ShentonSTAGE Daily for FRIDAY DECEMBER 23

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Welcome to today’s edition of ShentonSTAGE Daily.

I reported in my newsletter on Monday about cancellations and postponements affecting shows, ranging from the scheduled opening of A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE at the Almeida being pushed back to the middle of January, after star Lydia Wilson was replaced late in the day by Patsy Ferran to more immediate things affecting existing shows.

Just yesterday, the recently opened AS YOU LIKE IT at @sohoplace, HENRY V at The Globe’s Sam Wanamaker, the soon-to-close GET UP! STAND UP! and  HAMILTON were amongst shows that didn’t play their scheduled performances:

The pervasive uncertainty is hardly going to help the West End’s recovery. And with strike action spreading through multiple industries — from health (the current nurses strike has led NHS leaders to tell us to avoid health-risking activities) to transport (I’m having to drive up to London today from West Sussex as I can’t get there by train) — not to mention natural occurring events like the weather (though that, too, is probably human-induced too), we are heading into a Christmas season of massive challenges. That’s what 12-years of Tory (mis)rule has led to.

As with COVID, it doesn’t help anyone to bury one’s head and pretend it isn’t happening. This newsletter is committed to conveying the truth, just as I hope my own career as a critic has been borne out of trying to be as honest with my opinions as possible. Yes, they’re always only MY opinion, and others will have different ones.

I nevertheless would like to wish all readers of this newsletter a happy, contented Christmas.

KEEPING GOING (AND BEING FLEXIBLE)…..

Despite the challenges — and my own individual circumstances have included ongoing back pain despite multiple spinal surgeries — I’ve been determined to keep going, as regular readers will know. This week has been uncommonly busy for me; though I typically only plan of being in London for one overnight stay a week, I’ll have done two overnight stays this week — plus a day trip yesterday, meaning I’ll have seen six shows this week by tonight, even if they’ve not always been the ones I intended to see!

So, for instance, I booked a hotel stay on Tuesday because I thought I was seeing the aforementioned A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, but I ended up at Wimbledon seeing SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS instead, with an all-star musical cast that included Ruthie Henshall, Lee Mead and Brenda Edwards.

And the next day I was due to catch up with MANDELA in a matinee at the Young Vic, but it, too, was cancelled. So I used the opportunity to catch up with DOLLY PARTON’S SMOKY MOUNTAIN CHRISTMAS CAROL, also on the South Bank at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, before seeing ORLANDO (as I’d scheduled) that evening

Then yesterday I saw SONS OF THE PROPHET at Hampstead Theatre, followed by Matthew Bourne’s SLEEPING BEAUTY at Sadler’s Wells.

Some of these I’d not have seen but for the fact that the shows I’d planned to take in had been cancelled.

FUTURE SHOWS IN LONDON AND BEYOND

My regularly updated feature on shows in London, selected regional theatres and on Broadway is here: http://shentonstage.com/theatre-openings-from-w-c-december-19/

This will be updated as and when any announcements are made in the coming weeks, but the next official version will be published on January 9.

See you here next Friday…

If you can’t wait that long, I may also be found on Twitter (for the moment) here: https://twitter.com/ShentonStage/ (though not as regularly on weekends)

This newsletter is taking a Christmas break, though I will be publishing twice before resuming normal service on January 9.

  • Next Friday (December 30) I will publish a feature special on Al Hirschfeld, the legendary New York theatrical caricature artist whose work accompanied New York Times reviews from 1962 to his death, aged 99, in 2003. His work is currently being exhibited at the new Museum of Broadway in New York and has been collected in a new book, THE AMERICAN THEATRE 1962 to 2002, edited by his long-time archivist David Leopold.
  • I will also publish a New Year edition on Monday January 2 that looks back on the theatre year, on and offstage, in 2022, as well as ahead to the year’s highlights (so far announced) in 2023. 

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