AXED – Musicals that closed long before their time

With news today at The Jeremy Kyle Show has been axed on ITV after fourteen years, after a participant took their own life after appearing on the show, it got me thinking about musical’s that closed unexpectedly or ahead of their time.

Stephen Ward
In 2013, Andrew Lloyd Webber unveiled his latest musical (with Don Black and Christopher Hampton), Stephen Ward at London’s Aldwych Theatre. Based on the story of the Profumo affair (a British political scandal of a brief sexual relationship in 1961 between John Profumo, the Secretary of State for War and Christine Keeler, a 19-year-old model) the musical was just as bizarre as the story on which it was based. Whilst I still think there are some brilliant songs on this cast recording, the production values of the show and the strange subject for a story line meant the show closed after just four months in the West End.

Love Never Dies
Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s sequel to The Phantom of the Opera (one of the longest running musicals in West End history), Lover Never Dies was hugely anticipated when it announced it would be opening at London’s Adelphi Theatre in 2010. But reviews were not positive and despite the show being closed for a while whilst rewrites were done to try to improve the show, it closed less than eighteen months after its original opening. In 2011, a revised production toured Australia and was filmed for release on DVD. The exquisite filming of the production mixed with the great story and songs makes Love Never Dies one of my favourites still today and I long to see it back in the UK as it deserved a longer life than it had.

Viva Forever
In 2012, Judy Cramer announced that she would be bringing Viva Forever – the Spice Girls musical to London, written by Jennifer Saunders and with all the hits from the 90’s girl band. But despite a great back catalogue of songs from one of the greatest girls bands ever, the story was weak and the show closed after just seven months at London’s Piccadilly Theatre. I saw the show four times and still say it is as good as Mamma Mia! – it’s cheesy and frilly but it all you want for a good night out with friends. The musical also had some lovely versions of Spice Girls songs and medley’s which I think is a real shame were never released with a cast album. With the Spice Girls making a return to the concert stage this month, perhaps now is the time to revive the show and spice up our lives again!

Based on the 1976 Stephen King film, Carrie was adapted as a stage musical and premiered in Stratford Upon Avon in the UK in 1988 before it transferred to Broadway that same year. There were numerous technical issues with the show, trying to cover actors in bloody and not short circuit their microphones being the main one but after just twenty one performances on Broadway, investors pulled their funding from the show after negative reviews and heckling audiences were less than favourable about the show.

Rocky Horror Show
The original Broadway production of The Rocky Horror Show in 1975, played for just forty five performances. Despite successful runs in the West End, Los Angeles and Sydney, it seemed New York audiences weren’t quite ready for the bizarre musical. A film version of the 1973 musical was made and released the same year as the Broadway production but was also met with mixed reviews. Thankfully the Rocky Horror Show and the Rocky Horror Picture Show have gone on to become cult classics and are always being shown somewhere in the world.

What other musicals do you think were axed before they should have been?

Buy tickets to West End theatre shows (some great discounted offers)
Subscribe to my mailing list for all the latest theatre news, special offers and competitions