Spotlight on musical theatre in Sweden – winter and spring seasons

Attached is a photo from the production of Passion. Photo by Lars Kroon. I'll send a photo from Kinky Boots separately. Photo by Malin Arnesson.

Passion will transfer to the Norrland Opera, opening on 24 February. Picture: Lars Kroon

Renate Stridh throws the spotlight on musical theatre productions featured in the current and upcoming seasons in Sweden.

The winter season in Sweden is well under way. The autumn saw some exciting productions and there are some equally exciting opening nights ahead.

The Book of Mormon

The Book of Mormon opened at the end of January at China Teatern in Stockholm. This means that Swedish is going to be the first non-English language to experience the show in.

Seasoned pro Linus Wahlgren (Price), comedian Per Andersson (Cunningham) and Norwegian musical theatre actress Samantha Gurah (Nabalungi) lead the troops in bringing musical theatre salvation to the Stockholm audiences.

This is only the beginning of the show’s Scandinavian invasion: a Norwegian production opens in September 2017 at Det Norske Teatret and a Danish production opens in January 2018.

If/Then

If/Then is another new show receiving its Swedish premiere this winter. It opens on 11 February at Malmö Opera under the title Tänk Om.

Musical theatre actress Linda Olsson will portray Lisa/Betty. Olsson has previously played the title role in Mary Poppins at the Göteborg Opera and the female lead in Top Hat at the Malmö Opera. The translation has been written by Erik Fägerborn and direction by Philip Zandén.

There is little doubt that musical theatre is one of the most expensive art forms around. In smaller countries like Sweden and Norway this is a source of frustration among musical theatre advocates.

Fun Home

But finally one of the theatres that receives funding has decided to complement a big production on the main stage (Billy Elliot) with a new and exciting premiere on one of the smaller stages.

Fun Home opens in April at Stockholm’s Stadsteatern (Stockholm City Theatre). This production follows Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori’s lead with a selection of strong female professionals at the creative reins: translator Ulricha Johnson, director Carolina Frände, musical director Marika Willstedt, choreographer Anna Ståhl, set designer Jenny Kronberg and costume designer Patricia Svajger.

A Kinky Boots. Photo by Malin Arnesson

Kinky Boots has been running at the Malmö Opera. Picture: Malin Arnesson

Kinky Boots

The feel-good Kinky Boots is just about to complete its run at Malmö Opera. The production is a glittering star vehicle for Oscar Pierrou Lindén as Lola. He is a magnificent quadruple threat: heaps of sass in addition to impressive and seamingly effortless singing, dancing and acting.

Singer Andreas Weise is a solid stage partner as Charlie. Direction is by Ronny Danielsson, choreography is by the UK’s Drew McOnie and amazing costume design is by Marcus Olson. Hopefully the production will reappear in Stockholm next season.

Passion

New artistic director Staffan Aspegren offered a long-anticipated Swedish premiere when deciding upon Sondheim’s Passion as this season’s musical at regional theatre Smålands Musik och Teater in Jönköping. A strong cast led by Kalle Malmberg and Annica Edstam tell the story of pain, love, hope and surrender through both heart-wringing music and transparent silence. This production will transfer to the Norrland Opera, opening on 24 February.

And more…

Göta Lejon is one of the Stockholm theatres managed by a ‘private’ producer. In recent years shows staged there have included The Drowsy Chaperone, Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Priscilla Queen of the Desert.

Producers without public funding have come to rely more and more on household names or high-profile shows to attract audiences. This season’s production at Göta Lejon is Bullets Over Broadway – not the most well-known title in this part of the world.

But the production sports an impressive cast of well-known actors, singers and comedians, and if past shows are anything to go by, these producers pride themselves in casting the best (well-known) people for the show. Bullets Over Broadway is currently booking until 8 April.

This season – as always – offers a handful of classics: Göteborgsoperan has moved Hair into a contemporary era with a set depicting a soon-to-be-opened high-end mall. Östgötateatern offers a traditional production of La Cage aux Folles.

Uppsala Stadsteater is a city theatre that produces musical theatre more regularly. In November it premiered Fiddler On the Roof – its largest production to date.

At Wermland Opera Les Misérables is back on the repertoire. This time reinvented by a British team led by director James Grieve and musical director David White.

The Phantom of the Opera had a record-breaking run at Oscarsteatern in Stockholm from 1989 until 1995, playing an unheard of number of performances: 1,173. Twenty-one years later Phantom is back in Stockholm.

Peter Jöback takes on the lead role with Emmi Christensson as Christine. Jöback has already portrayed the masked man of music both on Broadway and in the West End, and Christensson had a recent two-year run as Christine in London. So far this new edition of Phantom has reached performance no. 100, delighting a new generation of audiences.

New musicals opening or old classics being treasured or reinvented – all in all this season in Sweden promises growth for the genre and amazing times for the audiences. And that is always good news to the musical theatre buffs.

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