London Theatre News

Dick Whittington: "Pantomime gold . . . flashy, flamboyant evening is lots of camped-up fun"

Michael Harrison's 'all-star' production of the pantomime Dick Whittington opened at the London Palladium on Wednesday 13 December 2017.
A traditional family pantomine featuring Julian Clary, Elaine Paige, Nigel Havers, Gary Wilmot, Ashley Banjo and Diversity and, in the title role - Charlie Stemp as 'Dick Whittington'.
When this production opened Lyn Gardner in the Guardian exclaimed that the "London Palladium strikes pantomime gold this year with Dick Whittington, which looks as if it has been staged with a budget bigger than the GDP for the UK," adding that Michael Harrison's production is aimed very much at an adult musical theatre audience rather than the family market. The smut outdoes the sparkle... this flashy, flamboyant evening is lots of camped-up fun." In the Daily Telegraph, Claire Allfree described it as being a "gloriously funny, not very family-friendly follow-up to last year's Cinderella... this is an absolute corker of a panto... Michael Harrison's high-gloss production treads that tricky high wire between tightly drilled wit and giddy, improvised chaos."
Dick Whittington continues at the London Palladium up to Sunday 14 January 2018.

Rhys Ifans in A Christmas Carol: "A remarkably powerful performance"

Matthew Warchus' production of Jack Thorne's new stage adapation of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol opened at the Old Vic Theatre on 29 November 2018.
On a bitter Christmas Eve night a cold-hearted miser is visited by four ghosts. Transported to worlds past, present and future, Ebenezer Scrooge witnesses what a lifetime of fear and selfishness has led to and sees with fresh eyes the lonely life he has built for himself. Can Ebenezer be saved before it's too late?
The cast features Rhys Ifans as 'Ebenezer Scrooge' along with John Dagleish as 'Bob Cratchit' and Alex Gaumond as 'Father / Marley'.
When this production opened Ann Treneman in the Times hailed it as being "a gorgeous production... Jack Thorne is responsible for this adaptation and it is traditional but with a modern twist that delights... It's a magical night. Enjoy." Paul Taylor in the i newspaper praised how, in "Matthew Warchus's magnificent staging... Rhys Ifans gives a remarkably powerful performance," adding that "this is both a witty and deeply affecting take on A Christmas Carol. Ifans is excellent at every phase of Scrooge's journey."
A Christmas Carol continues at the Old Vic Theatre in London up to Saturday 20 January 2018.

James Graham's "highly entertaining" play Quiz transfers to London 10 April 2018

It has been confirmed that, following a run at the Chichester Festival Theatre's Minerva Theatre, Daniel Evans' production of James Grahamís new play Quiz will transfer to London's West End, opening at the Noel Coward Theatre on Tuesday 10 April 2018, following public previews from Saturday 31 March.
This new play is a provocative re-examination of the conviction of Charles Ingram, 'the coughing Major', for cheating, following his appearance on television's Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? while providing a celebration of the great tradition of the British quiz show and an analysis of the 21st century's dangerous new attitude to truth and lies.
When this production was seen at Chichester, Michael Billington in the Guardian hailed it as being a "highly entertaining play... James Graham reminds us that we live in a quiz-obsessed culture," while Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph said: "James Graham has hit the jackpot," adding that "Daniel Evans directs with the certain inside knowledge that he has a winner on his hands. Phone a friend and go."
Quiz will play a strictly limited 12-week season at the Noel Coward Theatre in London up to Saturday 16 June 2018.

"Exhilarating" Bat Out of Hell returns to London 19 April 2018

It's Back! Following an extended season in at the London Coliseum in 2017, Jay Scheib's production of Jim Steinman and Meat Loaf's stage musical Bat Out Of Hell returns to London, opening at the Dominion Theatre on Thursday 19 April 2018, following public previews from Monday 2 April.
Join the eternally young Strat and his wild gang, The Lost, as they roam the streets of post-apocalyptic Obsidian, ruled by the tyrannical Falco. When Strat falls in love with Falcoís daughter, Raven, he sets out to rescue her in a full throttle tale of teenage love, youthful rebellion and living the rockĎníroll dream - featuing the hits songs Iíd Do Anything for Love; Paradise by the Dashboard Light; Dead Ringer For Love; Two Out of Three Ain't Bad; and Bat Out of Hell.
When this production was originally seen in London in summer of 2017 - when it won the Evening Standard Award for 'Best Musical' - Ann Treneman in the Times highlighted that "the engine of this is the music which remains epic... it's all revved up, with some place to go. Vroom!" Andrew Johnson in the i Newspaper exclaimed: "Just wow. It's part musical, part gig; it's loud, it's exhilarating and it blows your socks off."
Bat Out of Hell is scheduled to play a four month season at the Dominion Theatre in London up to Saturday 28 July 2018.

Everybody's Talking About Jamie: "Enormously enjoyable" - "A blast of fresh air"

Jonathan Butterell production of Dan Gillespie Sells and Tom MacRae's new musical Everybody's Talking About Jamie opened at the Apollo Theatre in London on 22 November 2017.
Jamie New is sixteen. Heís from Sheffield. And he has a secret. He doesnít quite fit in at school. His Dadís left home. Heís about to sit his GCSEs. The future is terrifying. But Jamie is going to be a sensation.
Based on a 2011 BBC television documentary about a lad called Jamie who wanted to became a drag queen at 16, this production transfers to the West End following an acclaimed run earlier this year at the Sheffield's Crucible Theatre. The cast features John McCrea as the title character, Jamie.
When this production opened in London Neil Norman in the Daily Express praised this "enormously enjoyable show with a serious social riptide," adding that "the dialogue is sharp, waspish and funny and Jonathan Butterell's direction is polished without being too shiny. A palpable hit." Ann Treneman in the Times exclaimed that "this fizzing musical is a blast of fresh air... John McCrea lights up the stage as Jamie, gawky, vulnerable and magnetic... It's the real deal, this one. Everyone really should be talking, singing, shouting about Jamie now."
Everybody's Talking About Jamie continues to play at London Apollo Theatre up to Saturday 21 April 2018.

Aidan Turner in The Lieutenant Of Inishmore opens 4 July 2018

Michael Grandage's revival of Martin McDonagh's dark black comedy The Lieutenant Of Inishmore opens at London's Noel Coward Theatre on Wednesday 4 July 2018, following public previews from Saturday 23 June.
Set in the West of Ireland, Thomas the cat is found dead on a lonely road on Inishmore. Is it an accident or an execution? Whichever, his death must be concealed at all costs from his owner, `Mad' Padraic, when he returns from a stint of torture and chip-shop bombing in Northern Island: he loves his cat more than life itself.
A wicked black comedy on the taboo subjects of Irish paramilitaries, extreme violence, guns and cats, Martin McDonagh's dark black comedy is at once shocking and farcical, yet devastating in its dissection of The Troubles.
The cast features Aidan Turner as 'Padraic', with other cast to be announced.
The Lieutenant Of Inishmore is scheduled to play a two month season at the Noel Coward Theatre in London up to Saturday 8 September 2018.

Alfred Molina as 'Mark Rothko' in Red opens 15 May 2018

Michael Grandage's revival of John Logan's play Red, about the artist 'Mark Rothko', opens at London's Wyndham's Theatre on Tuesday 15 May 2018, following public previews from Friday 4 May.
Under the watchful gaze of his young assistant, and the threatening presence of a new generation of artists, Mark Rothko takes on his greatest challenge yet: to create a definitive work for an extraordinary setting. A moving and compelling account of one of the greatest artists of the 20th century whose struggle to accept his growing riches and praise became his ultimate undoing.
The cast for this 'two-hander' features Alfred Molina as 'Mark Rothko' and Alfred Enoch as his assistant, 'Ken'.
This revival is based on Michael Grandage's own original 2009 Donmar Warehouse production - which also featured Alfred Molina - that transferred to Broadway where it won six Tony Awards including for 'Best Play' and 'Best Direction of a Play'.
Red is scheduled to play a strictly limited two month season at the Wyndham's Theatre in London up to Saturday 28 July 2018.

Glengarry Glen Ross: "A scorching revival . . . Savagely entertaining"

Sam Yates' revival of David Mamet's play Glengarry Glen Ross opened at London's Playhouse Theatre on Thursday 9 November 2017.
Lie, Cheat, Steal... All in a day's work. David Mamet's modern classic is set in an office of cut-throat Chicago salesmen. Pitched in competition against each other, they will do anything, legal or otherwise, to sell the most real estate. In this world of high stakes and hard sell, the mantra is simple: close the deal and you've won a Cadillac; blow the lead and you're f***d.
The cast features Christian Slater along with Robert Glenister, Kris Marshall, Stanley Townsend and Don Warrington.
When this production opened Neil Norman in the Daily Express hailed "this scorching revival," highlighting that "director Sam Yates reins in the play's paranoia which makes it even more effective, as if the characters are deluding themselves as much as their targets. A short, sharp, savagely entertaining night." Sarah Hemming in the Financial Times described how "there's real enjoyment in watching this stellar cast deliver these expletive-ridden speeches with such panache."
Glengarry Glen Ross continues at the Playhouse Theatre up to Saturday 3 February 2018.

Tony Award-Winning 'Best Revival' - The King and I - comes to London from 21 June 2018

It has been announced that Bartlett Sher's acclaimed New York Lincoln Center Theater's revival of the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The King and I will open at the London Palladium on Tuesday 3 July 2018, following public previews from Thursday 21 June.
Set in 1860s Bangkok, the musical tells the story of the unconventional and tempestuous relationship that develops between the King of Siam and Anna, a British schoolteacher whom the modernist King, in an imperialistic world, brings to Siam to teach his many wives and children. Featuring the songs Whistle a Happy Tune; Getting to Know You; and Shall We Dance.
This production comes to London's West End following a season at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre on Broadway where this production won four Tony Awards including for Best Revival of a Musical; Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical for Kelli O'Hara; and Best Costume Design of a Musical for Catherine Zuber.
The cast in London features Kelli O'Hara as 'Anna Leonowens' and Tony and Oscar nominee Ken Watanabe as the 'King of Siam' - who are both reprising their starring roles from the New York Broadway production.
The King and I is scheduled to play a limited five week season at the London Palladium up to Saturday 4 August 2018.

David Eldridge's "gripping, funny and tender" new play Beginning transfers 23 January 2018

Following an acclaimed sold-out run at the National Theatre, it has now been confirmed that Polly Findlay's production of David Eldridge's new play Beginning will transfer to the West End, opening at London's Ambassadors Theatre on Tuesday 23 January 2018, following public previews from Monday 15 January.
Every story starts somewhere. Itís the early hours of the morning and Dannyís the last straggler at Lauraís party. The flatís in a mess. And so are they. One more drink? A tender and funny look at the first fragile moments of risking your heart and taking a chance.
The cast features Justine Mitchell and Sam Troughton who are both reprising their roles from the National Theatre.
When this production opened at the National Theatre Dominic Maxwell in the Times hailed it as being "gripping, funny and tender... a glorious evening," while Paul Taylor in the i newspaper described it as being "a wry, funny and touching meditation on loneliness, that private shame of the singleton. Written with a real depth of insight, humour, compassion and a keen sense of the ridiculous."
Beginning is scheduled to run for a strictly limited ten week season at the Ambassadors Theatre up to Saturday 24 March 2018.

The Exorcist: 'Suspenseful and entertaining'

Sean Mathias' stage production of John Pielmeier's stage adapation of William Peter Blatty's novel The Exorcist opened at London's Phoenix Theatre on Tuesday 31 October 2017.
When the medical profession fails to provide answers to young Reganís strange symptoms, her desperate mother Chris turns to a local priest for help. But before Father Damien can tackle what's before him, he must overcome his own shaken beliefs, as this fight is for more than just one girl's soul...
The cast features Clare Louise Connolly as 'Regan' with Jenny Seagrove as her mother, along with Peter Bowles and Adam Garcia.
When this production opened Henry Hitchings in the London Evening Standard praised "Sean Mathias's suspenseful production," highlighting that "the result is an entertaining 100 minutes, the theatrical equivalent of a haunted fairground ride ó not profoundly disturbing, but attractive to theatregoers who like nothing more than to squirm and scream." In the Times Ann Treneman said: "Shock horror? Try schlock instead," explaining that "on the whole it feels like a Hallowe'en whodunnit with a bit of Catholic hocus pocus thrown in" that "can't decide if it's a parody or the real deal. It may be fun ó but that's not really enough."
The Exorcist continues at the Phoenix Theatre up to Saturday 10 March 2018.