Monday, June 20, 2016

Upcoming up North

The summer and autumn of 2016 will bring many interesting musicals to Northern European stages. At the moment, I'm planning on seeing three productions outside of Finland. Beginning this Saturday, it's time to travel to see...

Jekyll & Hyde // Theater Vorpommern, Greifswald, Germany

Photo by Vincent Leifer

Based on a video bootleg and seeing him live in Dracula a year and a half ago, I made a promise: if Chris Murray ever plays the title roles in Jekyll & Hyde again, I will be there to witness it.

Guess what.

Theater Vorpommern's Jekyll & Hyde will be performed outdoors. As is always the case with Frank Wildhorn's musicals, going in, you don't really know what you're going to get. Which edition of the script will the production feature, which songs are we going to hear? Who knows. But I'm curious to find out. Based on the photos I've seen, this production looks like a lot of fun. Also, if Chris Murray is half as amazing as he's on the video from the 2008 Dresden production of J&H, his performance is going to be breathtaking.

And whatever the show will be like, watching a favourite musical outdoors on a midsummer night, with friends with you in the audience and a favourite actor onstage, will certainly be a night to remember.

Les Misérables // Wermland Opera, Karlstad, Sweden

Photo by Mats Bäcker

In July, it's Les Misérables time for me.
It's been two years since I last saw Les Misérables. It's the longest time I've been without live Les Mis since becoming a fan in 2010. So I'd say it's about time. I'm eagerly looking forward to seeing the show in Wermland Opera – though not because of the cast, or the direction, or any other detail specific to this production. Above all, I just want to spend a night with Jean Valjean, Javert, Cosette and all the others again.

I guess Wermland Opera's Les Mis is going to be an emotional experience. Hearing Les Misérables sung in Swedish, and performed in an old theatre that looks a lot like Åbo Svenska Teater... As long-time readers know, the 2010–12 Fenno-Swedish Les Mis is my all-time favourite musical production. Hearing the show in Swedish will always be extra special for me.

Listen to them sing the song of my heart:

Klokkeren fra Notre Dame // Fredericia Teater, Fredericia, Denmark

 I have been waiting to see this musical for over five years.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame is my favourite Disney movie. In 1999, three years after the movie, a stage adaptation called Der Glöckner von Notre Dame premiered in Berlin. Ever since finding out the musical exists, I have been obsessing over it and wishing it would be revived.

After its initial three-year run, Hunchback the musical disappeared for a decade. Despite wishing for its return, I didn't really believe it would ever come back. The Hunchback is one of Disney's darkest animated movies, and the musical is even darker. I thought they had forgotten about it for good – I just didn't see it following The Little Mermaid and Aladdin in Disney Theatrical Group's plans.

So you can imagine how I felt like, reading the news of The Hunchback's 2014 American premiere, and then listening to the brand-new English-language cast recording. And now the revived, revised Hunchback has found its way to Europe, premiering in Denmark in the autumn of 2016!

The Hunchback of Notre Dame has everything I want to see in a musical. It's dramatic, tragic, historical, huge. Alan Menken's score, composed of songs featured in the movie and new material written for the stage, is one of my all-time favourites. I also appreciate how the musical brings the story closer to Victor Hugo's original tale. There are no comic relief gargoyles here. It's a solemn, dark, upsetting adaptation I believe Hugo would approve of.

I feel like tearing up each time I listen to The Hunchbacks' first act finale, Esmeralda. I can't even imagine how it will feel like, finally watching the musical live. I get chills just thinking about sitting in the theatre. I don't remember the last time I've waited for a musical production this eagerly. This year, October can't come early enough.

But first, Germany and Sweden, here I come!

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