Musicals extend London runs

Published April 1, 2009

Three of the West End’s hit musicals, The Lion King, Blood Brothers and recent Laurence Olivier Award winner Jersey Boys, have announced extensions to their current runs, taking their London engagements into the autumn and beyond.

The stage adaptation of hit Disney animation The Lion King is now taking bookings for its run at the Lyceum theatre until 31 January 2010. The tale of a lion cub’s struggle to believe in himself and save his family opened at the London venue in October 1999 when it received eight Laurence Olivier Award nominations, wowing theatregoers with its famous score and innovative use of puppetry and costume. Now in its 10th year, the cast is led by singer and actor Shaun Escoffery, who was nominated for a Laurence Olivier Award in 2008 for his performance in Parade.

Blood Brothers has been running even longer than The Lion King, opening at the Noel Coward theatre, then named the Albery, in 1988 before transferring to the Phoenix theatre in 1991. It has now added four months to its booking period and is booking until 28 November 2009. The current production is actually a revival, the original opening in 1983 when it received only a short run before closing, though it still won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Musical. Penned by Willy Russell, it is a tale of Liverpudlian twins separated as babies who live very different lives but are drawn back together with devastating consequences.

A relative newcomer compared to The Lion King and Blood Brothers, Jersey Boys opened at the Prince Edward theatre in March 2008 and recently won the 2009 Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Musical. Having enjoyed a hugely successful first year in London’s West End, the show’s producers have extended its run to 27 March 2010. The biographical tale of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons features a host of the American band’s hits, including Sherry, Walk Like A Man, December 1963 (Oh What A Night) and Big Girls Don’t Cry.

The shows’ extensions and popularity is another sign that the theatre industry is bucking the recession, drawing theatregoers to some of the best live entertainment available anywhere in the world.

MA