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ARCHIVE PAGE FOR - Taboo

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The Venue: Previewed 12 January, Opened 29 January 2002, Closed 26 April 2003

Musical by Boy George with book by Mark Davies-Markham. Directed by Christopher Renshaw. Designed by Tim Goodchild. Choreographed by Les Childs. Lighting is by Chris Ellis.

The 1980's; Margaret Thatcher rules politics, riots run through Brixton, Live Aid unites the world, the new romantics, style magazines, designer labels, and the Queen's Silver Jubilee were fresh in the minds of all the Great British Public. Boy George's new musical Taboo brings to life a decadent decade; a vibrant era of colourful dreams, dazzling fashion, and the beginning of pop culture, as we know it today.

Featuring 16 brand new songs alongside classics hits including 'Do You Really Want to Hurt Me' and 'Karma Chameleon' this witty and entertaining new musical takes on the life, times and styles of the innovators who shaped and defined the face of a decade. A love story of passion, ambition and betrayal unfolds alongside the journey of Boy George's rise and fall from international stardom.

This production has received 4 nominations at the 2003 Olivier Awards for 'Best New Musical', 'Best Actor in a Musical or Entertainment' (Euan Morton), 'Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical or Entertainment' (Paul Baker) and 'Best Costume Designer' (Mike Nicholls). The winners will be announced on Friday 14 February 2003. Click here for the full list of nominations...

From 11 November to 26 April 2003: Boy George as 'Leigh Bowery' (except 24 February to 1 March, Fri 7 March 8.00pm, Sat 8 March 3.00pm, Friday 14 March 8.00pm, Sat 15 March 3.00pm and 8.00pm, Sat 22 March 8.00pm, Sat 5 April 8.00pm and Sat 20 April 8.00pm)

From 24 February to 1 March: Julian Clary as 'Leigh Bowery'.

From 18 November 2002: Stephen Ashfield will play the role of 'Boy George', Phil Nichol will play 'Philip Salon' and Mari Wilson will play 'Rosie'. Euan Morton, Paul Baker and Lyn Paul, who currently play these roles leave the cast on 16 November.

Euan Morton returns to reprise his role as 'Boy George' from 3 February to 26 April 2003.

This new musical is being staged at The Venue, a stylishly retro, reclaimed dance hall off Leicester Square in the heart of London's West End.

Mark Davies-Markham wrote the popular cult television series This Life.

News about the show

On 10 January 2002: The first preview performance on Friday 11 January 2002 was cancelled due to 'technical difficulties'.

On 30 January 2002: It was announced that, from Monday 25 February 2002, Monday to Friday evening performances of Taboo will start 15 minutes earlier at 7.45pm.

On 6 February 2002: A new five month booking was announced covering performances from 8 April to 14 September 2002

On 21 February 2002: It was announced that the performances on Fridays 1, 8, and 15 March will be at 7.00pm and 10.30pm

On 25 February 2002: With immediate effect it was announced that the performance schedule will revert to the original times of evening shows at 8.00pm with matines on Saturday at 3.00pm. Two extra 'mid-week' matiness have also been announced (Wednesdays 6 and 13 March at 3.00pm).
From Monday 18 March the performance schedule will change to Monday to Thursdays at 8.00pm, Fridays at 7.00pm and 10.30pm and Saturdays at 3.00pm and 8.00pm.
There will be no performances on Saturday 16 March, Thursday 28 March, Friday 29 March and Saturday 30 March. Details of performances on Tuesday 26 March, Wednesday 27 March and Monday 22 April are still to be announced.

On 4 March 2002: Further performance details where announced: Tuesday 26 March at 3.00pm and 8.00pm, Wednesday 27 March at 7.00pm and 10.30pm and Monday 22 April at 8.00pm

On 2 April 2002: There is a rumour that Boy George may take over the role of 'Leigh Bowry' when Matt Lucas leaves. This HAS NOT been confirmed and is only a rumour.

On 17 April 2002: Following the rumours earlier this month it has now been officially confirmed that Boy George will star in his own musical - Taboo at The Venue - for six weeks from 6 May to 15 June.
Boy George will play the part of 'Leigh Bowery' (currently being played by Matt Lucas). Also joining the cast at the same time will be Lyn Paul who takes over the role of 'Josie'.
From 17 June Mark Little will then take over the role of 'Leigh Bowery'. During this time Euan Morton will continue to play the role of 'Boy George'.
Lyn Paul's previous West End credits include Blood Brothers. Mark Little's previous stage credits include Defending the Caveman (Apollo Theatre 1998/99).

On 19 April 2002: It was announced that there will be a 'Press Night' for the new cast on 22 May 2002 (at 7.00pm) - as previously mentioned, Boy George will play the part of 'Leigh Bowery' and Lyn Paul will play the role of 'Josie' from 6 May.
Due to the cast change a number of performances have been cancelled - there will be no performances from Monday 29 April to Thursday 2 May with only one performance at 8.00pm on Friday 3 May.

On 1 May 2002: Due to licensing problems the producers have had to abandon the late 10.30pm performances on Fridays with immediate effect. From 13 May 2002 there will be evening performancces from Monday to Saturday at 8.00pm with matinees on Wednesdays at 2.30pm and Saturdays at 3.00pm

On 8 May 2002: It was announced that Boy George, who has just taken over the role of Leigh Bowery in the musical Taboo, will not be performing at the Saturday matinee on 11 May 2002. Instead the role will be performed by Adam Longworth.

On 14 May 2002: It was announced that Boy George will not be performing at either the Wednesday or Saturday matinee performances this week (15 and 18 May). Instead the role will be performed by Adam Longworth.

On 16 May 2002: It was announced that, from Saturday 13 July 2002, the Saturday matinee performance will change from 3.00pm to 2.30pm.

On 20 May 2002: It was announced that the matinee on Wednesday 22 May has been cancelled - this is because the new cast, which includes Boy George, will be having their official 'Press Night' that evening.

On 22 May 2002: It was announced that Boy George will not be performing at the Saturday matinee performances on 1 June 2002. Instead the role will be performed by Adam Longworth.

On 27 May 2002: It was announced that Boy George will not be performing at the Thursday 30 or Friday 31 May evening performances. Instead the role of 'Leigh Bowery' will be played by Adam Holdsworth. Ticket exchanges are being offered for those who specifically wish to see Boy George at another performance.

On 17 June 2002: It was announced that, with immediate effect, all Wednesday matinee performances have been cancelled. The show will now play a reduced weekly performance schedule of seven performances a week - Monday to Saturday evenings and Saturday matinees - rather then the more usual eight-a-week.

On 24 June 2002: A new booking period - covering performances from 16 September to 1 March 2003 - was announced. Tickets for these performances are now on sale. From 16 September 2002, Wednesday matinees at 2.30pm are being reinstated.
It was also confirmed that Mark Little will continue in the role of 'Leigh Bowery' up to 3 August, Boy George will then return to play the role from 5 August to 7 September (except 13 to 15 August when Adam Longworth will play the role) after which Julian Clary will play the role from 9 September to 16 November.

On 29 July 2002: Two extra Wednesday matinees on 28 August and 4 September 2002 where announced - Boy George will perform at both these matinees. It was also announced that Boy George will not be appearing on 7 August.

On 19 August 2002: Both performances on Saturday 30 November 2002 have been cancelled.

On 22 August 2002: A new three month booking - covering performances from 3 March to 31 May 2003 - was announced. It was announced that Boy George will not be appearing on August 31, both matinee and evening performances - the role of 'Leigh Bowery' will be played by Adam Longworth at these performances.

On 30 September 2002: It was announced that Boy George will return to play the role of 'Leigh Bowery' again from 11 November 2002 to 1 February 2003 (except 15, 16, 22, 23 November, 7 (eve), 21 (eve), 28, 30, 31 December and 1 January 2003)

On 11 November 2002: A cast change from Monday 18 November 2002 was announced: Stephen Ashfield will play the role of 'Boy George', Phil Nichol will play 'Philip Salon' and Mari Wilson will play 'Rosie'. Euan Morton, Paul Baker and Lyn Paul, who currently play these roles will be leaving the cast on 16 November. As announced last September (see above), Boy George takes over the role of 'Leigh Bowery' for a third time from 11 November, he is due to play the role up to 1 February 2003.

On 16 January 2003: It was announced that Euan Morton will return to reprise his Olivier Award nominated (Best Actor in a Musical or Entertainment) role as 'Boy George' from 3 February to 26 April 2003. It was also announced that Boy George will continue to play the role of 'Leigh Bowery' for a further three months up to 26 April 2003 (except Fri 7 Feb 8.00pm, Sat 8 Feb 3.00pm and 8.00pm, Fri 14 Feb 3.00pm and 8.00pm (to be confirmed), Sat 15 Feb 3.00pm and 8.0pm, Sat 22 Feb 8.00pm, Sat 1 March 3.00pm and 8.00pm, Fri 7 March 8.00pm, Sat 8 March 3.00pm, Friday 14 March 8.00pm, Sat 15 March 3.00pm and 8.00pm, Sat 22 March 8.00pm, Sat 5 April 8.00pm and Sat 20 April 8.00pm)

On 16 January 2003: This production received 4 nominations at the 2003 Olivier Awards for 'Best New Musical', 'Best Actor in a Musical or Entertainment' (Euan Morton), 'Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical or Entertainment' (Paul Baker) and 'Best Costume Designer' (Mike Nicholls). The winners will be announced on Friday 14 February 2003. Click here for the full list of nominations...

On 28 February 2003: A new three month booking - covering performances from 2 June to 30 August 2003 - was announced. Tickets for these performances are now on sale.

On 6 March 2003: Despite announces a new booking period up to the end of August 2003, just last week, it has now been announced that Taboo will close on 12 April 2003 after a run of 15 months.

Christopher Renshaw's West End credits include We Will Rock You (Dominion Theatre 2002) and The King and I (London Palladium 2000).

Extracts from the reviews:

From the second cast 22 May 2002 (revised show) (Featuring Ewan Morton as 'Boy George', Boy George as 'Leigh Bowery' and Lyn Paul as 'Josie')

"...You can understand why George wanted the part; Bowery was the only person who wore more outré outfits than he did. And he gives it loads, notably in the hilarious Ich bin Kunst (I am Art)... The star of this show, though, is still Euan Morton's uncanny performance as George... While Christopher Renshaw's overlong production has sharpened up, its problem is still Mark Davies's anaemic sub-plot as wannabe photographer boy meets punky but nice girl and all ends - via drug dependency and an Aids death - with a happy-clappy finale as George learns to be a calmer chameleon. Taboo certainly doesn't suggest the decadence of the title, rather that it is aimed as a mainstream tourist attraction, like the punks on the King's Road, or as a show for those who want to see their rebellious youth through rose-tinted bi-vocals." The London Evening Standard

"...Boy George has penned the lyrics and music - although not the dog of a plot - for a jaunty evening that relives the New Romantic era and in the process rather agreeably bridges the gap between the tired old West End musical and the pop or rock musical... Bowery resembled a beautiful, exotic slug. Boy George gets the look and flamboyant manner just right, but always sounds too Eltham. Who cares, the New Romantics were always about style over substance... The evening is sufficiently light and witty and so deliciously bitchy and ironic that you cannot help warming to it. It also has a heart, that rather suggests that Boy George was not just a New Romantic, but is a romantic through and through." The Guardian

From original cast (Featuring Ewan Morton as 'Boy George', Matt Lucas as 'Leigh Bowery' and Gemma Craven as 'Josie')

"Taboo or not to boo, that is the inevitable question. And the right answer is: Well, it could have been a whole lot worse. Boy George, using his own rise and fall as a pop icon of the Eighties, has written an enjoyable new musical - with This Life writer Mark Davies - that is also surprisingly conventional... George, impersonated with uncanny accuracy by Euan Morton, is one of the exotic club crowd including Philip Sallon (Paul Baker), the floppy-haired Marilyn (Mark McGee) and Steve Strange (Drew Jaymson). All these performances are excellent, though all are eclipsed by Matt Lucas as the group's focal hero, Leigh Bowery... The small band are superb, with accent on bass and acoustic guitars. One song, Out Of Fashion, is a real winner of shifting harmonics and good lyrics... Christopher Renshaw's production is colourful and well-organised..." The Daily Mail

"...Taboo isn't without it's faults — the main one concerning the plot. It promises a carnival of freaks, a celebration of a clubbing era when transvestite Marilyn, Steve Strange of Visage, Bowery and George cut their freak-teeth. Whenever the freaks are allowed their head on stage, Taboo is the kind of blast you associate with the tail end of a rocket... However, far too much of the plot is taken up with a rather ho-hum straight love story between Billy, a photographer, and Kimberly, a wannabe designer. They fall in love, they fall out again — who cares, when we could be in Bowery's pink-and-blue spotted bathroom, with him singing Touched By The Hand of Cool?... When the freaks come out to play — particularly Lucas as Bowery — you'll be drumming your heels for joy. Just head for the toilets when the breeders start singing their ballads." The Times

"...It's a musical it's impossible to dislike. It is on the side of sexual freedom and spiritual independence, it exudes a touchingly innocent belief in the healing power of fame and the 22 Boy George songs have an instant melodic appeal: they at least put the British musical back in touch with the world of pop. Christopher Renshaw's production also has a certain louche charm and there are good lookalike performances from Euan Morton as George, Mark McGee as the transvestite Marilyn, Matt Lucas as the exhibitionist Bowery and Gemma Craven as Billy's newly liberated mum. The show doesn't tell you much about the New Romantic phenomenon - but it confirms there's still life in old Boy George, otherwise known as rowdy Dowdy." The Guardian

"...Taboo is a genuine breakthrough, and, despite its flaws, deserves to succeed. Unlike Closer to Heaven, the show has heart as well as attitude, and, though Mark Davies's book is riddled with cliches, Boy George's music and lyrics are terrific, blessed with melody, wit and a yearning vulnerability. The action is set in the flamboyant London club scene in which now largely forgotten characters, such as Steve Strange, Leigh Bowery, the micro-pop star Marilyn and Boy George briefly flourished... It's corny, but it is also affecting, largely thanks to Boy George's score, which strikes me as the freshest, most promising debut in British musical theatre since Rice and Lloyd Webber came up with Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Great tunes with strong hooks abound, ranging from power pop to deliciously maudlin teen ballads, and, though George reprises a couple of his biggest hits, the rest of the material is new..." The Daily Telegraph

 
 
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