slava Polunin and performed by a multi-national company of clowns, Slava’s Snowshow was hailed by the critics and public alike as one of the most exciting theatrical events to play in London in recent years. The production is expected to return to the Southbank Centre for its third Christmas season in 2013.
ATG’s new and further developed Pythonesque ‘Eric Idle-approved’ version of Spamalot, which successfully toured the UK in early 2012, opened in July at the Harold Pinter Theatre starring Marcus Brigstocke and Jon Culshaw. Spamalot’s continued success resulted in a transfer across town to the Playhouse Theatre with Stephen Tompkinson making his musical theatre debut.
10 years after it opened in the West End, Stomp celebrated its most successful year in London in 2012. The global phenomenon kicked off the London 2012 Olympics closing ceremony with an assembled cast of 40 members from 13 different nations, and went on to break box office and attendance records at the Ambassadors Theatre with 135,212 people through the door. The promise of new routines for 2013 has also seen a 22% increase in advance bookings at the end of 2012 compared to 2011.
The Sunshine Boys saw Danny DeVito make his West End debut as Willie Clark alongside Richard Griffiths as Al Lewis in Thea Sharrock’s production of Neil Simon’s award-winning comedy, which opened in May at the Savoy Theatre.
The Chichester Festival Theatre production of Sweeney Todd, which transferred to the Adelphi Theatre for a limited season from March to September 2012, won the Ned Sherrin Award for Best Musical at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards, and Imelda Staunton’s performance as Mrs Lovett won the accolade of Best Performance in a Musical at the Theatre Awards UK. Sweeney Todd has been nominated in no fewer than five categories in the Whatsonstage.com Awards: Best Actor in a Musical, Best Actress in a Musical, Best Musical Revival, Best Director and Best Lighting Designer.
Thriller Live entered its fifth year in the West End at the Lyric Theatre on 22 January 2013, and is celebrating the fact that it has just passed a million ticket sales in London.
Directed by Matthew White and choreographed by Bill Deamer, Top Hat arrived in the West End in April 2012 having completed a 20 week sell-out UK tour. 77 years after its movie release, which saw Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers playing the roles of Jerry Travers and Dale Tremont, this award-winning production continues at the Aldwych Theatre.
Viva Forever! just opened at London’s Piccadilly Theatre in December and is wowing audiences with its clever mix of classic Spice Girls hits combined with Jennifer Saunders’ irresistibly funny story.
War Horse celebrated its fifth anniversary in 2012 and has now been seen by over 1.7 million people in London and by 2.5 million people worldwide. Having premiered at the National Theatre in October 2007 and now in its fourth year in the West End, Nick Stafford’s adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s book has continued to play to sell-out houses at the New London Theatre. Its North American tour is on-going and an Australian production is currently in Melbourne before playing seasons in Sydney and Brisbane. A further production will embark on a UK tour later in 2013.
In 2012, We Will Rock You entered its 11th year in London. It is now ranked ninth in the list of longest running current West End shows with over 4,000 performances. Over 15 million people have seen it worldwide and the show has won the public vote awards at both the Whatsonstage.com and Olivier Awards. Over its 10 year history, We Will Rock You has broken all box office records for a musical at the Dominion Theatre, one of London’s largest theatre venues.
Wicked, which celebrated its sixth Birthday in September 2012, is already the 16th longest running musical in West End theatre history. While continuing its record-breaking, open-ended run at the Apollo Victoria Theatre (where it has been seen by almost five million people), the multi award-winning musical has also announced a major tour of the UK and Ireland, which will debut at the Palace Theatre in Manchester in September 2013.
The Woman In Black entered its 23rd year in the West End and enjoyed a bumper year bolstered by the release of the film version in January 2012, which starred Daniel Radcliffe and became the highest-grossing British horror film ever.
Yes, Prime Minister returned to the West End in 2012 for an unprecedented fourth London season and toured for more than 50 weeks throughout the UK. During this time, the production
celebrated its 1000th performance. As a result of the successful stage production, the television series was recommissioned and is now being broadcast on UK Gold. Building on its West End success, 2012 also saw the show transfer to Melbourne, Sydney and Perth, and there is an LA opening expected in 2013.