It’s a sad day when the final curtain comes down on a West End show, especially when it’s been a long running production. But with this comes the promise of a new spectacle, ready and eager to take its place. With the competition for West End venues higher than ever, this year is set for a shake up as some magical mainstream shows are to close for good, move on to tours, transfer theatres or set sail for Broadway.
- Cats to School of Rock
The first popular musical to close this year was Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats, which was set for a limited run and finished on 2nd January at the London Palladium and is now heading for a European tour. Replacing this unique musical is a new, highly anticipated adaptation of School of Rock which is set to hit the stage in autumn this year. Following the success of film-to-musical productions such as Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Shrek, Lloyd Webber’s latest venture has much to live up to, but if it’s anything like the film, it promises to be a fun show for all the family.
- Miss Saigon to Aladdin
Over at the Prince Edward theatre, Cameron Mackintosh’s West End revival of Miss Saigon is taking its final flight on 27th February and is crossing the pond to Broadway opening next spring. Along with the helicopter (spoiler!) the show will be taking Eva Noblezada to reprise her role as Kim and Jon Jon Briones as The Engineer. As an award winning five star show, the Prince Edward has big boots to fill. Thankfully, the Broadway success Aladdin will be moving in and officially opening at the theatre on 9th June, starring the original Broadway Genie, Trevor Dion Nicholas. Sprinkled with the same Disney magic as The Lion King this will definitely be a show to watch out for!
- Bend It Like Beckham to Guys and Dolls
After a ten month stint, the musical adaptation Bend It Like Beckham is closing on 5th March after an award winning run. Even after rave reviews there is simply too much competition in West End theatres, and the Phoenix Theatre will soon be home to the 1950s musical Guys and Dolls, which is transferring from the Savoy Theatre on 19th March. Switching from a culturally diverse and innovative show to a more traditional musical will be a big change for the Phoenix Theatre; it seems new writing is being replaced by an old audience favourite.
- War Horse
The record-breaking and emotional rollercoaster that is War Horse is set to close on 12th March. Adapted from Michael Morpurgo’s heart-warming children’s book, with the aid of the Handspring Puppet Company, this play has run for an incredible 3,000 performances at the New London Theatre following a transfer from the National Theatre in 2009. All is not lost though as the show is galloping into a UK tour starting in September. As for the theatre, it’s a potential venue for a transfer of the new revolutionary Broadway musical Hamilton, which Mackintosh is rumoured to be bringing to the West End next year.
- Billy Elliot
Finally, the biggest closure of them all! For eleven years, the Victoria Palace Theatre has been home to one of the most successful West End productions in history. After 4,600 performances of inspiring music and dance Billy Elliot is finishing its run on 9th April and head straight for a UK and Ireland Tour. As for the theatre, the Palace is set for a much needed renovation but is also a potential venue for the Hamilton transfer.
As these well-loved shows leave the West End for good, the new productions taking to the stage have the opportunity to ‘wow’ audiences and make their mark on the London theatre scene. Whilst the question remains, which show will be a success and which will flop, it’s certain that the West End is set for a dramatic and exciting 2016.
Image Credit: Bahman Farzad via Flickr