You're The Inspiration Chicago
As chosen by theatre boffin and Smooth Afternoons presenter Paul Phear.
Motown: The Musical already has arguably the greatest catalogue of pop songs to chose from and this show guided by label founder Berry Gordy himself should hit the sweet spot for UK Tamla fans. Previews start at the Shaftesbury Theatre from the 11th of February and I hope there'll be some Motown legends in the house for it's opening night performance on the 8th of March. London's Shaftesbury Avenue will be Dancing in the Streets until October 22nd.
Ten years is a long time for any show to play in the West End but it was still a surprise to hear that Billy Elliot's long run at the Victoria Palace theatre will end on the 9th of April 2016. New owner Cameron Mackintosh is sending his team in to give some TLC to this jewel of a venue. But the good news is that Billy will be tapping all over the UK in it's first national tour through to May 2017. It starts in Plymouth on 24th of February.
Sunny Afternoon tells the story of London rock band The Kinks and how it nearly broke, in every sense of the word, founder member Ray Davies. His songs like 'Waterloo Sunset' and 'Days' fit seamlessly into the story and the World Cup scene will make English viewers yearn for 1966 all over again. Continues at the Harold Pinter Theatre in London and the first UK tour opens at the Opera House Manchester in August and plays all over the UK into March 2017.
Expect a huge and colourful event when Cameron Mackintosh brings Disney's Aladdin musical to his huge Prince Edward theatre in London. Former Sugababe and our most successful Eurovision entrant in recent memory Jade Ewen has every little girl's dream role as Princess Jasmine. She's an experienced musical theatre performer as is her Aladdin co-star Dean John-Wilson. Opening in late June next year.
I love the imaginative production of the The Railway Children at the Kings Cross Theatre in London. The action happens along and around a railway line, and there's a star appearance from a real vintage steam train. If you don't well up at the famous "Daddy, my Daddy!" moment I think you'll need to check if you are actually a human. Get your platform tickets before it ends on April 10th.
Funny Girl has completely sold out its run at the Menier Chocolate Theatre in London, probably thanks to the star power of leading lady Sheridan Smith. She's been fantastic in every show I've seen her in and some are predicting this could be her launch pad in America if it goes to New York. The good news is that it will also play at the Savoy theatre from early April for a 22 week run. Tickets are going fast so don't delay if you want to catch this classic Broadway musical.
The role of Holly Golightly in a stylish production of Breakfast at Tiffany's will be shared by Pixie Lott and Emmerdale and musical star Verity Rushworth in 2016. Catch it on tour around the country before it returns to London's Theatre Royal Haymarket in the summer. The show's website will tell you which actress will be taking the part so memorably played by Audrey Hepburn, at your local venue.
Spending Christmas and January in Leeds, the West Yorkshire Playhouse's new production of family musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang will fly all over the UK soon. Jason Manford (who has strong musical skills) heads the touring cast as Caractacus Potts and Spandau Ballet's Martin Kemp will terrify your kids as the evil child catcher until 24th of April. A new cast will be announced for the rest of the dates soon. This tune filled show is on the road through to early 2017!
Jersey Boys is still one of the best examples of a 'jukebox' musical. It's got loads of great pop tunes and the story of The Four Season's journey from hoodlums to hit makers is remarkable and worth telling. The touring show is in Glasgow for Christmas and will also visit Northampton and Wolverhampton before returning to Scotland for a finale week in Edinburgh in March. The West End production is keeping them dancing in the aisles through to October 23rd at the Piccadilly Theatre.
New British musical Mrs Henderson Presents tells the true story of London's Windmill Theatre which famously never closed during World War Two and was the first venue to present full (if static) nudity. Based on the 2005 Judi Dench film and with star west end names Tracie Bennett and the brilliant and beautiful Emma Williams, this has all the makings of a must-see show at London's Noel Coward Theatre. From the 19th of February.