You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Rod rocks West End

Stewart songbook gets a legit presentation

LONDON — The Rod Stewart songbook is set to rock the West End this fall when “Tonight’s the Night” — scored to Stewart’s back catalog — opens Nov. 6 at the Victoria Palace.

Twenty two Stewart songs will be harnessed to a Ben Elton book, with Elton, the writer-comedian whose West End scripting credits include “The Beautiful Game” and the ongoing “We Will Rock You,” also directing.

Rehearsals begin Aug. 18 at the Royal Shakespeare Company rehearsal rooms, a venue chosen, laughed co-producer Phil McIntyre, “to give (the show) some weight.”

A lunchtime press launch for the show at Joe Allen eatery in Covent Garden found a tanned Stewart, 58, flanked by McIntyre and the singer’s long-time manager, Arnold Stiefel. McIntyre and Stiefel are backing the £4 million ($6.6 million) show, with a further $1.65 million earmarked for marketing.

Four leads from the 36-strong cast belted out such Stewart standards as “Maggie May,” “Sailing” and “Stay With Me.” The company is headed by 33-year-old Canadian performer Tim Howar as the nerdy Stewart, who falls in love with Dianne Pilkington’s Mary. Stewart lookalike Mike McKell, a Londoner, plays Woody, the self-evident Stewart surrogate in the show.

An earlier version of the musical was workshopped a year ago at the Connaught Rooms in Covent Garden, featuring the same principals who appeared at Tuesday’s launch (Hannah Waddingham, Rizzo in the West End’s ongoing revival of “Grease,” among them).

Pop parade

“Tonight’s the Night” is the latest, but unlikely to be the last, such pop anthology to hit the West End. It follows “Mamma Mia!” and “We Will Rock You,” two sellouts drawn from the songs of ABBA and Queen, respectively, as well as the Olivier Award-winning “Our House,” the Madness musical, which has been considerably less successful.

McIntyre is among those behind “We Will Rock You,” which survived largely withering reviews in May 2002, to pay back its $11.14 million costs within a year at the Dominion Theater. Average attendance across the year, McIntyre told Daily Variety, has been near 90%.

Like “Rock You,” which hasn’t been shy about pushing the envelope on West End ticket prices, “Tonight’s the Night” is planning a weekend top ticket of $82.50 — reasonable by Broadway standards, perhaps, but pricey for London. The Victoria Palace seats only 1,550, whereas the Dominion, home to “Rock You,” can hold 2,100.

McIntyre was keen to place the relatively dear ducat in context. “We’re trying to catch up with Broadway,” he said.

Stewart’s last album, “It Had to Be You,” has sold more than 3 million units. The followup, “The Great American Songbook, Part 2,” is set to be released in the U.K. by BMG and the U.S. by J Records in late October, just in time for the previews, which begin Oct. 15.

More Music

  • Peter Bjorn and John -Björn Yttling

    As Peter Björn & John Celebrates 20 Years, the Band Returns to its 'Darker' Roots

    A trifecta of pure energy hit the stage at the Teragram Ballroom in Downtown Los Angeles Saturday night as Peter Björn & John performed the second-to-last stop of a 2018 tour. Promoting their new album “Darker Days,” which dropped October 19, the band went back to basics as a three-piece for this outing (drummer John [...]

  • Adam Levine Cardi B

    Maroon 5 and How the Super Bowl Halftime Show Became Music's Least Wanted Gig

    Who would have thought that the Super Bowl Halftime show, an American institution watched by more than 100 million people, would become the least wanted gig in music? But thanks to the ongoing controversy concerning the NFL’s stance on a player’s right to protest, brought to the forefront by football’s top conscientious objector Colin Kaepernick, [...]

  • Mary Poppins 1964

    P.L. Travers' Efforts to Adapt 'Mary Poppins' for Film, TV Were Often Less Than Jolly

    Disney’s “Mary Poppins Returns,” a sequel decades in the making, opens Dec. 19. Even before the 1964 original, Hollywood made several attempts to adapt P.L. Travers’ books, with Samuel Goldwyn and Katharine Hepburn among those involved in the chase. But aside from a one-hour 1949 CBS television version, they all hit a dead-end. The first [...]

  • Kanye West

    Kanye West Accuses Drake of 'Threatening' His Family in Epic Twitter Binge

    Kanye West re-ignited his feud with Drake on Thursday night, accusing the rapper of “threatening” his family in a dozens-long Twitter binge on Thursday night. The latest installment of the saga between the former friends — which flared up most dramatically back in May when Pusha T revealed that Drake has a son with model [...]

  • Kacey Musgraves Cardi B Janelle Monae

    The Best Albums of 2018

    Even by recent standards, these are times that try human souls. And not surprisingly, that was reflected in the music of 2018: Whether metaphorically responding to the political realities of America (“Black Panther), mimicking the ADD nature of modern culture (Terra Whack) or simply providing a distraction, however brief, from too much reality (take your [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content