London Theatre News - April 2017

"Enthralling" Kite Runner extends return West End season by four weeks

Following the announcement last month that, after a successful Christmas season, Giles Croft's stage production of Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runnerwould return to London's West End - playing a seven week season at the Playhouse frm Thursday 8 June 2017 - it has now been announced that this return season has been extended by four weeks, up to 26 August 2017.
Afghanistan - a divided country on the verge of war. But for childhood friends, Amir and Hassan, it's a beautiful afternoon in Kabul. The skies are full of the excitement and joy of a kite-flying tournament. But neither boy can foresee what will happen that afternoon - an event that is to shatter both their lives. Their experiences as they grow up reflect the country's tumultuous history, through the Soviet invasion and the rise of the Taliban.
When this production played at the Wyndham's Theatre last year, Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph described it as being "an enthralling tale beautifully told, at once topical and emotionally resonant," while Neil Norman in the Daily Express commented that "the staging is overly simplistic given that kite flying is a metaphor for the quest for freedom in Afghanistan," adding that "it is the story rather than the production that moves you to tears."
The Kite Runner will play an extended eleven week season at the Playhouse Theatre from Thursday 8 June through to Saturday 26 August 2017.

"Lively, sensitive, hard-hitting" Rotterdam opens 22 July 2017

Following acclaimed runs at London's Theatre 503 and the Trafalgar Studios, and in New York, Donnacadh O'Briain award-winning production of Jon Brittain's play Rotterdam will return to London opening at the Arts Theatre on Thursday 2 June 2017, following public previews from Wednesday 21 June.
It's New Year in Rotterdam. Alice wants to come out as a lesbian. Fiona, her girlfriend, wants to start living as a man. Alice now faces a question she never thought she'd ask - does this mean she's straight?
The cast features Anna Martine Freeman, Alice McCarthy, Ed Eales-White and Ellie Morris who reprise their roles in production which won the 2017 Olivier Award for 'Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre.'
When this production was seen at London's Trafalgar Studio 2 in July 2016, Fiona Mountford in the London Evening Standard described it as being a "lively, sensitive, hard-hitting piece about love, gender and sexuality. Jon Brittain handles complex issues with great honesty and thoughtfulness, but also with a refreshing amount of wit... a compelling evening's theatre." Kate Maltby in the Times praised the "two impressive central performances" from Anna Martine and Alice McCarthy.
Rotterdam will play at the Arts Theatre for a strictly limited run of four weeks only up to Saturday 15 July 2017.

Katherine Jenkins and Alfie Boe in Carousel: "A resounding triumph"

Lonny Price's 'semi-stage' revival of the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Carousel opened at the London Coliseum on 11 April 2017.
The story of the love affair between the smooth-talking carousel barker, Billy Bigelow, and a naive young mill worker, Julie Jordan.
The cast features Katherine Jenkins as 'Julie Jordan' and Alfie Boe as 'Billy Bigelow' with Nicholas Lyndhurst as 'Star Keeper/Dr Seldon' and Brenda Edwards as 'Nettie Fowler'.
When this production opened Neil Norman in the Daily Express praised how this revival "delivers in every respect... with an orchestra that stretches literally from wall to wall and striking choreography by Josh Rhodes, this is a resounding triumph," and Paul Taylor in the i Newspaper hailed it as being a "ravishing revival." Sarah Hemming in the Financial Times explained that "it's a mixed ride... though musically ravishing, this fairground ride is emotionally underpowered."
Carousel is playing a strictly limited season only up to Saturday 13 May 2017.

'Gloriously silly & perfectly executed' The Toxic Avenger opens 2 October 2017

Following an acclaimed run at the Southwark Playhouse last year, the cult rock musical The Toxic Avenger will open at London's Arts Theatre on Monday 2 October 2017, following public previews from Thursday 28 September.
Based on the 1984 American superhero comedy horror film by Lloyd Kaufman and Joe Ritter, it's a toxic love story with an environmental twist as Toxie - a seven-foot mutant freak with superhuman strength and a supersized heart to match - trys to save New Jersey, end global warming, win the heart of the prettiest (and blindest!) librarian in town and get home in time for dinner!
When it was seen at the Southwark Playhouse Lucinda Everett in the Daily Telegraph hailed it a being "a gloriously silly, perfectly executed, can't-wipe-the-grin-off triumph," while Sam Marlowe in the Times said it was: "slick, pacy... manic, trashy and sometimes mildly amusing."
The Toxic Avenger will play a strictly limited two month season up to Sunday 3 December 2017.

The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?: "Weird but immensely watchable"

Ian Rickson's revival of Edward Albee's black comic play The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? opened at the West End's Haymarket Theatre on Wednesday 5 April 2017.
In the same week as receiving an international prize, being awarded a lucrative contract and celebrating his 50th Birthday, Martin is forced to confess a secret to his wife and son - a play that questions the boundaries of love.
The cast features Damian Lewis as 'Martin' and Sophie Okonedo as his wife with Archie Madekwe as his son and Jason Hughes as his friend 'Ross'.
When this production opened Neil Norman in the Daily Express noted that "Damien Lewis is terrific," adding that "Ian Rickson’s production is beautifully observed and the absurdity of the plot never overwhelms the essential humanity of the characters, however twisted... Weird but immensely watchable." Paul Taylor in the i Newspaper hailed the "brilliance of Ian Rickson's inspired and superbly acted revival" saying it was "a wildly funny, yet sensitive satire on the limits and limitation of liberal tolerance."
The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? continues at the Haymarket Theatre up to Saturday 24 June 2017.

42nd Street: "mesmerising... classic, sequin-spangled glamour"

Mark Bramble's revival of the classic 'tap-dance' musical 42nd Street at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane on 4 April 2017.
The timeless, inspiring tale of small town Peggy Sawyer's rise from chorus line to Broadway star. Now you can relive the excitement of the classic backstage musical live on stage - featuring the songs We're in the Money, Lullaby of Broadway, Shuffle Off To Buffalo, Keep Young and Beautiful, I Only Have Eyes For You and, of course, the spectacular title number.
The cast features Sheena Easton, Tom Lister and Clare Halse as 'Peggy Sawyer'.
When this production opened Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph praised it as being "extraordinary, spine-tingling... it has tremendous spirit, gorgeous technicolour and there's no let-up from the moment the red velvet curtain rises to the titular finale" and Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail hailed it as being "mesmerising... classic, sequin-spangled glamour."
42nd Street is currently booking up to Saturday 22 July 2017.

Opera North's Kiss Me Kate in London from 20 to 30 June 2018

Opera North present their acclaimed 2015 revival of the classic Cole Porter musical Kiss Me, Kate at the London Coliseum for a strictly season from Wednesday 20 to Saturday 30 June 2018.
This exuberant show-within-a-show throws together gun-toting gangsters, sparring actors and romantic entanglements against a backdrop of a musical production of Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew that includes such classic Cole Porter songs as 'Too Darn Hot'; 'Brush up your Shakespeare'; 'Another Op'nin, Another Show'; 'Why Can't You Behave'; 'Wunderbar'; and 'Always True To You In My Fashion'.
This production, which was originally presented on a two month tour in 2015 by Opera North, is directed by Jo Davies with choreography by Will Tuckett. Casting is yet to be announced. "Jo Davies's production is smartly paced and gimmick-free," highlighted Rupert Christiansen in the Daily Telegraph when this production was originally seen in 2015, adding that "charged up with Will Tuckett's sizzling choreography and performed by an ensemble firing on all cylinders, the big showpiece parades of Another Opening, Another Show and Too Darn Hot duly explode with irresistible energy." Richard Morrison in the Times though it was "an enjoyable but rarely electrifying show."
Kiss Me Kate will play just 12 performances from Wednesday 20 to Saturday 30 June 2018.

"David Tennant is magnificent" as Don Juan In Soho

Patrick Marber's revival of his play Don Juan In Soho opened at London's Wyndham's Theatre on Tuesday 28 March 2017 starring David Tennant in the title role.
Loosely based on Molière's tragicomedy Don Juan, Patrick Marber's modern update transports the action to contemporary London and follows the final adventures of its debauched protagonist - a cruel seducer who lives only for pleasure. The cast also features Adrian Scarborough and Gawn Grainger.
When this production opened Michael Billington in the Guardian highlighted that it is "David Tennant’s performance that gives the play a disturbing ambivalence," and Paul Taylor in the i newspaper said that "David Tennant is magnificent in the title role," but Henry Hitchings in the London Evening Standard complained that "there are too many moments when the play lacks bite and seems crude or even a bit dull."
Don Juan In Soho continues to play at the West End's Wyndham's Theatre up to Saturday 10 June 2017.

Five Guys Named Moe opens 14 September 2017

Clarke Peters' revival of the musical Five Guys Named Moe opens at London's 'pop-up' Marble Arch Theatre on Thursday 14 September 2017, following public previews from Tuesday 29 August.
Nomax's girl has walked out on him and he's got the blues. As he sits in his apartment drinking with the radio playing, suddenly five 'Moes' - Big Moe, Little Moe, No Moe, Eat Moe and Four-Eyed Moe - all appear from out of the radio to tell him about life and women... all to the soundtrack of forties saxophonist and singer Louis Jordan's music.
This production is performed 'in-the-round' in a specially built theatre which will be located next to Marble Arch in central London.
Five Guys Named Moe will play for a limited 12 week season up to Saturday 25 November 2017.

Andrew Scott's "charismatic" Hamlet - transfers to West End 15 June 2017

Following a sold-run and extended season at North London's Almeida Theatre, it has now been offically confirmed that Robert Icke's acclaimed new production of Shakespeare's Hamlet starring Andrew Scott in the title role, will transfer to the West End's Harold Pinter Theatre on Thursday 15 June 2017, following public previews from Friday 9 June.
A young man on the edge. About to be revenged. About to be damned... When this production was seen at the Almedia Theatre in February 2017, Sarah Hemming in the Financial Times hailed "Andrew Scott's charismatic prince," explaining that "Robert Icke's productions bring lucid freshness to well-known texts and in Andrew Scott he has a Hamlet who draws us with him along this painful edge between being and not being." In the London Evening Standard Henry Hitchings said that "Andrew Scott's Hamlet is engaging and accessible, but also strange and dangerous. It's a performance that combines fragility, charm, biting humour and desperation... a career-defining performance."
The cast for the West End transfer also features Juliet Stevenson as 'Gertrude' and Jessica Brown Findlay as 'Ophelia' - who are both reprising their roles from the original Almedia Theatre run.
Hamlet is scheduled to run at the West End's Harold Pinter Theatre up to Saturday 2 September 2017.