The show premiered in London's West End at the newly opened Venue Theatre on January 29, 2002. Comedian/talk show host Rosie O'Donnell was so enamoured with it that she decided to finance a Broadway production. After 16 previews, it opened on November 13, 2003 at the Plymouth Theatre where, hampered by mostly scathing reviews, it closed after 100 performances. The cast, directed by Christopher Renshaw, included Boy George (credited under his real name, George O'Dowd), Euan Morton, Dianne Pilkington, Raúl Esparza, Sarah Uriarte Berry, Jeffrey Carlson, and Brooke Elliott. O'Donnell reportedly lost her entire $10 million investment in the project. O'Donnell said in an interview about Leigh Bowery that she will take Taboo back to Broadway in the future.
2012 Brixton production
In September 2012, Director Christopher Renshaw revived the show in a "site specific" form in Brixton Clubhouse in South London. The production was based on the original show with book by Mark Davies, but included several changes to the original storyline.
In this production, Paul Baker revived his Olivier Award winning role of Philip Sallon, and was joined by Samuel Buttery as Leigh Bowery and Niamh Perry as Kim. George was played by newcomer Matthew Rowland, and other roles were played by: Adam Bailey, Owain Williams, Michael Matus, Alistair Brammer, Alex Hammond, Zeph Gould, Jennifer Hepburn, Daniella Bowen, and Katie Kerr was Big Sue.
Most of the songs stayed the same, but Boy George and Kevan Frost penned a brand new song "No need to work so hard" to replace "Independent woman", and the show's finale was "Come on in from the outside", which had previously been part of the Broadway show.
The following characters were added:
Mick Jagger – A rock star trying to gain access to the club "Taboo" - told by Leigh to "Fuck off, fossil"
Lucien Freud – An artist who painted portraits of Leigh Bowery
Since the plot no longer took the company to India, the role of Guru Dazzle was dropped.
The show was such a success that it was extend to run beyond its initial Christmas deadline. This made the show require a cast change, so the second company included: George - Paul Treacy, Marilyn - Jordan Luke Gage, Billy - Alex Jordan Mills, Derek/Petal - Paul Kevin Taylor, Kim - Devon Elise Johnson, Josie - Julia Worsley, Janey - Sarah Goggin, Male Ensemble - Matthew Gent, all joining existing company members in their previous roles.
The production won the 2013 Whatsonstage.com Awards award for BEST OFF WEST-END PRODUCTION
The second company continued its successful run, and eventually closed on Sunday 31 March 2013 after having done 213 performances.