Mary Poppins may have started in the West End, but she found herself flying all the way to Broadway in 2006. Both critics and audiences loved seeing the Disney classic being brought to life on stage. It also managed to receive seven Tony Awards nominations, including best musical. Gavin Lee played Bert in both London and New York, and the titular character was played by Ashley Brown until she was replaced by Scarlett Strallen in 2008. After more than 2,500 shows, it ended its run at New York’s Amsterdam Theatre in 2013. Mary Poppins is back in London in 2019.
J.K. Rowling caught a lot of attention when she put out Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in 2016. New York was eagerly anticipating the West End hit show before it finally made its Broadway debut in 2018. With a smart #KeepTheSecrets campaign, theatregoers were asked to avoid revealing any major plot points on their social media accounts. The show, which is still playing at London’s Palace Theatre and New York’s Lyric Theatre, has a reputation for its tickets being extremely difficult to get a hold of.
Starlight Express got its skates on in 1987 when it made its Broadway debut after having been a fixture at the West End. There were some major changes made to the production designed to woo an American audience, as the Broadway version saw characters racing across the country for the “silver dollar” trophy. The Gershwin Theatre was forced to go through a renovation in order to accommodate a skating track. The design worked so well that the New York Times compared the auditorium to a “pinball machine”. Songwriter Andrew Lloyd Webber also changed the lyrics and music. The show ran for close to two years before it closed in 1989.
Miss Saigon’s first Broadway performance was back in 1991, two years after its West End premiere. With a Madame Butterfly-inspired story, a romance takes place between a Vietnamese woman called Kim and a United States Marine. Their romance is put to the test as they are forced to prove themselves to each other while the war is going on around them. Jonathan Pryce and Lea Salonga were cast in the starring roles. American audiences knew all about the American war, so that was always going to strike a chord with them. With that in mind, its Broadway success wasn’t a huge shock. The curtain closed on Miss Saigon in 2011, but later saw a 10-month revival in 2017-2018.
Matilda gave its Broadway premiere in 2013, allowing American audiences to see a Roald Dahl story on stage for the very first time. With Tim Minchin providing the soundtrack, the musical took home the best book award at the 2013 Tony Awards. Matilda, which tells of a young child with telekinetic powers, ran for more than 1,500 shows, with the final show held on New Year’s Day, 2017. Matilda is still showing in the West End at the Cambridge Theatre.