I’ve not produced a top ten of the week since before Christmas (apart from a Top 10 look ahead for 2016 of the shows I’m most looking foward to this year).
Meanwhile, quite a lot has changed since I was last here, not least that my favourite new musical of last year Bend it Like Beckham received its closing notice while I was on holiday in Barbados the week before last. So that has to top my first list of the New Year! Also this week: the Donmar’s sell-out production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses gets a NT Live broadcast, and its your last chance to see Peter Pan Goes Wrong.
MAIN THEATRE OPENINGS OF THE WEEK
- The Oliviers in Concert: The Laurence Olivier Awards turn 40 this year — and in advance of this year’s ceremony on April 3 at the Royal Opera House, a concert is being held at the Royal Festival Hall tonight (January 18) to celebrate the anniversary that is being directed by multiple Olivier winner Maria Friedman. The anniversary year will also see a major exhibition at the V&A that will also subsequently transfer to New York’s Lincoln Center.
- The Mother: Florian Zeller, whose hit play The Father is about to return to the West End next month for another run at the Duke of York’s ahead of a national tour (while a separate production of the play is being staged on Broadway in March), sees the transfer of a companion play The Mother at the Tricycle on Tuesday January 26 with Gina McKee in the title role (picture right). It has also just been announced that yet another play by him, The Truth, will be premiered at the Menier Chocolate Factory in March. Website: http://www.tricycle.co.uk/current-programme-pages/theatre/theatre-programme-main/the-mother/
- Escaped Alone: after the National’s premiere of Caryl Churchill’s Here We Go in November, the Royal Court now has the world premiere of another Churchill play, opening January 28. James Macdonald directs a cast that comprises Linda Bassett and Deborah Findlay (two of my favourite actors), Kika Markham and June Watson. Website: http://www.royalcourttheatre.com/whats-on/escapedalone
MY TOP TEN SHOWS OF THIS WEEK
1) Bend it Like Beckham. My favourite new musical of last year, as I wrote here for The Stage, was the stage version of the 2002 film Bend It Like Beckham, featuring 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/
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 review for The Stage here. Website: http://closetoyoulondon.com/
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 review for The Stage here. Website: http://intheheightslondon.com/
4) 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. It will also be broadcast live to cinemas in the UK and elsewhere in partnership with NT Live this week on Jan. 28. Check out details here on venues it will be screens in: http://ntlive.nationaltheatre.org.uk/productions/ntlout14-les-liaisons-dangereuses
5) Peter Pan Goes Wrong. Last week to see Mischief Theatre’s version of JM Barrie’s story that defiantly insists it is not a pantomime, closing at the Apollo on December 31. But it is a farce — and a riotous one — in which, instead of Peter Pan’s traditional declaration that to die would be an awfully big adventure, it is more of an awfully big misadventure. It’s a cliche to say you were crying with laughter, but I really was. See my review for The Stage here. Website: http://www.theplaythatgoeswrong.com/peter-pan-goes-wrong
6) 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/
7) 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/
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. See my review for The Stage here. Website: http://southwarkplayhouse.co.uk/the-large/grey-gardens/
9) Hangmen. 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
10) 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