Dominion Theatre Archive

Current show: The stage musical Bat Out Of Hell from 2 April to 28 July 2018

The early 1990s saw a range of limited run productions - both full-blown musicals and concert presentation - at the Dominion Theatre but then in July 1993 the 'new' stage version of Grease the Musical opened. Although Grease had been staged before in London (at the New London Theatre in 1970s with a cast that included Richard Gere as 'Danny') this was the first version that included the famous hit songs from the film which hadn't been included in the 1970s stage version including You're The One That I Want, Hopelessly Devoted To You and Grease Is The Word. This 1993 production starred Debbie Gibson as 'Sandy' and Craig McLachlan as 'Danny' who said that "the film was sweetened up a lot for cinema audiences which made fantastic entertainment. But the stage show is a lot tougher, rougher and raunchier. It has a real edge to it. We've decided that it's all right to shock people... Some of the moves are really tough and I've had to change the way I work out at the gym because too much muscle will slow me down... Although I really admire John Travolta, and think he did wonders with the role, I'm putting myself through hell to get it right - MY way." After running for over three years, Grease the Musical transferred to the Cambridge Theatre in October 1996.

The next production - which played for a three month holiday season - was Leslie Bricusse's Christmas themed musical Scrooge, based on the Charles Dickens novel and starring Anthony Newley as 'Ebenezer Scrooge'. Following this the rear backstage area of the theatre was extended and modified in order to make room for the huge costumes and sets required for the next show - Disney's Beauty and the Beast. Based on the animated film, with additional songs written by Tim Rice, the stage musical opened in May 1997 and played for just under three years before closing in December 1999 - interestingly just two months after the opening of Disney's The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre.

Having already broken the record for the longest West End run of a full length ballet production from its 21 week run at the Piccadilly Theatre in 1996, Matthew Bourne's Adventure in Motion Picture's Swan Lake returned to the West End for a six run at the Dominion Theatre from February to March 2000. The next show arrived, via Paris, a few months later in May 2000 - Notre Dame de Paris, written by Richard Cocciante and Luc Plamondon with a story based on the Victor Hugo novel, already had had a successful run Paris before it was translated into English by Will Jennings for its West End debut. Even before it opened the production caused controversy when it was revealed that, unlike other West End musical, the entire show used a pre-recorded soundtrack to accompany the singing. Unsurprisingly the Musicians' Union in London was up in arms, but eventually a deal was done with the show's producers to employ six musicians to play in the large main foyer both before the show and during the interval. The show opened to poor reviews from the newspapers - for example Ian Shuttleworth in the Financial Times said: "Notre-Dame De Paris is appalling. On its Parisian opening in 1998 it had the most successful first year of any musical in history, but it is appalling. One of its songs topped the French charts for a record 33 weeks, but it is appalling. According to the programme notes, everyone involved with the production in any way is a legendary figure of unprecedented talent, whose every merest utterance will live for ever, but . . . you've guessed it. Forgive the repetition, but there is no room for ambiguity here." John Peter in the Sunday Times described it as being "one of the most stupefyingly awful musicals I have seen in two decades." - despite this the show managed a very respectable run at this very large theatre - no doubt supported by a large number of tourists from France and Europe who were coming to London to specifically see the show - of some 17 months before eventually closing in October 2001. The musical Grease, having played already played here in 1993, then returned for a short two week pre-Christmas season in October 2001 as part of a major UK regional tour. In December Bottom 4: 2001 An Arse Oddity starring Rick Mayall and Adrian Edmondson and based on their television show played for three nights.

In Spring 2001 the West End was abuzz with rumours of a new jukebox musical based around the songs of Queen. When asked about the rumours while being interviewed on Capital Gold in March 2001, Brian May said: "The rumour is that we're doing a musical, which is true. Ben Elton has written us a fantastic script. We've actually been working on this damn musical for about four years and been through various ideas, some of which were biographical which in the end we didn't want to do. But now Ben came up with this great idea, so we've been workshopping it privately and possibly by the end of this year or the beginning of next year we hope it'll be on in the West End." And, for once, the rumour proved true when in November 2001 details of the musical - We Will Rock You - were announced with the show starting preview performances at the Dominion Theatre from April 2002.

The show opened on 14 May 2002 after which, as the show's choreographer Arlene Philips explains "the reviews came out - possibly the worse reviews ever written about any show ever anywhere. And we just thought: 'That's it, it's all over.'" But three weeks later, the show scored a coup at the Party at the Palace concert held in the grounds of Buckingham Palace on 3 June 2002 to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Elizabeth II. Broadcast live on television to an audience of millions, the concert featured a spectacular opening with Queen guitarist Brian May performing 'God Save the Queen' as a guitar solo on the roof of Buckingham Palace. Then later on the entire cast from the show along with the remaining members of Queen, performed an extended medley of Queen songs, as Philips goes on to explain: "We Will Rock You performed in the show and just blew the audience away. They just went for it and from that moment on it hasn't looked back - it is musical theatre for a new generation, and a generation of people that keep coming along with their backpacks and sitting down and watching We Will Rock You." The show survived the poor reviews and has now gone on to became the longest running show at the Dominion Theatre. Even when the show, in early 2006, announced that it would close in the Fall of that year, the number of tickets being sold increased so much that the show remained open with one of the show's producers saying at the time: "The fact is, the show has proved such a continuing draw with both the home market and visitors to London, that it became obvious that a move this year would be premature. Besides which, the theatre owners very much wanted us to stay. In the end, they, and the public, made the decision for us". The show went on to became the Dominion Theatre's longest running show by the time it finally closed some eight years later (and a total run of twelve years) in May 2014.

Following some refurbishment work over summer 2014, the theatre reopened in September 2014 with a short 55 performance season of Bill Kenwright's touring production of the Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice musical Evita featuring Marti Pellow playing the narrator role of 'Che' which was followed by a two month holiday season of the stage musical White Christmas from November 2014 to January 2015. Having played an acclaimed eight week season at the London Palladium in autumn 2014, Lord of the Dance - Dangerous Games returned to London in March 2015, playing a seven month season here before it transferred to the Playhouse Theatre to continue it's run - also over summer 2015 Aliens Love Underpants played a short season here of daytime performances. Christmas 2015 saw the arrival of the holiday themed family show Elf! The Musical which was followed a three month run of the West End stage premiere of Jeff Wayne's The War of the Worlds with an 'all-star' cast that featured David Essex, Jimmy Nail, Daniel Bedingfield, Heidi Range, Michael Praed and Madalena Alberto with, appearing on screen only as a 3D holograph, Liam Neeson. Although this production had been touring for a number of years, including performances in London, this was the show's first legit West End stage run for which it had been especially reimagined. Having already played a successful 21 month season at the Adelphi Theatre, the stage musical The Bodyguard returned, opening here in July 2016 for a limited six month summer and Christmas season. The first new show for 2017 was a transfer from Broadway of the Gershwin dance musical An American in Paris which opened here at the Dominion Theatre in March 2017.