Which famous singers have worked on a West End musical?
Musicians have had great success in producing original scores for a production. From the award-winning Kinky Boots score written by Cyndi Lauper to the incredible musical theatre feats of Elton John, the West End and Broadway have been home to many shows where famous musicians have been an integral part of creating the soundtrack. We take a look at some of the best musicals with music and lyrics written by performers typically found in the music charts.
Famous singers in the West End
Pretty Woman: The Musical
The soundtrack to Pretty Woman: The Musical features an original score, with music and lyrics by Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance. As wealthy businessman and a Hollywood glamourpuss find themselves falling for one another, will their romance blossom?
Songs by Britney Spears, Ellie Goulding, Backstreet Boys and more will all take centre stage in & Juliet, the pop-heavy musical featuring songs written by Max Martin. The brand new musical is inspired by the Shakespeare love story and seeing what would happen if Juliet had never taken her own life. Travelling to Paris with the Nurse, Juliet begins an adventure that sees her find herself in a show that proves when it comes to love, there’s always life after Romeo…
The Lion King
Musical maestro Elton John brought his expertise to three musicals, however the most successful of his is The Lion King, running at the Lyceum Theatre since 1999. Bringing the hit Disney film to the stage, audiences are taken on a trip to the Serengeti where they meet Simba, a young lion. As Simba grows up, he begins his journey to becoming King of the Pride Lands. Featuring the iconic songs “Can You Feel The Love Tonight”, “Circle of Life” and “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King”, the musical currently holds the record as the highest-earning production for stage and film, beating The Phantom of the Opera.
Verdi’s opera was used as a basis for Aida, with music by Elton John and lyrics by Tim Rice. The show was nominated for five Tony Awards, including best original score, however the production never transferred to the West End and has yet to be performed in London. The musical centres around Aida, the princess of Nubia who is taken into slavery. When receiving attention from Radames, captain of the Egyptian army, the pair grow closer together in this harrowing love story. With a powerful soundtrack including the songs “A Step Too Far” and “Written in the Stars”, this musical brings the opera to a musical theatre audience.
Playing at the Victoria Palace from 2005 to 2016, Billy Elliot is another Elton John West End great. The musical brings the story of a ballet-dancing Northern boy to the stage, where he auditions for a coveted place at the Royal Ballet School. Winning best new musical at the Olivier Awards, the production went on to become one of the longest running musicals in the West End. To date, over 100 actors have played the title role, singing the well-known theatre show tune “Electricity”.
Blending folk music with New Orleans jazz, Hadestown brings the ancient Greeks to the West End in a production unlike any other. The musical was brought to life by Anais Mitchell, an American singer-songwriter who has released six albums. Her most successful album is “Hadestown”, a concept album released in 2010. Taking the Ancient Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, Mitchell gave the story a musical spin and the album reached number nine in the US folk charts. The album was then workshopped into a musical, with the first performances in May 2016. The show received its official world premiere in Edmonton, Canada before opening at the National Theatre in November 2018. Hadestown is set to open on Broadway in spring 2019.
Cyndi Lauper was the first female to win the Tony Award for best original score with Kinky Boots. The musical follows the story of Charlie Price, a shoe factory owner who is losing customers. When a drag queen Lola enters the scene, the factory begins to produce “kinky boots” and Charlie and Lola form an unlikely friendship in a world of high heels. The production has rock influences throughout the score, with songs including “Everybody Say Yeah” and “Soul of a Man” entertained West End audiences for the final time in January 2019.
Featuring an original score from Grammy Award-winner Sara Bareilles, Waitress is the first production to be created by an all-female team. With inspiration from the 2007 film of the same name, the musical follows Jenna Hunterson, a small-town waitress who dreams of more. As she learns she is pregnant, she enters a pie-making competition in the hopes of winning a grand prize to start afresh. Nominated for best original score at the Tony Awards, as well as nominations at the Drama Desk Awards, the Waitress soundtrack pulls at heartstrings.
9 to 5
Bringing country music to musical theatre, Dolly Parton composed and provided lyrics for 9 to 5. Premiering on Broadway in 2009, the musical told the story of three colleagues at Consolidated Industries as they dream of ways to kill their “sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot” of a boss. Dolly Parton has toured the globe performing some of her biggest hits including “9 to 5” and “Jolene”. Inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, she also received musical success with this production, receiving a Tony Award nomination for best original score.