For the past several decades, New York’s Broadway and London’s West End have had a fair exchange of musicals between them. In fact, three of the five longest-running musicals on Broadway premiered in London before transferring to New York (The Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, and Cats). At the same time, Americans who are not as familiar with the West End scene have missed out on certain shows which (regrettably) never transferred to New York. Here are 10 great London musicals that never had a Broadway transfer. If they aren’t already on your radar, check them out to take your Theatre Nerd status to the next (international) level.
1. Love Never Dies.
The long-anticipated sequel to Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera premiered in London in 2010. The plot concerns the character, soprano Christine Daaé, who receives a mysterious invitation to perform at the opening of Phantasma, a new attraction on Coney Island. The musical had runs in Melbourne, Copenhagen, Hamburg, Tokyo, and is expected to have a U.S. tour next year.
2. We Will Rock You.
Featuring the music of Queen, this jukebox musical premiered in London in 2002, and ran there for 12 years. The plot concerns a group of Bohemians who wish to restore freedom of expression to a conformist society. Aside from several international productions, its most notable American productions are a Las Vegas production and a North American tour beginning in 2013.
3. Jerry Springer: the Opera.
This outrageous musical, which premiered in London in 2003, is chock full of blasphemy and extensive profanity, including a tap-dancing troupe of Ku Klux Klan members. Despite a successful UK tour, the proposed Broadway production for 2005 was ultimately cancelled.
Written by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, this adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Ugly Duckling” premiered in Newbury, Berkshire in 1993 before opening in London in 1999. Although Honk! is popular among children’s and regional theatres throughout Britain and the U.S., a transfer to Broadway has yet to happen.
Co-written by the masterminds behind Les Miserables (Boublil, Schönberg, and Kretzmer), this musical is about a 40 year-old singer whose young lover is caught in the middle of the French Resistance. Aside from its 2008 London premiere and its 2012 revival there, the musical has been produced in Tokyo and Ostrava.
6. Spend Spend Spend.
Written by Steve Brown and Justin Green, this rags-to-riches-to-rags-again story retells the true story of a woman who wins £152,000 in football pools, but eventually her life turns to chaos. Premiering on West End in 1998, the musical was later revived in Bagnor, Berkshire in 2009.
Based on the 1927 silent film of the same name, this musical by Joe Brooks and Dusty Hughes premiered on West End in 1989. It marked the London debut of Judy Kuhn, who provided the singing voice of Pocahontas in the Disney film of the same name.
8. Bend It Like Beckham.
With its music and lyrics by Howard Goodall and Charles Hart respectively, this musical based on the 2002 eponymous film premiered on West End in 2015, closed last March. With the recent tour and Broadway run of Bring It On: the Musical, it’s not hard to believe that sports-related musicals like Beckham could do well in New York.
9. Witches of Eastwick.
Based on the 1984 novel of the same name, this musical is about three witches whose attraction to the devil-like Darryl corrupts his every move. After premiering on West End in 2000, the musical has been produced in Moscow, Melbourne, and Sao Paolo. The musical premiered in the United States in 2007.
10. Peggy Sue Got Married.
Based on the 1986 film of the same name, this short-lived West End musical was a star vehicle for Ruthie Henshall, who earned an Olivier Award nomination for Best Actress in a Musical. It closed shortly after 9/11, due to the fewer amount of patrons flying to London.