Americans will be delighted that the 53rd state is sending an award-winning West End musical to New York to lighten the mood. After all, nothing beats news of an upcoming, fast-moving, razzmatazz-rich musical entertainment when you’re trying to take your mind off impending Armageddon.
The entertainment in question is Boy George’s big Brit-hit TABOO, which has been packing in the punters and eliciting high praise from the press for well over a year at London’s previously long-secret subterranean space, THE VENUE.
The show is Broadway bound. It hits the 1,000-seat Plymouth Theatre on West 45th Street, in October. Boy George himself will be strutting the stage, as will a selection of queer folk from the early ‘80s, which could unsettle more conservative Americans. Since this is the town that spawned Studio 54 (and its legendary appetite for sexual excess), it’s more likely that it will be embraced as a welcome return to the good old days.
Back in the UK, it’s a case of hurry, hurry, hurry: the show shuts up shop on April 12th, and then ships out, shock, cock and blue joking mammals (well, you find something more apposite that rhymes with “barrels”) in preparation for August rehearsals, October previews and – undoubtedly – an opening night of unbridled American acclaim in early November.
But there’s some hope for patient English folk who can’t scrape together the necessary £3K for a weekend return to the Big Apple on Concorde. In December, TABOO will also start touring in the UK, so the people of the shires will have a chance to experience the inside story on the bizarre multi-sexual culture of a bygone era.
For those who really need reminding, and for those members of the US press yet to get the drift, here it comes, one more time: TABOO is an ingeniously crafted musical picture of the life, times, styles and stories of the innovators who shaped the fate and the face of pop in the 80s. This was a gloriously self-indulgent era in which fashion, art, commercial forces and sexual politics clashed against a backdrop or riots, mass unemployment, social upheaval and insecurity. Disturbed days, peopled by some disturbed characters. (Remember Margaret Thatcher?)
Reviewing TABOO in The Guardian, Lyn Gardner concluded “Boy George gets the look and flamboyant manner just right”, and Michael Billington described it as “impossible to dislike”. It’s “a spine-tingler” (The Sunday Times) and “a genuine breakthrough for the musical” (The Daily Telegraph). It “promises to be a carnival of freaks and it doesn’t disappoint” (The Times), and of course it had to be said – “By george, Boy George has done it!” (The Daily Telegraph).
So, to Taboo, all the very best wishes for a long and happy sojourn in the states.
*** TABOO ***
at THE VENUE, LEICESTER PLACE, OFF LEICESTER SQUARE
Monday – Saturday 8pm
Wednesday & Saturday matinee 2.30pm
BOX OFFICE TEL : 0870 899 3335
Tickets from £25-£40
Last performance 12 April 2003
Special thanks to Dee McCourt for this article.