Theatre Openings and My Top Ten Choices of the Week (w/c Dec 7)

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I’m forever being asked, much as my brother who is a vet is asked for fixes for people’s ailing pets, what shows I’d recommend people to see. With that in mind, I’m going to offer a weekly top ten here, as well as a diary of the big openers of the week so you know what reviews to look out for (and I’ll be digesting here every Sunday, as I did here yesterday).


In London:

  • hangmen-imageHangmen: Premiered at the Royal Court in October, Martin McDonagh’s black comedy transfers to Wyndham’s for an extended run, opening tonight (December 7), with David Morrissey and Johnny Flynn newly joined by Andy Nyman, replacing Reece Shearsmith.



  • A Christmas Carol: Jim Broadbent stars as Scrooge in Phelim McDermott’s production of Patrick Barlow’s adaptation, opening on December 9 at the Noel Coward.
  • Peter Pan Goes Wrong: The Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society now has two productions in the West End: joining The Play That Goes Wrong (still at the Duchess) is their show about their attempt to get to Neverland, opening on December 9 at the Apollo.
  • Hapgood: Tom Stoppard’s 1988 espionage thriller gets a rare outing, revived by Howard Davies in a production starring Lisa Dillon that is set to open at Hampstead Theatre on December 9.
  • Damon Albarn and Moira Buffini’s, premiered at the Manchester International Festival in July when I reviewed it for The Stage here, re-opens, in a reportedly revamped and extensively re-cast version, at the National’s Olivier on December 10.

Beyond London:

  • Into the Woods, Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester — Matthew Xia directs Alex Gaumond, Gillian Bevan and David Moorst (who just won this year’s Evening Standard newcomers award) starring Sondheim and Lapine’s new musical, opening on December 9.
  • Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds — James Brining directs Jon Robyns and Tamsin Carroll in an all-new production of the Sherman Brothers musical, prior to a (re-cast) national tour, opening on December 10.

1) beckham-jamalBend it Like Beckham. My favourite new musical of the year — Howard Goodall’s glorious music soars in this stage version of the 2002 film, booking at the Phoenix Theatre to March 5. Jamie Muscato joins the cast from Dec. 14, to replace Jamie Campbell Bower, joining existing principals that include Natalie Dew,Lauren Samuels, Sophie-Louise Dann, Preeya Kalidas, Tony Jayawardena and the indescribably beautiful Jamal Andréas. See my Stage review here. Website:

2) Close to You. Joyful concert revue of Burt Bacharach classics, mashed up and re-made for now, now extended at the Criterion to Feb. 14. See my Stage review here.  Website:

3) In the Heights. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s 2008 Tony winning Broadway musical returns to London in the exhilarating production first seen at Southwark Playhouse last year, and now at the new Olivier-eligible King’s Cross Theatre, where it is currently booking to April 10. See my Stage review here. Website:

4) Derren Brown — Miracle. The amazing Derren Brown with a show that I described in my Stage review here as “truly gobsmacking”. Running at the Palace Theatre to January 16, then resuming regional tour. Website:

Foote5) Mr Foote’s Other Leg.  Simon Russell Beale, Dervla Kirwan and Joseph Millson (pictured left) in Ian Kelly’s marvellous theatrical play, first seen at Hampstead Theatre where I reviewed it for London Theatre Guide here, now transferred to the Haymarket, where it is appropriately partly set, and where it is running to January 23. Website:


6) Farinelli and the King. Mark Rylance stars as the King in the transfer of his wife Claire van Kampen’s play, first seen at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, to the West End’s Duke of York’s. See my interview with Rylance for The Stage here. Website:

Sir Kenneth Branagh in A Winter's Tale. ANL-150112-172107001

7) The Winter’s Tale. Kenneth Branagh leads the opening production of his new theatre company’s year-long residency at the Garrick, running to January 16. Also in the cast are Judi Dench, Michael Pennington, Hadley Fraser, Tom Bateman, John Dagleish, Adam Garcia and Jessie Buckley.  See my Stage review here. Website:

And I’ve not seen these yet, but am dying to:

8) Linda — Penelope Skinner’s new play that opened last week — see reviews digest here. Website:

JohnSimm-Homecoming9) The Homecoming — Jamie Lloyd’s production of Pinter’s play with an all-star cast including Keith Allen, Gary Kemp and John Simm (pictured left). I hate going to the Trafalgar Studios, but I’m going to have to steal myself to see this one.

10) Husbands and Sons — Anne-Marie Duff in an adaptation of DH Lawrence at the National’s Dorfman, directed by Marianne Elliott. Michael Billington didn’t like it, but most others raved.