2000 West End

The National Theatre (Wikipedia)

The year 2000 was the beginning of a new theatrical decade, although pedantic purists would argue this didn’t technically start for another year. The new millennium brought with it a wave of new theatre, some of which continued well into the decade and some that seemed to be hit by the feared ‘millennium bug’, failing to take off. The death of John Gielgud, as featured below, acted as symbolic shift to a new type of theatre. In a decade that would see the ‘c’ word sung onstage at the National Theatre, a raft of jukebox musicals and some stunning revivals of classic drama, 2000 really was the beginning of a new dawn.

 

In the 2000 West End season, statistics spoke for themselves with the Society of London Theatre (SOLT) reporting record audience figures of over 11.5 million people – a figure that was expected to climb year upon year. Any one who doubted the weight of the West End both culturally and financially had their arguments shattered, as the industry continued to flourish in West End and Off West End venues a like.

 

The National Theatre, still at the helm of Trevor Nunn produced a number of new works as well as successful celebrity turns, including Simon Russell Beale’s Hamlet, and Vanessa and Corin Redgrave in a studio production of Chekhov’s classic The Cherry Orchard. The biggest success of the season however came from Howard Davis, whose glorious production of Arthur Miller’s All My Sons starred Julie Walters and James Hazeldine as Kate and Joe Keller. William Dudley’s magnificent set brought Miller’s poplar trees to life, creating a groundbreaking production of this classic play.

 

The year was a successful one for Musical Theatre, with the NT’s production of Honk! – the musical based on the Ugly Duckling, with music and lyrics by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe taking home the Olivier Award for Best New Musical, beating favourites Mamma Mia and The Lion King, showing Disney that a large budget does not always equal success.

 

All eyes were on Andrew Lloyd Webber and Ben Elton’s new musical to deliver the goods at the Cambridge Theatre when it opened on 26thSeptember to a mixed critical response. With

Andrew Lloyd Webber (misstraceynolan)

book and lyrics by comedian Ben Elton and Score by the Lord himself, The Beautiful Game brought together the troubles in Ireland with football and was directed by Robert Carson. Many praised the score, leaving a cold reception for Elton’s ‘crass’ book and lyrics. Despite a run of only 11 months, the show was not put to rest. The song ‘Our Kind of Love’ would see itself reworked into the title song for Lloyd Webber’s second new musical of the decade in 2009.

 

Meanwhile at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, producer Cameron Mackintosh opened a brand new musical version of the John Updike novel The Witches of Eastwick. Sadly Cher was not invited to reprise her role from the film version – instead musical theatre legends Maria Friedman, Joanna Riding and Lucie Arnaz became the three small town personalities seduced by Ian McShane’s Devil Daryl Van Horne. The show transferred to the more intimate Prince of Wales Theatre, where it managed a 15 month run, closing in October 2001 which the producer believed was due to the decline in tourism due to the 9/11 disasters.

 

Notre Dame de Paris – Cast Album (Wikipedia)

The Shaftesbury Theatre lived up to its ‘cursed’ status after Napoleon the Musical opened and closed 6 months later. Long before her X Factor judging days, Danii Minogue took on the role of Esmeralda in Notre Dame de Paris whichfilled the Dominion Theatre for an impressive 17 months, to mainly negative responses.

 

 Shows opening in London’s West End

Madame Melville, Long Day’s Journey into Night, The Graduate, The Seven Year Itch, The Lady in the Van, Lautrec, Napoleon, Hedwig and the Angry Itch, Singin’ in the Rain – National, Albert Speer – National, Hamlet – National, All My Sons – National, The Beautiful Game – Cambridge.

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