Theatre openings and my Top Ten Choices of the Week (w/c Feb15)

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nell-gwynn

This week sees London theatre put black actors and experiences centrestage on consecutive nights. Given the current furore of the all-white nominees list for the Oscars, dosage seek it is refreshing to see that in the theatre, seek at least — notwithstanding such antique attitudes as Trevor Nunn’s casting last year for The War of the Roses at the Rose in Kingston with an all-white cast for reasons, more about he stated, of “historical verisimilitude” — we’re able to reflect a more diverse world.

MAIN THEATRE OPENINGS OF THE WEEK

In London:

  • Red Velvet — Garrick Theatre
    Adrian Lester (pictured above) reprises his role as 19th-century Shakespearean actor Ira Aldridge in Lolita Chakrabarti’s play, first seen at the Tricycle in 2012, and now finally coming to the West End as part of the Branagh Theatre season, opening tonight (February 1) at the Garrick Theatre. Website: http://www.branaghtheatre.com/red-velvet/
  • Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom — National’s Lyttelton Theatre
    Dominic Cooke directs Sharon D Clarke in the title role of August Wilson’s play, returning to the National where it was originally given its British premiere back in 1989, opening in the Lyttelton on February 2. Website: http://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/shows/ma-raineys-black-bottom
  • ralph-fiennesThe Master Builder — Old Vic
    Matthew Warchus directs Ralph Fiennes (pictured right) in the title role of Ibsen’s play, presented in a new version by David Hare, opening on February 3. Also in the cast are Broadway actress Linda Emond, James Dreyfus and Sarah Snook. Website: http://www.oldvictheatre.com/whats-on/2016/themasterbuilder/

MY TOP TEN SHOWS OF THIS WEEK

the-mother-tricycle1) The Mother. While Florian Zeller’s The Father is soon to make a return West End date at the Duke of York’s, his earlier play The Mother is currently to be seen at the Tricycle where Gina McKee plays the title role of a middle-aged woman losing her family. See my review for The Stage here. Website: http://www.tricycle.co.uk/current-programme-pages/theatre/theatre-programme-main/the-mother/
beckham-girls2) Bend it Like Beckham. Last week this show was named the Best Musical of the year in the Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards — which I entirely concur with! It was my favourite new musical of last year, as I wrote here for The Stage. This stage version of the 2002 film Bend It Like Beckham, features the glorious and soaring music of Howard Goodall. It has sadly been announced that it will close on March 5 at the end of the original cast’s contracts, so catch it now — or catch it again, as I intend to, as much as possible in the next few weeks! See my review for The Stage here. Website: http://benditlikebeckhamthemusical.co.uk/

3) 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 review for The Stage here.  Website: http://closetoyoulondon.com/

in-the-heights4) 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 review for The Stage here. Website: http://intheheightslondon.com/

5) Les Liaisons Dangereuses. This grimly gripping portrait of human manipulation and sexual game playing casts a dark spell, superbly played by Janet McTeer and Dominic West, at the Donmar Warehouse. My review for London Theatre Guide is here. Webiste: http://www.donmarwarehouse.com/whats-on/donmar-warehouse/on-now/2015/les-liaisons-dangereuses.

guys-and-dolls-sit-down6) Guys and Dolls. Originally only booking for a limited season at the Savoy before heading off on a U.K tour, the Chichester transfer of the show I consider to be the greatest Broadway musical of all time is now moving to the Phoenix after it ends its run at the Savoy on March 12, to resume performances March 19. A separate company will fulfil the touring obligations. See my review of the Savoy opening for The Stage here. Website: http://www.guysanddollsthemusical.co.uk/

funny-girl7) Funny Girl. The entire run at the Menier (to March 5) is sold out — but it moves to the Savoy next from April 8 (to take over from Guys and Dolls, see above), so book now to see the wonderful Sheridan Smith starring in the first major London revival of Jule Styne’s 1960s musical since its original premiere on Broadway and in the West End featured Barbra Streisand in the title role (as well as in the subsequent film version). Seen my review for The Stage here. My interview with Sheridan Smith for The Stage is here. Website: http://www.funnygirlthemusical.co.uk/
GreyGardens

8) Grey Gardens. The 2006 Broadway musical based on the true story of a reclusive mother and daughter who lived in squalor in an East Hampton mansion and were related to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis receives its London premiere in a  production starring the great Sheila Hancock and Jenna Russell, running to February 6. I’ve just watched the phenomenal 1975 documentary it is based on, and it amplifies the achievement of this show’s creators in making a narrative work out of a defiantly undramatic story.  See my review for The Stage here. Website: http://southwarkplayhouse.co.uk/the-large/grey-gardens/

andy-nyman-hangmen9) Hangmen. Named Best New Play in last week’s Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards, Martin McDonagh’s latest thriller chiller comedy stars David Morrissey and Johnny Flynn, newly joined by Andy Nyman for its West End transfer to Wyndham’s (where it runs to March 5) from the Royal Court. My review of the Royal Court opening for London Theatre Guide is here. My interview with Andy Nyman (pictured above) for The Stage is here. Website: http://www.delfontmackintosh.co.uk/Tickets/Hangmen/Hangmen.asp

homecoming10) The Homecoming. Jamie Lloyd directs an insinuatingly creepy, beautifully acted production of Pinter’s masterpiece about a family battle for possession and control, running at Trafalgar Studios to February 13. The cast features Keith Allen, Gemma Chan, Ron Cook, Gary Kemp, John Macmillan and John Simm.  Website: http://thejamielloydcompany.com/our-shows/the-homecoming

 
This week sees London theatre put black actors and experiences centrestage on consecutive nights. Given the current furore of the all-white nominees list for the Oscars, illness it is refreshing to see that in the theatre, this at least — notwithstanding such antique attitudes as Trevor Nunn’s casting last year for The War of the Roses at the Rose in Kingston with an all-white cast for reasons, he stated, of “historical verisimilitude” — we’re able to see a more diverse world being reflected.

MAIN THEATRE OPENINGS OF THE WEEK

In London:

  • Red Velvet — Garrick Theatre
    Adrian Lester (pictured above) reprises his role as 19th-century Shakespearean actor Ira Aldridge in Lolita Chakrabarti’s play, first seen at the Tricycle in 2012, and now finally coming to the West End as part of the Branagh Theatre season, opening tonight (February 1) at the Garrick Theatre. Website: http://www.branaghtheatre.com/red-velvet/
  • Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom — National’s Lyttelton Theatre
    Dominic Cooke directs Sharon D Clarke in the title role of August Wilson’s play, returning to the National where it was originally given its British premiere back in 1989, opening in the Lyttelton on February 2. Website: http://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/shows/ma-raineys-black-bottom
  • ralph-fiennesThe Master Builder — Old Vic
    Matthew Warchus directs Ralph Fiennes (pictured right) in the title role of Ibsen’s play, presented in a new version by David Hare, opening on February 3. Also in the cast are Broadway actress Linda Emond, James Dreyfus and Sarah Snook. Website: http://www.oldvictheatre.com/whats-on/2016/themasterbuilder/

MY TOP TEN SHOWS OF THIS WEEK

the-mother-tricycle1) The Mother. While Florian Zeller’s The Father is soon to make a return West End date at the Duke of York’s, his earlier play The Mother is currently to be seen at the Tricycle where Gina McKee plays the title role of a middle-aged woman losing her family. See my review for The Stage here. Website: http://www.tricycle.co.uk/current-programme-pages/theatre/theatre-programme-main/the-mother/
beckham-girls2) Bend it Like Beckham. Last week this show was named the Best Musical of the year in the Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards — which I entirely concur with! It was my favourite new musical of last year, as I wrote here for The Stage. This stage version of the 2002 film Bend It Like Beckham, features the glorious and soaring music of Howard Goodall. It has sadly been announced that it will close on March 5 at the end of the original cast’s contracts, so catch it now — or catch it again, as I intend to, as much as possible in the next few weeks! See my review for The Stage here. Website: http://benditlikebeckhamthemusical.co.uk/

3) 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 review for The Stage here.  Website: http://closetoyoulondon.com/

in-the-heights4) 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 review for The Stage here. Website: http://intheheightslondon.com/

5) Les Liaisons Dangereuses. This grimly gripping portrait of human manipulation and sexual game playing casts a dark spell, superbly played by Janet McTeer and Dominic West, at the Donmar Warehouse. My review for London Theatre Guide is here. Webiste: http://www.donmarwarehouse.com/whats-on/donmar-warehouse/on-now/2015/les-liaisons-dangereuses.

guys-and-dolls-sit-down6) Guys and Dolls. Originally only booking for a limited season at the Savoy before heading off on a U.K tour, the Chichester transfer of the show I consider to be the greatest Broadway musical of all time is now moving to the Phoenix after it ends its run at the Savoy on March 12, to resume performances March 19. A separate company will fulfil the touring obligations. See my review of the Savoy opening for The Stage here. Website: http://www.guysanddollsthemusical.co.uk/

funny-girl7) Funny Girl. The entire run at the Menier (to March 5) is sold out — but it moves to the Savoy next from April 8 (to take over from Guys and Dolls, see above), so book now to see the wonderful Sheridan Smith starring in the first major London revival of Jule Styne’s 1960s musical since its original premiere on Broadway and in the West End featured Barbra Streisand in the title role (as well as in the subsequent film version). Seen my review for The Stage here. My interview with Sheridan Smith for The Stage is here. Website: http://www.funnygirlthemusical.co.uk/
GreyGardens

8) Grey Gardens. The 2006 Broadway musical based on the true story of a reclusive mother and daughter who lived in squalor in an East Hampton mansion and were related to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis receives its London premiere in a  production starring the great Sheila Hancock and Jenna Russell, running to February 6. I’ve just watched the phenomenal 1975 documentary it is based on, and it amplifies the achievement of this show’s creators in making a narrative work out of a defiantly undramatic story.  See my review for The Stage here. Website: http://southwarkplayhouse.co.uk/the-large/grey-gardens/

andy-nyman-hangmen9) Hangmen. Named Best New Play in last week’s Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards, Martin McDonagh’s latest thriller chiller comedy stars David Morrissey and Johnny Flynn, newly joined by Andy Nyman for its West End transfer to Wyndham’s (where it runs to March 5) from the Royal Court. My review of the Royal Court opening for London Theatre Guide is here. My interview with Andy Nyman (pictured above) for The Stage is here. Website: http://www.delfontmackintosh.co.uk/Tickets/Hangmen/Hangmen.asp

homecoming10) The Homecoming. Jamie Lloyd directs an insinuatingly creepy, beautifully acted production of Pinter’s masterpiece about a family battle for possession and control, running at Trafalgar Studios to February 13. The cast features Keith Allen, Gemma Chan, Ron Cook, Gary Kemp, John Macmillan and John Simm.  Website: http://thejamielloydcompany.com/our-shows/the-homecoming

 
This week sees London theatre put black actors and experiences centrestage on consecutive nights. Given the current furore of the all-white nominees list for the Oscars, troche it is refreshing to see that in the theatre, case at least — notwithstanding such antique attitudes as Trevor Nunn’s casting last year for The War of the Roses at the Rose in Kingston with an all-white cast for reasons, he stated, of “historical verisimilitude” — we’re able to see a more diverse world being reflected.

MAIN THEATRE OPENINGS OF THE WEEK

In London:

  • Red Velvet — Garrick Theatre
    Adrian Lester (pictured above) reprises his role as 19th-century Shakespearean actor Ira Aldridge in Lolita Chakrabarti’s play, first seen at the Tricycle in 2012, and now finally coming to the West End as part of the Branagh Theatre season, opening tonight (February 1) at the Garrick Theatre. Website: http://www.branaghtheatre.com/red-velvet/
  • Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom — National’s Lyttelton Theatre
    Dominic Cooke directs Sharon D Clarke in the title role of August Wilson’s play, returning to the National where it was originally given its British premiere back in 1989, opening in the Lyttelton on February 2. Website: http://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/shows/ma-raineys-black-bottom
  • ralph-fiennesThe Master Builder — Old Vic
    Matthew Warchus directs Ralph Fiennes (pictured right) in the title role of Ibsen’s play, presented in a new version by David Hare, opening on February 3. Also in the cast are Broadway actress Linda Emond, James Dreyfus and Sarah Snook. Website: http://www.oldvictheatre.com/whats-on/2016/themasterbuilder/

MY TOP TEN SHOWS OF THIS WEEK

the-mother-tricycle1) The Mother. While Florian Zeller’s The Father is soon to make a return West End date at the Duke of York’s, his earlier play The Mother is currently to be seen at the Tricycle where Gina McKee plays the title role of a middle-aged woman losing her family. See my review for The Stage here. Website: http://www.tricycle.co.uk/current-programme-pages/theatre/theatre-programme-main/the-mother/
beckham-girls2) Bend it Like Beckham. Last week this show was named the Best Musical of the year in the Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards — which I entirely concur with! It was my favourite new musical of last year, as I wrote here for The Stage. This stage version of the 2002 film Bend It Like Beckham, features the glorious and soaring music of Howard Goodall. It has sadly been announced that it will close on March 5 at the end of the original cast’s contracts, so catch it now — or catch it again, as I intend to, as much as possible in the next few weeks! See my review for The Stage here. Website: http://benditlikebeckhamthemusical.co.uk/

3) 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 review for The Stage here.  Website: http://closetoyoulondon.com/

in-the-heights4) 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 review for The Stage here. Website: http://intheheightslondon.com/

5) Les Liaisons Dangereuses. This grimly gripping portrait of human manipulation and sexual game playing casts a dark spell, superbly played by Janet McTeer and Dominic West, at the Donmar Warehouse. My review for London Theatre Guide is here. Webiste: http://www.donmarwarehouse.com/whats-on/donmar-warehouse/on-now/2015/les-liaisons-dangereuses.

guys-and-dolls-sit-down6) Guys and Dolls. Originally only booking for a limited season at the Savoy before heading off on a U.K tour, the Chichester transfer of the show I consider to be the greatest Broadway musical of all time is now moving to the Phoenix after it ends its run at the Savoy on March 12, to resume performances March 19. A separate company will fulfil the touring obligations. See my review of the Savoy opening for The Stage here. Website: http://www.guysanddollsthemusical.co.uk/

funny-girl7) Funny Girl. The entire run at the Menier (to March 5) is sold out — but it moves to the Savoy next from April 8 (to take over from Guys and Dolls, see above), so book now to see the wonderful Sheridan Smith starring in the first major London revival of Jule Styne’s 1960s musical since its original premiere on Broadway and in the West End featured Barbra Streisand in the title role (as well as in the subsequent film version). Seen my review for The Stage here. My interview with Sheridan Smith for The Stage is here. Website: http://www.funnygirlthemusical.co.uk/
GreyGardens

8) Grey Gardens. The 2006 Broadway musical based on the true story of a reclusive mother and daughter who lived in squalor in an East Hampton mansion and were related to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis receives its London premiere in a  production starring the great Sheila Hancock and Jenna Russell, running to February 6. I’ve just watched the phenomenal 1975 documentary it is based on, and it amplifies the achievement of this show’s creators in making a narrative work out of a defiantly undramatic story.  See my review for The Stage here. Website: http://southwarkplayhouse.co.uk/the-large/grey-gardens/

andy-nyman-hangmen9) Hangmen. Named Best New Play in last week’s Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards, Martin McDonagh’s latest thriller chiller comedy stars David Morrissey and Johnny Flynn, newly joined by Andy Nyman for its West End transfer to Wyndham’s (where it runs to March 5) from the Royal Court. My review of the Royal Court opening for London Theatre Guide is here. My interview with Andy Nyman (pictured above) for The Stage is here. Website: http://www.delfontmackintosh.co.uk/Tickets/Hangmen/Hangmen.asp

homecoming10) The Homecoming. Jamie Lloyd directs an insinuatingly creepy, beautifully acted production of Pinter’s masterpiece about a family battle for possession and control, running at Trafalgar Studios to February 13. The cast features Keith Allen, Gemma Chan, Ron Cook, Gary Kemp, John Macmillan and John Simm.  Website: http://thejamielloydcompany.com/our-shows/the-homecoming

 
A Broadway comedy and two British created musicals arrive in the West End this week — one from last summer’s season at Bath’s Theatre Royal, look the other after a long stage life of touring regionally and internationally for the last eight years. Will any of them make it to next week’s Top 10 list?

MAIN THEATRE OPENINGS OF THE WEEK

In London:

  • Hand to God. Quick transfer for a Broadway comedy that only closed in New York last month comes to the West End to open at the Vaudeville on February 15 with an all-new British cast that includes Janie Dee, more about Neil Pearson and Harry Melling — and a highly abusive glove puppet. Website: http://handtogod.co.uk/
  • emma-williams-mrs-hendersonMrs Henderson Presents. Transfer from Bath Theatre Royal of a new muscial version of the 2005 British film set backstage and frontstage at the Windmill Theatre, web which offered audiences live, nude (but completely immobile) women. Opening at the Noel Coward Theatre on February 16 with a cast that includes Emma Willimas (pictured left) as one of the showgirls, plus Tracie Bennett in the title role, originally played by Judi Dench in the film. My review of the original production at Bath last summer for The Stage is here. Website: http://www.mrshenderson.co.uk/
  • The War of the Worlds. Stage version of Jeff Wayne’s pop album of the same name that has played regular arena tours around the U.K. and the world for eight years comes to the Dominion, opening on February 17 with a cast led by singer-songwriters Jimmy Nail, Daniel Bedingfield and David Essex/ Website: http://www.dominiontheatre.com/theatre/war-worlds/

MY TOP TEN SHOWS OF THIS WEEK

nell-gwynn1) Nell Gwynn. A ravishing, rambunctious and hilarious new play by Jessica Swale that’s about a love affair both in and of the theatre, revolving around the true story of the 17th century actress who ended up as mistress to KIng Charles II. First seen at Shakespeare’s Globe for a run of just 11 performances last summer, it now gets a West End transfer the Apollo, starring the wonderful Gemma Arterton in the title role of Chris Luscombe’s production.  Shakespeare’s Globe previously also transferred Twelfth Night and Richard III with Mark Rylance to the same theatre. See my review for The Stage here. Website: http://nellgwynn.co.uk/

 

ma_rainey-bw2) Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. The National revisit August Wilson’s early play in his ten-play cycle of American black experience across the last century that they previously presented the UK premiere of back in 1989 to offer a stunning new production in the Lyttelton, starring Sharon D Clarke in the title role. Lucian Msamati, just announced last week to play Salieri in the NT’s new forthcoming production of Amadeus, is extraordinary, too, amongst a superb ensemble that also features Clint Dyer and Giles Terrera. See my review for The Stage here. Website:  http://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/shows/ma-raineys-black-bottom
beckham-girls3) Bend it Like Beckham. This was my favourite new musical of last year, as I wrote here for The Stage. A stage version of the 2002 film Bend It Like Beckham, it features the glorious and soaring music of Howard Goodall, and a wonderful ensemble cast. It closes March 5, but I’m sure this won’t be the last we see of this show. See my review for The Stage here. Website: http://benditlikebeckhamthemusical.co.uk/

4) Uncle Vanya. There isn’t a more up-and-coming director in town than Robert Icke, associate at the Almeida, who last year directed the award-winning Oresteia there that transferred to the West End. Now he does equally revelatory work on Chekhov’s enduring masterpiece, bringing it into the here and now with startling immediacy, and with an astonishing lead performance from Paul Rhys in the title role (actually re-named Uncle Johnny in this version).

5) 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 review for The Stage here. Website: http://intheheightslondon.com/

guys-and-dolls-sit-down6) Guys and Dolls. Originally only booking for a limited season at the Savoy before heading off on a U.K tour, the Chichester transfer of the show I consider to be the greatest Broadway musical of all time is now moving to the Phoenix after it ends its run at the Savoy on March 12, to resume performances March 19. A separate company will fulfil the touring obligations. Jamie Parker, soon to star in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, is wonderful as Sky Masterson, the gambler who depends on Lady Luck but finally strikes it lucky with a mission doll.  See my review of the Savoy opening for The Stage here. Website: http://www.guysanddollsthemusical.co.uk/

funny-girl7) Funny Girl. The entire run at the Menier (to March 5) is sold out — but it moves to the Savoy next from April 8 (to take over from Guys and Dolls, see above), so book now to see the wonderful Sheridan Smith (pictured right) starring in the first major London revival of Jule Styne’s 1960s musical since its original premiere on Broadway and in the West End featured Barbra Streisand in the title role (as well as in the subsequent film version). See my review for The Stage here. My interview with Sheridan Smith for The Stage is here. Website: http://www.funnygirlthemusical.co.uk/

8) The Mother. While Florian Zeller’s The Father is soon to make a welcome return West End date at the Duke of York’s, his earlier play The Mother is currently to be seen at the Tricycle where Gina McKee plays the title role of a middle-aged woman losing her family. See my review for The Stage here. Website: http://www.tricycle.co.uk/current-programme-pages/theatre/theatre-programme-main/the-mother/

andy-nyman-hangmen9) Hangmen. Named Best New Play in last week’s Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards, Martin McDonagh’s latest thriller chiller comedy stars David Morrissey and Johnny Flynn, newly joined by Andy Nyman for its West End transfer to Wyndham’s (where it runs to March 5) from the Royal Court. My review of the Royal Court opening for London Theatre Guide is here. My interview with Andy Nyman (pictured above) for The Stage is here. Website: http://www.delfontmackintosh.co.uk/Tickets/Hangmen/Hangmen.asp

Rabbit-Hole10) Rabbit Hole. David Lindsay-Abaire’s intense, and intensely moving, American drama about dealing with grief won the Pultizer prize for drama in 2008; now it makes its London debut at Hampstead Theatre in a stunningly acted production by Edward Hall that stars Claire Skinner and Tom Goodman-Hill as two bereaved parents dealing with the loss of their four-year-old son in very different ways. My review for The Stage is here. Website: http://www.hampsteadtheatre.com/whats-on/2016/rabbit-hole/