Cambridge Theatre Archive
Current Show: Mailda!
The mid-1990s at the Cambridge Theatre saw the arrival of the stage musical version of Fame, based on the famous movie and subsequent television series, which opened in June 1995. The musical followed a group of students from auditions to their graduation ceremony at the world famous New York High School of Performing Arts in New York City and featured the title song 'Fame' along with a number of new songs. The show was nominated for two Olivier Awards - Best Musical and Best Theatre Choreography - though it lost out in both categories. The show finally closed after a respectable run of 15 months. Interestingly the production would return to various theatres in the West End over the next 12 years, chalking up a combined run of nearly eight years.
In October 1996 the Cambridge Theatre welcomed the transfer from the Dominion Theatre of the musical Grease. Having already been running for just over three years, the production went on for another three years before closing in September 1999 to make way for the new Jerry Lee Lewis bio-musical Great Balls Of Fire. Unfortunately, despite Billy Geraghty's storming performance as Jerry Lee Lewis, the production failed to set the Box Office on fire and the show closed after less than three months, closing in December, the week before Christmas - and it would be another ten months before the next show opened here.
That next show was the eagerly awaited new musical from Andrew Lloyd Webber called The Beautiful Game which featured a book written by the comedian and novelist Ben Elton. Webber had previously approached Elton to do a updated revision of the long-running musical Starlight Express, but Elton had turned this down, wanting instead to work with Webber on a new stage property, which turned out to the The Beautiful Game (also called The Boys in the Photo). The show opened to mixed notices, but still managed a run of just over 11 months.
This left the theatre empty, ready for the return of Fame the Musical from September 2001 for a run of 11 months, making way for the new musical Our House to open in October 2002. Written by Tim Firth using the songs of Madness and based around Camden in North London, the musical's story featured 'Joe' and the two different paths that life and love took him - both played out on stage in parallel to each other, similar to the movie Sliding Doors from a couple of years previous. The show managed a run of ten months during which it was recorded for a DVD release.
The next production was the highly controversial musical Jerry Springer The Opera which, having opened to some excellent rave reviews from the newspapers transferred from the National Theatre in October 2003. Written by Stewart Lee and Richard Thomas and based on the television show The Jerry Springer Show, it was described as an 'opera' due to the fact it was completely 'sung-through'. The show was notable for its extensive use of profanity and its controversial depiction of Judeo-Christian themes. The show hit the headlines when the BBC broadcast it at 10.00pm on BBC2 on Saturday 2005 as part of a 'Jerry Springer Evening' when it received the somewhat the dubious distinction of becoming the most complained about television event ever. In total the BBC received over 62,000 complaints - of which over 52,000 preceded the broadcast with the purpose of endeavouring to persuade the BBC not to transmit the programme. Many people complained about the purported 8,000 swear words the musical was meant to contain, though the BBC reported there were actually around 200 f-words and nine c-words which the BBC acknowledged was a substantial number, they did not necessarily view this as being unacceptable in terms of late night terrestrial television. Prior to the broadcast, the stage production had been reportedly struggling trying to attract an audience and, while the producers had evidently hoped that the broadcast would help boost attendance, it actually had the opposite effect and the show closed six weeks after the television broadcast on 19 February 2005. During June and July 2004, the Pub Landlord Al Murray presented his show Giving it Both Barrels on a series of Sunday evenings.
In June 2005 Derren Brown presented his Something Wicked This Way Comes for a one month season as part of his UK tour. This was quickly replaced with Dancing in the Streets which celebrated the music of Motown in a concert style musical. which enjoyed a ten month run before it transferred to the Aldwych Theatre in April 2006. It was replaced at the Cambridge Theatre with a transfer from the Adelphi Theatre of the long running revival of Chicago which run here for just over five years before it transferred again, this time to the Garrick Theatre. In November 2011, transferring from the RSC's Stratford Theatre, was the new musical Matilda which continues to play at the Cambridge Theatre.