THE BOOK OF MORMON, BRIDGET JONES, VIVA FOREVER, et al. Coming to London

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As the West End recovers from the scare of the city's recent riots and prepares for the 2012 Summer Olympics, the two incoming heads of the Society of London Theaters (SOLT, Julian Bird and Mark Rubinstein), are optimistic about the coming year, according to Variety.

"The riots had very little impact," says Bird, SOLT chief executive. "Sales at TKTS were the same as normal. On the streets of the West End itself over those days, nothing appeared to have changed."

One of the reasons for optimism is that box office advances for West End shows are higher than they were this time last year.

"Some of that is star-driven -- such as David Suchet in 'A Long Day's Journey Into Night' -- but then there's also the RSC hit production of 'Matilda,' which has no star names at all," he says. "Having a night out at the London theater is clearly something that people still like doing, and they're willing to book ahead."

Tony winner "The Book of Mormon," Stephen Daldry's "Bridget Jones' Diary" and Judy Craymer's Spice Girls musical "Viva Forever," are all set to take to the West End stage along with "Crazy for You," "Singin' in the Rain," "The Commitments" and "Top Hat."

The two executives are keeping an eye on the 2012 Olympics, which could have either a major positive or negative impact on the West End's business. Rubinstein sees the Games, schedled for July 27-Aug. 12, as a challenge and an opportunity. More people will be in town, but many sports-minded visitors may not want to spend a night at the theater.

Rubinstein feels the Olympics will be beneficial to the industry. "In the long term, they will be a good thing for London theater, provided we get it right in terms of using the occasion to promote British theater around the world," he says.

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