My two absolutely favourite shows have now departed the West End — Bend it Like Beckham (which closed last Saturday, but I’m sure will be back) and Close to You. Coupled with a slew of other recent scheduled closures, the West End is suddenly an unaccountably dark place. In addition to the Phoenix and the Criterion, also dark this week are the Palace, Wyndham’s and Prince Edward, as well as mostly the London Palladium (though it is staging one-nighters).
And the imminent closures this week of Guys and Dolls at the Savoy and War Horse at the New London will soon join the list of dark theatres.
All of them, of course, have their next shows already lined up, so it’s not for long — Hangmen, which closed at Wyndham’s last Saturday, is being replaced by People and Places and Things from next March 15; Guys and Dolls goes to the Phoenix from the Savoy from March 19.
Here are some of the shows opening this week and my top tips for what’s still playing.
This week’s main London openings
- Motown – Shaftesbury Theatre – Import from Broadway of the ultimate pop catalogue of Motown, the Detroit record label founded in the 60s by Berry Gordy who has itself authored the book for this show. It launched the careers of Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye and more, whose music all variously features in the show, opening officially on March 8.
- Bar Mitzvah Boy — Upstairs at the Gatehouse – Fringe outing for the short-lived 1978 West End musical that has a score with music by Jule Styne (Gypsy, Funny Girl), and lyrics by the Oscar-winning Don Black (currently represented int he West End by Mrs Henderson Presents, see below, and soon to be represented by the revival of Sunset Boulevard at the London Coliseum that he also wrote lyrics for). It opens on March 10.