‘Q’ tipped for U.K. run

'Avenue' eyes London bow in Feb.

LONDON — “Avenue Q” is aiming for a UK preem in February at the Theater Royal, Stratford East, with a West End transfer to follow, depending on how this first offshore production of the Tony-winning puppet tuner is received.

If current negotiations pan out, show will be the fourth in a five-production 2005-06 season lineup at the 450-seat venue, currently repped on the West End by the black British musical “The Big Life.”

The expectation is that the American producing and creative team of the hit 2004 show will open at Stratford with a British cast. Cameron Mackintosh has expressed interest in housing the tuner in one of his West End venues, if and when “Avenue Q” makes a commercial leap.

The off-West End opening would allow the musical to build up a head of steam away from the London main stem, rather than opening cold in a venue at least equal in size to its current Broadway berth at the Golden.

“Avenue Q” is one of many current Broadway tuners at varying stages of preparation for a London run. Others include “Wicked,” “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” “Hairspray” and “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.”

Other productions confirmed for the Stratford East schedule include the return of the Rikki Beadle-Blair play “Bashment” for three weeks in October; eight weeks over Christmas of the pantomime “Pinocchio”; and, closing out the season in the spring, the stage preem of the 1972 Jimmy Cliff film musical “The Harder They Come.”

Perry Henzell, the film’s director and co-writer, is handling the stage adaptation, which will retain reggae star Cliff’s best-known songs.

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