Crystal ball gazing

I read the forums on this site from time to time, to see what people want to talk about. It seems there is a lot of conjecture about new productions about to open and also productions that are mooted over the next two years.

I read the forums on this site from time to time, to see what people want to talk about. It seems there is a lot of conjecture about new productions about to open and also productions that are mooted over the next two years.

The Australian commercial theatre scene which is generally dominated by musicals, is an unpredictable beast. Who would have believed that Hairspray would take so long to get here after years of rumours and then when it did come in without any big name cast after so many stars having been associated with it, over the years. Who would have thought Jersey Boys would play the Theatre Royal and re-vitalise that wonderful theatre and give it a whole new life? The list goes on as many readers predict and pick up rumours, some true, some half true. So I should precurse this column by saying a lot of what I write here is based on heresay, proposed tours, ideas of producers and a few definites. As an agent, I always say nothing is definite till I see the ink on the contract and even then, things can change at the last minute.

A lot of people seem to be interested in Doctor Zhivago, the musical version that opens at the Lyric early next year. There seems to be a lot of conjecture as to whether the show will tour, but I would imagine we’ll get some more news on this in the not-too-distant future.

The only other major musical that is locked away to start a long national tour is of course Rock of Ages, that along with Zhivago, Jersey Boys, Wicked, Mary Poppins and Hairspray and I predict a longer life for the Production Company’s version of The Boy from Oz with Mr Todd, these will keep most of our theatres busy and occupied for a good section of 2011.

As to the future? What is floating around, well Rocky Horror Show has been a great success in Korea and is mooted to tour all States (apart from Sydney and Melbourne where another version played not so long ago) during 2011. I hear about Xanadu coming in, and maybe in a much larger version than the Broadway one, but again this is only rumour.

Legally Blonde is an interesting show, it opened quite successfully in New York, then died at the box office after the failure of the casting from a reality show. The show was considered only a moderate success and one we would probably never see, then the road company went out in America and did unprecedented business proving the show had more life in it than was originally expected.

As a result, the musical went to the West End and has gone through the roof. Now there is serious interest in a possible return to Broadway and a production in Australia. In fact, I hear a production here is now more likely than it has ever been, though audiences may still need to wait a good year and a half for availability of theatres before it (probably) happens.

Over the years there have been many people talking about it being the ideal vehicle for many Ozzie talents, but the name that constantly seems most associated with it, and the person who would seem to be born to play the leading role is Christie Whelan after her acclaimed Helpmann nominated turn in The Drowsy Chaperone and her upcoming title role in Sugar later this year, not to mention the remarkable Britney Spears satirical cabaret show she had great success with in Sydney, that will tour to Melbourne later in the year.

One musical we all know about because Cameron Mackintosh has already talked about it, and that is the new production of Les Miserables which is sure to come to town early 2012 which is exactly 25 years since the original Australian production. This will be the re working of the show which has been so successful in the back blocks of the U.K. and will open for three weeks at the Barbican next month. This will occur at the same time as the original production continues at the Queens Theatre and a massive dream cast concert is played at the O2 arena. October will really be a “Les Miz’ month as it celebrates 25 years in its home town. It will be exciting to see this new production (sans revolve) when it opens in Australia, the new cast recording of it is very exciting indeed.

Finally, one musical everyone seems interested in, but I predict we probably won’t see is Love Never Dies. The show is struggling to survive in the West End and will soon close to be reworked. The Broadway production planned for early next year seems to have gone very quiet. There’s an old saying in show business, you know it’s a dog when it barks, and this show (unkindly tagged “Paint never Dries”) is looking increasingly like a dog. The Phantom sequel seems tarnished by bad word of mouth and some of the worst reviews of any musical to last past its first week. A production locally…hmm…??!!

So lets look quickly to the future of some of the exciting shows coming out of London and NewYork at the moment. Sister Act, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, The Scottsborough Boys, Woman on the Verge and the terrific revival of La Cage Aux Folles are all shows with great pedigree and I strongly predict we will be seeing more than a few of them here in the next few years.

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