London Theatre News - April 2015

Dawn French in 30 Million Minutes from 11 November to 5 December 2015

Following a hugely successful sell-out six-month UK tour last year, Dawn French brings her acclaimed solo-stand-up comedy show 30 Million Minutes to London's Vaudeville Theatre opening on Tuesday 17 November 2015, following public previews from Wednesday 11 November, for a strictly limited four week season. In this solo-show, based on her life and career, Dawn takes audiences through the various lessons life has taught her, and the things she knows for sure. - Dawn knows that the clock is ticking and, at '30 Million Minutes' old, or 56 years, she realises that she is over halfway through her life and this show promises to be full of various delights and riches, with the odd irksome tribulation thrown in. When the show was seen on tour Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph hailed Dawn French as being an "enduring, life–affirming phenomenon" and Neil Norman in the Daily Express praised it as being both "energised and engaging." Dawn French: 30 Million Minutes will run up to Saturday 5 December 2015.

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown to close 23 May 2015

It has been announced that the stage musical adaptation of Pedro Almodóvar's Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown at the Playhouse Theatre will close on Saturday 23 May 2015 after a run of 19 weeks. Although it had been originally advertised as playing only for a limited season up to 9 May 2015, the production had just recently announced a three month extension up to 22 August 2015 - but evidently ticket sales for this early summer period had not lived up to the producer's expections, and hence the closure notice. Especially reconceived and re-imagined from the musical's 2010 Broadway staging for the West End stage this production opened in January to generally positive notices: Neil Norman in the Daily Express praised how this "stage version detaches itself from Pedro Almodóvar's 1988 film but it retains the comic delirium and the title's premise... Funny, frantic and vivacious" and Sarah Hemming in the Financial Times commented that the staging "becomes a joyous evening: an affectionate, poignant and defiant tribute to female resilience." Interestingly that original 2010 Broadway production, also directed by Bartlett Sher, had only managed a run of nine weeks - so this West End staging will have had the kudos of running twice as long.

Matthew Warchus announces first three shows as new Artistic Director of the Old Vic Theatre

Matthew Warchus, who has taken over as the new Artisitic Director of the Old Vic Theatre, has announced his first three new productions which will run from September 2015 through to January 2016. The first production will be a new play by Tamsin Oglesby called Future Conditional about the education system. It will be directed by Matthew Warchus and will feature Rob Brydon and a cast of 23 young performers and it will run from 1 September to 3 October 2015. Next will be a revival of Eugene O'Neill The Hairy Ape directed by Richard Jones from 17 October to 21 November 2015. This will then be followed by the final show of the year, David Greig's stage adaption of the children's book Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax. Running over the Christmas season from 2 December 2015 to 16 January 2016, it promises to blend theatrical invention, songs and zany humour in a show recommended for those aged six and above. Booking for all three shows will open on Tuesday 12 May 2015.

Gypsy announces 19 week extension - 'must close' 28 November 2015

It has been announced that Jonathan Kent's acclaimed revival of the Stephen Sondheim and Jule Styne musical Gypsy at the Savoy Theatre which was expected to close on 18 July 2015, has now had its run extended by 19 weeks - and will now close on Saturday 28 November 2015. The cast features Imelda Staunton as 'Rose' and Lara Pulver as 'Gypsy Rose Louise' in this story based during the dying days of the vaudeville circuit in America. When this production opened last week in London Dominic Maxwell in the Times hailed it as being a "stunning revival" while Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph praised "Jonathan Kent's thrilling account of this Broadway classic [that] offers the unrepeatable chance to witness Imelda Staunton give one of the performances of her career as the manically driven Rose." Gypsy continues up to Saturday 28 November 2015.

Kenneth Branagh in The Entertainer opens 30 August 2016

Rob Ashford's revival of John Osborne's The Entertainer starring Kenneth Branagh opens at the Garrick Theatre on Tuesday 30 August 2016, following public previews from Saturday 20 August. Set against the backdrop of post-war Britain, John Osborne's modern classic conjures the seedy glamour of the old music halls for an explosive examination of public masks and private torment. Presented as part of the Kenneth Branagh's Theatre Company's Plays at the Garrick, the cast features Kenneth Branagh as Archie Rice. The Entertainer will play for a 12 week season up to Saturday 12 November 2016.

Romeo and Juliet starring Lily James and Richard Madden opens 25 May 2016

Kenneth Branagh's new production of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet opens at the Garrick Theatre on Wednesday 25 May 2016, following public previews from Thursday 12 May. Presented as part of the Kenneth Branagh's Theatre Company's Plays at the Garrick, the cast reunites the stars of his live-action film of Cinderella, Kenneth Branagh directs Richard Madden and Lily James who play the title roles in Shakespeare's heartbreaking tale of forbidden love.. Romeo and Juliet will play for a 12 week season up to Saturday 13 August 2016.

Kenneth Branagh and Rob Brydon in The Painkiller opens 17 March 2016

The West End premiere of Sean Foley's English adaptation of Francis Veber's comedy The Painkiller opens at the Garrick Theatre on Thursday 17 March 2016, following public previews from Saturday 5 March. Two men. Two hotel rooms. Brian Dudley's wife has just left him and he decides there is only one escape from his pain. Ralph Smith is a smooth easy going hitman, who is in the business of 'pain removal'. When the two men cross paths through an adjoining door between their two hotel rooms chaos ensues. One of them is a killer. One of them wants to die. What could possibly go wrong? Presented as part of the Kenneth Branagh's Theatre Company's Plays at the Garrick, the cast features Kenneth Branagh and Rob Brydon. The Painkiller will play for a strictly limited season up to Saturday 30 April 2016.

Terence Rattigan's The Harlequinade opens 7 November 2015

Kenneth Branagh and Rob Ashford's revival of Terence Rattigan's 'back-stage' comedy The Harlequinade opens at the Garrick Theatre on Saturday 7 November 2015, following public previews from Saturday 24 October. A classical theatre company attempts to produce The Winter’s Tale and Romeo and Juliet, while the intrigues and dalliances of the company members are accidently revealed with increasingly chaotic and hysterical consequences, particularly the superannuated, theatrical duo who are rehearsing Romeo and Juliet for the umpteenth time and trying to keep real life at a safe, stagy distance. Presented as part of the Kenneth Branagh's Theatre Company's Plays at the Garrick, the cast features Kenneth Branagh and it will run in repertory with Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale. The Harlequinade will play for a strictly limited season up to Wednesday 13 January 2016.

Judi Dench and Kenneth Branagh in The Winter's Tale opens 7 November 2015

Rob Ashford and Kenneth Branagh's 'reimagined' version of Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale starring Judi Dench and Kenneth Branagh will open at the Garrick Theatre on Saturday 7 November 2015, following public previews from Saturday 17 October 2015. Shakespeare's rich tragicomedy is a magical testament to the follies of hasty judgement and the force of love as a means of reconciliation. Presented as part of the Kenneth Branagh's Theatre Company's Plays at the Garrick, the cast will feature Judi Dench as 'Paulina' and Kenneth Branagh as 'Leontes' and will play in repertory with Terrance Rattigan's Harlequinade. The Winter's Tale will play for a strictly limited season of just 52 performances up to Saturday 16 January 2016.

Gypsy: "a stunning revival of one of the greatest Broadway musicals"

After a sell-out run at the Chichester Festival Theatre, Jonathan Kent's acclaimed revival of the Stephen Sondheim and Jule Styne musical Gypsy starring Imelda Staunton opened at London's Savoy Theatre on Wednesday 15 April 2015. The cast features Imelda Staunton as 'Rose' and Lara Pulver as 'Gypsy Rose Louise' who are both reprising their roles in this story based during the dying days of the vaudeville circuit in America. When this production opened in London Dominic Maxwell in the Times hailed it as being a "stunning revival of one of the greatest Broadway musicals" and Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph praised "Jonathan Kent's thrilling account of this Broadway classic [that] offers the unrepeatable chance to witness Imelda Staunton give one of the performances of her career as the manically driven Rose." Gypsy will play for a strictly limited season up to Saturday 18 July 2015.

RSC's Death of a Salesman transfers to London 13 May 2015

Following an acclaimed run at thier base in Stratford-upon-Avon, the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of Gregory Doran's revival of Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman will transfer to London's Noel Coward Theatre on Wednesday 13 May 2015, following previews from Saturday 9 May. After a life of honest hard work, it is salesman Willy Loman's birth right to retire with his loving wife whilst his sons continue his legacy. Yet as old age and retirement approaches Willy struggles to reconcile his long cherished dream with the life he has actually lived. The cast features Antony Sher as 'Willy Loman' and Harriet Walter as his wife 'Linda' who both reprise their roles for this West End transfer. When the production opeend in Stratford Paul Taylor in the Independent praised "Antony Sher's piercing performance [that] pulls off the feat of making you cringe and tearing at your heart simultaneously" and Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph hailed it as being a "superlative revival." Death of a Salesman will play for a strictly limited ten week season up to Saturday 18 July 2015.

Dusty - the multi-media Dustry Springfield musical - opens 3 June 2015

Dusty is a new multi-media musical celebration of the life and music of Dusty Springfield featuring special 3-D technology and digital media along with rare film footage that has only very recently been discovered will open at the Charing Cross Theatre on Wednesday 3 June 2015, following public previews from Monday 25 May 2015. Following the highs and lows of Dusty's rise to fame from middle class suburban London though to the recording of her seminal album Dusty in Memphis, the story is told through the eyes of Nancy Jones, one of Dusty's childhood friends, as well as other key people who featured in her raise to fame. Written by Kim Weild and Duncan Sibbald with direction by Chris Cowey, Dusty will play for a 15 week summer season up to Saturday 22 August 2015.

RSC's Oppenheimer: "staged with theatrical flair"

Following its well received premiere in Stratford, the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of Tom Morton-Smith's new play Oppenheimer, directed by Angus Jackson, transferred to London's West End Vaudeville Theatre on Tuesday 31 March 2015 with John Heffernan reprising his role as 'J Robert Oppenheimer'. Berkeley, California, 1939. The ambitious and charismatic Oppenheimer finds himself uniquely placed to spearhead the largest scientific undertaking in all of human history as he finds himself thrust into a position of power, racing to create a weapon so devastating that it would bring about an end not just to the Second World War, but to all war. When this production transferred to London Fiona Mountford in the London Evening Standard hailed it as being "outstanding" and Kate Bassett in the Times praised how "Angus Jackson's high-energy then quietly mournful production is staged with theatrical flair." Oppenheimer continues for a strictly limited eight week season up to Saturday 23 May 2015.