So if you've read my review of the Elisabeth musical - it's here if you haven't - then you'll probably remember me saying that I've got a cast in mind for a West End/Broadway transfer. However, before I reveal that cast, I just want to talk about my mixed feelings about an English language production of the show.
It seems very unlikely that Elisabeth will get a West End or Broadway transfer any time soon. Michael Kunze's musical Tanz der Vampire led to the infamous Broadway flop Dance of the Vampires and apparently it's made him very reluctant to allow for any further English-language productions of his shows. Admittedly there was going to be a Broadway adaptation of the Kunze-Levay Rebecca musical which was set to star Sierra Boggess, Tam Mutu and James Barbour. However, the project fell apart due to the investors having financial problems so Sierra and Tam went on to play Fantine and Javert in Les Miserables instead.
Judging from various comments that I've read online, many Elisabeth fans feel that an English-language production of the musical wouldn't work anyway. It's been pointed out that Empress Elisabeth is a far less well-known figure in Britain and America than she is in Austria, Germany and Central Europe. Many Elisabeth fans feel that mass British and American audiences would automatically dismiss the show because they wouldn't understand the historical and cultural references behind it. Now I can see why many Elisabeth fans would think this but hmm... I'm not convinced. Elisabeth was a big hit in Japan after all. It's had some very successful productions of the musical out there. And was Eva Peron really that well-known in the English-speaking world before Evita? There's also the fact that many Americans are absolutely fascinated by European royalty. Maybe I'm being over-optimistic but I think Elisabeth has the potential to do much better in London and New York than many fans think.
That's not to say that I don't have any concerns about a West End/Broadway production of Elisabeth though because I do. There are bound to be people out there who'd dismiss Elisabeth as being an Evita ripoff. And to these people I'd say "Ssh! Elisabeth is better than Evita! It has a far more interesting story!" : D I can also see some West End/Broadway audience members completely missing the point that Death is supposed to be a personification and getting up in arms about the musical, as in "This woman is being tempted to kill herself for a sexy dead guy and being with him would make her happier than being alive!" I can see some people accusing Elisabeth of promoting suicide or some absolute nonsense like that. There are bound to be some people out there who just wouldn't get that Elisabeth's relationship with Der Tod is supposed to be more metaphorical than real. However, my biggest concern about a West End/Broadway production of Elisabeth would be the translated lyrics. The songs from the musical Notre Dame de Paris weren't anywhere near as good as English as they were in French and it killed the show on the West End. I've also heard some very bad fan-made translations of the Elisabeth songs. In my opinion, for Elisabeth to achieve any kind of success on the West End or Broadway, they would need to do an absolutely superb job in translating the lyrics. But if the musical had a really great team behind it who were passionate about the project - and if Michael Kunze and Sylvester Levay were both heavily involved in the production - then I really do think that Elisabeth could be a huge hit in the English-speaking world. Ideally I'd want Cameron Mackintosh to oversee the production, John Caird and Trevor Nunn to co-direct it, and Herbert Kretzmer to re-write the lyrics. Basically I'd want the Les Miserables dream team behind the project! If anyone could pull it off then these people could! I would also love for these actors to play the leading roles:
Elisabeth - Sierra Boggess
The role of Elisabeth would be absolutely perfect for Sierra Boggess! She's a great actress and she's beautiful. Elisabeth is a mezzo role - I don't know her exact range but I think it's similar to Fantine's from Les Miserables for the majority of the time. Sierra Boggess has got a fantastic belt and she was a brilliant Fantine! Also, Elisabeth's character has got the option of a C6 note at the end of Ich Gehör nur Mir. Because Sierra is a soprano and a former Christine she should be able to hit that optional C6 note with ease.
Der Tod/Death - Aaron Tveit
This would be amazing! Tveit definitely looks the part. He's a fantastic singer. Even though his voice is quite different to Máté Kamarás's I still think he'd make a fantastic Der Tod. Tveit's a great actor. He's got the stage presence and charisma for the role. I think he and Sierra Boggess would be really well-matched. Der Tod has even got some very basic similarities to Gabe from Next to Normal. Tveit would be perfect for Der Tod : )
Luigi Lucheni - Ramin Karimloo
I was wavering between Ramin Karimloo and Tam Mutu for this one but ultimately I chose, well you can see who I chose! Ramin Karimloo really would make an amazing Lucheni. With his dark looks he could easily pass for an Italian. He's absolutely got the charisma and stage presence for the role. He's got a rock edge to his voice just like Serkan Kaya has. Also casting Sierra and Ramin in this musical would drive the Erik/Christine shippers bonkers because the Phantom would be killing Christine in this! Mwahaha!
Franz Joseph - Hadley Fraser
I was only going to cast the three major roles for this musical but what the heck! I'm going to cast Hadley Fraser into this! He's awesome and he'd get to work with his best friend Ramin again. Yes having Sierra, Ramin and Hadley in this musical would lead to an endless amount of Elisabeth/Phantom of the Opera comparisons but I can't resist the thought of getting all three of them into another musical. So yeah, if I had my way a Broadway/West End transfer of Elisabeth would be basically the leads of Phantom 25 + Aaron Tveit. Are you feeling the amazing-ness of this? : D