UK Roundup - Spamalot, Woman in White, Avenue Q, Oliviers
2006 is proving to be a big year for big musicals, particularly Broadway imports. Adding to the already exciting line-up of Evita, Avenue Q, Movin' Out and Wicked, Spamalot has now announced UK dates for the Palace Theatre in London. The Eric Idle penned musical 'lovingly ripped off' from Monty Python and the Holy Grail opens at the Palace Theatre on October 6th with booking opening on February 21st seven months in advance. On Broadway Spamalot won the 2005 Tony Award for Best Musical and plays to 101% capacity weekly. Casting for the show will be announced shortly and could include Olivier award winner Simon Russell Beale, who currently takes the role of King Arthur in the Broadway production.
But in order for Spamalot to have the Palace Theatre, Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Woman in White will sadly have to close. The Victorian thriller, currently playing on Broadway at the Marquis Theatre, will end its nineteen month run on February 25th, possibly allowing another show to have a short run during the gap. Producer Sonia Friedman, whose sister Maria created the role of Marian in the original London cast with Michael Crawford as Count Fosco, said in a statement that she was proud to have produced the show, hailing it as a 'groundbreaking piece of musical storytelling [that] was also at the forefront of pioneering new technology with its innovative design'. Friedman insists it's not the end of the road for the show, with a UK tour in 2007 and plans for a reconceived London production.
Billy Elliot the Musical has received nine nominations for the 30th annual Laurence Olivier Awards. In addition to Best Musical, all three male alternates in the role of Billy are jointly nominated for Best Actor in a Musical. Close behind Billy Elliot is the Ewan McGregor led revival of Guys and Dolls, with nine nominations including a Best Actor in a Musical nod for McGregor and ones for all his co-stars; Douglas Hodge, Jane Krakowski and Jenna Russell. In the Best Director category Michael Grandage (Don Carlos, Guys and Dolls) is up against Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot), Richard Eyre, Phyllida Lloyd and Melly Still. A full list of nominations can be found here, with winners announced in a private ceremony on February 26th.
When Avenue Q announced it was planning to open in London writers Jeff Marx and Bobby Lopez - speaking exclusively to Broadwayworld.com - said they would 'have to do some rewrites for the upcoming London version of Avenue Q, trying to avoid some potentially confusing issues like Brits wondering "who is Gary Coleman?"'. Well, since that admission they've been busy rewriting indeed Gary Coleman has now been cut from the show. Instead of the ex-child star landlord played by a woman it will now be a man who 'has the same arc as our famous Gary Coleman'. Dates and an officially confirmed venue for the show still haven't been announced. With Spamalot and Wicked booking up to seven months in advance, it needs to get its skates on for a good advance, though the success of the show is likely to spread through good word of mouth.
The upcoming musical Daddy Cool, based on songs by Boney M, has announced more casting. In addition to former So Solid Crew star Harvey the cast will include Popstars: The Rivals contestant Javine and former EastEnders star Michelle Collins. Though the show could seem quite quickly to be cursed; it's opening at the Shaftesbury, it has a strange line-up of headlining stars and Boney M doesn't exactly have the fan base of Abba or Queen, it does have some positives heading its way; it's topical (gang warfare in multicultural London), got bags of publicity in several leading newspapers thanks to the involvement of Harvey and Javine, and the choreographer has worked with Prince and Michael Jackson. Could be an interesting dark horse. It opens on May 16th.