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Jukebox Musicals: The Next Contenders

By Lauren Ball

With Thriller Live shacked up at the Lyric Theatre, The Commitments rocking the Palace and Mamma Mia! serving up sequins and nostalgia nightly at the Novello, jukebox musicals have taken the West End by storm. Our own Piccadilly Theatre and Harold Pinter Theatre are proud to host transfers of the smash hits Jersey Boys and Sunny Afternoon: jukebox musicals with a twist, they shun fiction and tell the true life stories of Big Girls Don't Cry hit-makers Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons and quintessentially English rockers The Kinks respectively.

But why stop there? Here are ten artists who deserve a crack at West End glory, and some plot tips while we're at it. You're welcome, future Olivier winners. Give us a nod in your acceptance speech (and some cold hard cash, if you like).

Elton John

Elton John is no stranger to the West End, having penned scores for the hugely successful Disney's The Lion King, Billy Elliott and Aida, but a musical featuring his own back catalogue is yet to hit the stage. With a vast collection of ready-made 11 o'clock numbers including I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues and Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me, surely somebody, somewhere, is already pitching this. Working title: Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting (come on, that's a great title).

LCD Soundsystem

Beat Connection
: a choreography-driven piece about the trials and tribulations of young artists living in New York. Somebody get Kate Prince on the phone, like, now.

David Bowie

Back in November 2011 it was reported that Heroes: The Musical - the story of Space Oddity's Major Tom set to the songs of the Thin White Duke - would premiere at London's Indig02 in March 2012. This was news to his spokesman, however, who denied that there were any negotiations pending for a Bowie musical. Three years later and no such performance has surfaced, but with the success of the V&A's David Bowie Is... exhibition, a new album and a Best Male Solo Artist triumph at the Brit Awards, perhaps now is the time to get that rumour mill going again.

Kelly Clarkson

A coming-of-age story entitled Breakaway. A female protagonist with a troubled family life (Because of You) strikes out on her own to chase an unspecified dream. She gets distracted by a love interest who does her wrong and gets kicked to the curb (Since U Been Gone). She has good times, bad times, learns some lessons and sings the title track towards the end of the second act. The big finale number is My Life Would Suck Without You as she reunites with her now reformed lover. It's a bit like Coyote Ugly but with less John Goodman. This thing is writing itself.

Anais Mitchell

Mitchell's 2010 folk opera Hadestown comes pre-packaged with a plot and interesting cast of characters. A variation on the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, in which Orpheus embarks on a quest to rescue his wife Eurydice from the Underworld, she's done the hard work so we don't have to. A Once-style production with musicians as cast members would be something very special.


Kate Bush

Anyone who saw Before The Dawn knows that Queen Kate is all about narrative and impressive production values, so a stage show seems the next logical step. And if there's a more musical theatre-ready song than There Goes a Tenner I'm yet to hear it.


From Stay to I Wanna Be The Only One, Eternal have a great book of songs. Personally I'd like them to take a leaf out of the Jersey Boys book and document the ups and downs and with-or-without-Louise-Redknapps of their 90s pop glory days. On opening night, Esther, Vernie, Kéllé and Louise reunite on stage during the curtain call, just in time for the next series of The Big Reunion.

Pet Shop Boys


The duo achieved sell-out success in 2011 when they teamed up with choreographer Javier De Frutos to create contemporary ballet The Most Incredible Thing. So how about West End Girls: an electro pop musical about a theatrical agent with questionable morals, and the hopeful young starlets on his books.

The Divine Comedy

A postmodern piece comprising of vignettes, each focussing on a different passenger on one National Express coach. There's the woman fleeing her lover having robbed him blind (Something For The Weekend). The disillusioned tabloid journalist covering the latest political scandal (Generation Sex). And the shy driver, who loves the jolly hostess, and maybe by the final curtain he'll have told her (Everybody Knows (Except You)).

Kylie Minogue

From Bubblegum-Pop-Princess to Edgy-Rock-Star-Botherer to Showgirl-Cancer-Survivor to Aphrodite, the life of Australia's pint-sized popstrel is crying out for a disco-powered stage adaptation. But I'm only on board if the stage lights up during Spinning Around