The musical had a world premiere try-out at the Manchester Opera House, Manchester, England with performances beginning March 28, 2011 and running through May 14, 2011. It was directed by Tony Award-winning director Matthew Warchus, with set and costume design by Rob Howell, choreography by Ashley Wallen, musical supervision and arrangements by Christopher Nightingale, illusions by Paul Kieve, lighting by Hugh Vanstone, sound design by Bobby Aitken and projection design by Jon Driscoll.
Cast members included Richard Fleeshman as Sam Wheat, Caissie Levy as Molly Jensen, Sharon D. Clarke as Oda Mae Brown and Andrew Langtree as Carl Bruner.
West End (2011-12)
Again under the direction of Warchus, the musical began previews at the Piccadilly Theatre in the West End on June 24, 2011. The official opening night gala performance took place on July 19. Reviews for the opening night performance were mixed, although the special effects have been praised by critics for their ingenuity and skill. Beginning January 13, 2012, Mark Evans and Siobhan Dillon took over in the leading roles, allowing time for original cast members Fleeshman and Levy to begin rehearsals for the original Broadway production. Other cast replacements during the run included Craig Stein and Scott Maurice as the Subway Ghost and Ashley Knight as the Hospital Ghost.
On June 15, 2012, after weeks of speculation, it was officially announced that the production would close on October 6, 2012. It closed that day after just over 500 regular performances.
The musical began on Broadway at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre in previews on March 15, 2012, with the official opening on April 23. Directed by Matthew Warchus, original stars Richard Fleeshman and Caissie Levy reprise their roles, with newcomers Da’Vine Joy Randolph (Oda Mae) and Bryce Pinkham (Carl). In preparation for her Broadway debut, Randolph played the role in the West End in December 2011 and January 2012, when regular actress Sharon D. Clarke was on leave.
According to Levy, "[For the Broadway production], emotional moments in the show have been fine-tuned, a line or two has been changed here or there...a couple of songs have been replaced, some characters have been tweaked. All for the better." A new "Overture" was added, and "Ball of Wax" has been replaced by a new, but similar song, "You Gotta Let Go".
The production opened to mixed reviews, although it received three Tony Award nominations. Randolph was nominated for the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical, while Hugh Vanstone won the award for Outstanding Lighting Design. It was announced on July 24, 2012, that the Broadway production will close on August 18, 2012. It closed on that date after 136 regular performances. A national tour of North America for fall 2013 has been confirmed.
UK National Tour (2013)
The first national tour of the U.K. will launch at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff, with previews beginning April 8, 2013. The official opening night is April 10, on a run through April 27. Additional venues include New Wimbledon Theatre, London (30 April–11 May), Edinburgh Playhouse (14 May–1 June), Wolverhampton Grand Theatre (3–15 June), Leeds Grand Theatre (17–29 June) and Southampton Mayflower (28 October–9 November 2013). Casting will be announced in early 2013.