The battle of the cities continues, as we size up the theatrical offerings of London’s West End against New York’s Broadway.
Glitzy, gaudy and glamorous,
From the days of William Shakespeare in the 16th Century, thespian entertainment has been an essential part of
Hundreds of high profile productions come and go, receiving rapturous applause and fierce journalistic debates. From more commercial plays such as Enron and Equus to many smaller, artistic productions, theatregoers clamour for precious tickets while they last. Fortunately many of the longstanding productions are refined, stunning performances whose popularity remains steadfast over the years…
The Mousetrap - Enjoying its own Diamond Jubilee this year, Agatha Christie’s infamous Mousetrap is a tantalising whodunit performed in a beautiful, 1950s English setting. Intriguing, humorous and with a twist which viewers are implored to keep secret, this play never dates.
Les Misérables - Depicting Victor Hugo’s tale of the 18th Century French Revolution, Les Misérables is an exhilarating and emotional performance, with some of the most loved theatre music in existence. Extravagant and big-hearted, this beautifully set musical is a classic for children and adults alike.
Woman In Black - The self proclaimed ‘most terrifying live theatre experience in the world’ is a dark and ghostly tale. Cynics beware – the deceivingly simple set paves way for a chilling, unforgettable theatrical experience.
War Horse - Michael Morpurgo’s poignant tale of a young boy and his beloved horse, sent out to war, is breathtaking in its imaginative simplicity. Using intricate puppetry, the production’s mimicry of horses’ movements is remarkable. This haunting, heartfelt story will remain etched on your mind.
Billy Elliot - Lively, energetic and full of the enthusiasm of youth, the stage production of this well-loved story of a young dancer is full of fun. With music composed by Elton John, this riotous musical is a family outing that can be enjoyed by all.
Royal Opera House - With both the Royal Ballet and the Royal Opera based here in the heart of
By name alone, the legendary Broadway Theatre District conjures drama: bright lights, thunderous applause, the flurry of success and the bitterness of a flop. There are nearly as many songs about Broadway as there are songs on Broadway (and don’t forget the oddly infamous term “Broadway hands”). And like any good drama, the district itself has the storied past of a sparkling rise, a troubled fall (refer to the film, Taxi Driver, if you want to glimpse the darker days), and ultimately a fabulous rebirth. Today, theatre fans from around the globe flock to bask in the glow of the marquees and give their regards to Broadway.
The District is home to 40 large professional theaters, with countless other small venues tucked around every corner. From revivals like Show Boat, which premiered in 1927 at the Ziegfeld Theatre, to modern creations like The Lion King (currently the most popular show running), Broadway musicals are definitive of the genre and at the top of the list of attractions for many who visit the Big Apple.
Yet, musicals are just half of it. The Broadway Theatre District also produces and supports top notch serious theatre productions, a precedent set by Eugene O’Neill, whose groundbreaking work set the stage, so to speak, for major dramatists like Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller. It’s here where so many Hollywood actors prove they have what it takes to emote convincingly without editing.
Here’s a quick run-down of some of the hottest acts currently playing:
Book of Mormon – A collaboration between the creators of the infamous cartoon, “South Park,” and the composer of “Avenue Q,” the musical is about two wholesome, naïve missionaries who find themselves as far out of their element as possible. Though it is as blasphemous and foul-mouthed as one would expect, it is also wildly enjoyable in a curiously old-fashioned, Broadway Musical kind of way.
Clybourne Park – Bruce Norris’s Pulitzer Prize winning play is a hard-hitting and hilarious portrayal of a uniquely American conundrum. Using a Chicago home for focal point and spanning 50 years, the play’s complex performances and deep resonance is impossible to ignore. As one fan puts it, “Clybourne Park is brainy yet accessible, and loaded with “Did they really just say that?” moments.”
Venus in Furs – There is no way to anticipate this provocative and thrilling reimagining of the steamy novella by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. An intense audition encounter between a young actress and a playwright/director becomes transcendent with award-worthy performances from Nina Arianda (one of the hottest actresses on Broadway) and Hugh Dancy.
Peter and the Starcatcher – Directed by Roger Rees and Alex Timbers, this steampunk-infused retelling of the Peter Pan story, will defy all preconceptions about Broadway. “A true flight of fancy,” as one fan coyly described it, the ambitious production utilizes the talents of 12 actors who portray 50 characters. It is definitely a show that will enchant adults and children alike.
Rock of Ages – If you haven’t seen the movie version with Tom Cruise yet (or even if you have), treat yourself to the original stage production of Rock of Ages. Especially fun for “generation X-ers,” the show is splashy and larger than life in every way a Broadway musical should be. As the NY Times put it, “it’s a seriously silly, absurdly enjoyable arena-rock musical.”
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Opening in September 2012) – The classic bickering couple, George and Martha, has found a home on Broadway again, 50 years to the day of their original premiere on September 27, 1962. Should you be heading to the Big Apple this autumn, and fancy a strong dose of classic drama, this play should top your “must-see” list.
Memphis: If you prefer the classic Broadway musical style but want to see a new creation this 2010 Tony Award winner is the way to go. The current cast is brilliant, playing on the heartstrings in one moment and joyously swooping the audience into a frenzy the next. As one regular audience member described, “the singing and dancing is still tight and energetic, 2 1/2 years after opening night.”Google+