The layman’s vision of musical theatre might mostly involve “The Lion King,” “Cats” or people in 1930’s outfits, but the reality of the genre is much darker than that. From “Porgy & Bess” and “Carousel” through to “Sweeney Todd” and “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson,” the form is at its best when it grapples with tougher subjects, and two new projects certainly look to do that.
First up, a new musical is in the works about Irish punk band The Pogues, from the somewhat unlikely source of “The Wire” and “Treme” creator David Simon. Initially announced a few years back, word’s been quiet on the project for a while, but the band’s tin-whistle player and occasional substitute singer Spider Stacy recently talked to the Associated Press (via the Belfast Telegraph), and revealed that Simon, his wife (the crime writer Laura Lippman), and fellow “Wire” veteran George Pelecanos, have reached “the final script stage. It’s been drafted and redrafted, drafted and redrafted countless times.”
Plans are to debut the show on Broadway at some point in the future. We have to say, the story of the Pogues doesn’t immediately strike us as one that demands to be told — they were interesting enough, but not necessarily in a way that sets their tale apart from any other of rock-and-roll excess. That said, if anyone can turn it into something interesting, it’s Simon and his collaborators.
Secondly, Steven Knight, director of “Locke” and showrunner of “Taboo,” has revealed that he’s been approached about a stage musical version of perhaps his best-known work, BBC/Netflix drama “Peaky Blinders.” Telling the story of razor-tipped hat-wearing gangsters in Birmingham in the aftermath of the First World War, Knight’s show (which has gotten better and better as it goes on) doesn’t feel like an obvious fit for musical translation, but Knight says to Deadline that he’s been approached by more than one “Very, very respectable party” about a stage version.
Knight acknowledges that the period could lend itself to “a Les Miz sort of thing” and that “music has always been a factor” in the show — indeed it has, with its striking use of contemporary tracks from the likes of Nick Cave, Arctic Monkeys and The White Stripes. Knight isn’t exactly suggesting it’s imminent — “Never say never,” he tells the trade — but it’s entirely possible. Season 4 of “Peaky Blinders” will arrive in the summer, with Adrien Brody and Aidan Gillen joining the cast.