When shows on the West End receive positive reviews from the critics, they often make their way to Broadway. Some shows that manage to succeed with audiences in both the UK and across the pond even end up winning both Oliver and Tony Awards. Here, we look at a selection of the most successful shows on the West End that were later given the Broadway treatment and why advances stateside loved these shows so much.
The Phantom of the Opera
Making its Broadway debut in 1988, here we have what is quite possibly the most popular musical in history. With a run lasting for more than 30 years and counting in New York and London, the show has received high praise for its high-quality production values, along with its wonderful soundtrack. The Broadway cast originally starred Sarah Brightman and Michael Crawford reprising the roles they played in London. The Phantom of the Opera won a Tony Award for best musical in 1988 and it still entertains audiences on Broadway today.
Among the more successful musicals on the West End, Les Misérables made its Broadway debut at the Broadway Theatre in 1987. Colm Wilkinson reprised his role of Jean Valjean, which helped the show win over audiences and sell more than $4 million worth of tickets prior to opening night. The show’s run lasted three years. It subsequently moved to the Imperial Theatre, which would remain home to the show until its final performance in May of 2003.
Mamma Mia opened on Broadway in 2001, two years after it began its West End run. Louise Pitre was presented with a Theatre World Award for her performance of Donna Sheridan. In 2002, the show also received a Best Musical Animation award at the Tony Awards. Audiences fell in-love with the ABBA soundtrack; the popularity of the musical was helped even more by the movie version’s release in 2008. Having ran for close to 14 years, the show closed in 2015 after 5,000 performances.
War Horse first appeared on Broadway’s Vivian Beaumont Theatre in 2011. It won a total of five Tony Awards, which included Best Direction and Best Play. It was a stunning show, with critics impressed by the unique application of puppetry. The story revolves around a boy called Albert who makes his way to France during WW1 in a bid to bring his horse back home with him. Sacrificing his own life, the little boy does all he can to bring his horse home to Britain. The show remained on Broadway for more than 18 months.
Based on the classic Gene Kelly movie from MGM, Singin’ in the Rain was given its world premiere in 1983 at the London Palladium. With songs that included ‘Make ‘Em Laugh’ and ‘Good Morning’, the musical tells the story of Don Lockwood and his career as a silent movie star as he is forced to go through a career change in the advent of talkies. Adam Cooper is set to reprise his role as Lockwood in 2020 at Sadler’s Wells.