London Theatre News

Mary Stuart: "Electric... the play crackles with energy and intensity"

Following an acclaimed sold-out run at North London's Almeida Theatre earlier this year, Robert Icke's new production of Friedrich Schiller's Mary Stuart transferred to the West End's Duke of York's Theatre on Thursday 25 January 2018.
This thrilling play tells the story of Mary Queen of Scots and her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I. Mary has been held prisoner for nineteen years. Will her cousin be seen to sentence her to death? When the two women meet there is an energetic fusion of passionate main plots and counter-plots... Two queens. One in power. One in prison. It's all in the execution.
Both Juliet Stevenson and Lia Williams are reprising their roles from the Almeida Theatre - before the start of each performance they will decide by the toss of a coin which role they will play - either 'Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots' or 'Queen Elizabeth I'.
When this production opened at the Duke of York's Theatre Fiona Mountford in the London Evening Standard hailed this "fluid and thrilling modern-dress adaptation," adding that both Juliet Stevenson and Lia Williams "are outstanding," while Ann Treneman in the Times praised how, "when the two queens meet it becomes electric," and "the play crackles with energy and intensity as the two sides fight it out."
Mary Stuart continues at the Duke of York's Theatre in London up to Saturday 31 March 2018.

Beginning: "Beautifully observed - wise, tender and funny"

Following an acclaimed run at the National Theatre's Dorfman Theatre last year, Polly Findlay's production of David Eldridge's new play Beginning transferred to the West End's Ambassadors Theatre on Tuesday 23 January 2018.
Every story starts somewhere. It's the early hours of the morning and Danny's the last straggler at Laura's party. The flat's 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 for this two-hander features Justine Mitchell and Sam Troughton who are both reprising their roles from the National Theatre staging.
When this production opened at the Ambassadors Theatre in January 2018 Henry Hitchings in the London Evening Standard praised this "beautifully observed portrait of lonely people navigating the awkwardness of lust and longing. It's wise, tender and funny... Justine Mitchell perfectly captures the conflict in Laura", and "as Danny, Sam Troughton has a slightly richer role, and he's superb", while in the Times Chris Bennion explained how "David Eldridge's bruising, painfully real rom-com two-hander takes the everyday and makes it extraordinary."
Beginning continues at the Ambassadors Theatre in London up to Saturday 24 March 2018.

Lady Windermere's Fan: "A roster of excellent performances"

Kathy Burke's revival of Oscar Wilde's comedy Lady Windermere's Fan opened at London's Vaudeville Theatre on Monday 22 January 2018.
On the day of her Birthday Ball the tactless Duchess of Berwick let's slip to Lady Windermere what the whole of London society had been gossiping about for many weeks - that her husband has been calling on the notorious and mysterious Mrs Erlynee - Oscar Wilde combines intrigue and humour in this witty and funny comedy of Victorian manners and morals.
The cast features Jennifer Saunders as 'Duchess of Berwick', Samantha Spiro as 'Mrs Erlynne', Grace Molony as 'Lady Windermere', Joshua James as 'Lord Windermere', Kevin Bishop as 'Lord Darlington'.
When this production opened Ann Treneman in the Times highlighted that "the real star is the play and it has been improved by the director Kathy Burke's skilful editing", adding that Grace Molony "is terrific", Jennifer Saunders is "stonkingly good", and Kevin Bishop is "dashingly funny", with Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail saying that Samantha Spiro is "excellent". Neil Norman in the Daily Express praised how "the youthful cast delivers Oscar Wilde's sparkling dialogue with speed and clarity... Jennifer Saunders' bottled snob is a joy and she is surrounded by a roster of excellent performances".
Lady Windermere's Fan continues at the Vaudeville Theatre in London up to Saturday 7 April 2018.

Jason Gardiner and Tracie Bennett in Ruthless! the Musical - opens 27 March 2018

Richard Fitch's production of the comedy spoof Ruthless the Musical will open at London's Arts Theatre on Tuesday 27 March 2018, following public previews from Friday 16 March.
The beautiful and talented 8 year old Tina Denmark has a thirst for stardom and is desperate to land the lead role in her school play... and she's willing to go to any lengths to undercut the competition...
This comedy musical spoofs such classic Broadway shows as Gypsy and Mame alongside classic Hollywood films like All About Eve. The cast for this production stars Jason Gardiner, Tracie Bennett and Harriet Thorpe.
Ruthless the Musical is scheduled to play a three month season up to Saturday 23 June 2018.

The Birthday Party: "A superlative revival"

Ian Rickson's revival of Harold Pinter's The Birthday Party opened at London's Harold Pinter Theatre on Thursday 18 January 2018.
Stanley lodges in the seaside boarding house owned by Meg and Petey Boles. One day his peaceful existance is threatened by the arrival of mysterious strangers Goldberg and McCann who organise a birthday party - except Stanley insists it is not his birthday...
The cast features Toby Jones as 'Stanley', Zoë Wanamaker and Peter Wight as 'Meg' and 'Petey', Stephen Mangan and Tom Vaughan-Lawlor 'Goldberg' and 'McCann' with Pearl Mackie as 'Lulu'.
When this production opened Michael Billington in the Guardian praised how "Ian Rickson’s starry production... does rich justice to this strange, elusive play, and it is packed with illuminating detail," while Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph highlighted that "the beauty of Ian Rickson's superlative revival is that it powerfully makes the case for the play's since-gilded status and confirms afresh that it's a darkly comic masterpiece without trying overtly to spruce it up for today's audiences."
The Birthday Party continues at the Harold Pinter Theatre in London up to Saturday 14 April 2018.

Moliere's Tartuffe - updated by Christopher Hampton - opens 29 May 2018

It has been announced that Moliere's classic comedy Tartuffe - in a newly updated, and dual-language, version by Christopher Hampton - will open at London's Haymarket Theatre on Tuesday 29 July 218, following public previews from 25 May.
Originally written by Moliere in 1664, Christopher Hampton has updated the comedy and set it in modern day Hollywood.
L.A. Present day. French media tycoon Orgon has re-located to Tinseltown with his family, his heart set on becoming Hollywood royalty. With a new studio to his name, and a palatial Beverly Hills mansion, his empire seems infallible. But all is not as it seems as Orgon falls under the seductive spell of Tartuffe, a radical American evangelist. So comprehensively has Tartuffe hoodwinked Orgon that he looks set to steal his fortune, drive away his son, seduce his wife and marry his daughter.
This will be a 'dual-language' production, performed in both English and French, with surtitles throughout the performance.
Tartuffe is scheduled to play a nine-week season up to Saturday 28 July 2018.

Tony Award-Winning 'Best Revival' - The King and I - doubles London season

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, which was originally scheduled to play a limited five week West End season, has now had the season doubled to ten weeks.
The production, which opens at the London Palladium on Tuesday 3 July 2018, following public previews from Thursday 21 June, will now play up to Saturday 8 September 2018.
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.
This production won four Tony Awards when it was seen on Broadway, including for Best Revival of a Musical; Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical for Kelli O'Hara; Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical for Ruthie Ann Miles; and Best Costume Design of a Musical for Catherine Zuber.
The cast in London will star Kelli O'Hara as 'Anna Leonowens' and Tony and Oscar nominee Ken Watanabe as the 'King of Siam' along with Ruthie Ann Miles as 'Lady Thiang' - who are both reprising their starring roles from the New York Broadway production.
The King and I is scheduled to play a limited ten week season at the London Palladium up to Saturday 8 September 2018.

"Enormously enjoyable" Everybody's Talking About Jamie extends five months

Jonathan Butterell production of Dan Gillespie Sells and Tom MacRae's new musical Everybody's Talking About Jamie, which was expected to play a limited five month season at the Apollo Theatre up to 21 April 2018 - has now been extended by five months, up to Saturday 6 October 2018.
Jamie New is sixteen. He’s from Sheffield. And he has a secret. He doesn’t quite fit in at school. His Dad’s left home. He’s about to sit his GCSEs. The future is terrifying. But Jamie is going to be a sensation. Jamie want to be a drag queen...
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 6 October 2018.

"Deliciously strange" The Grinning Man extends two months to 14 April 2018

Tom Morris' production of the new musical The Grinning Man, which was initially expected to run in London for two months, has now had it's run doubled, and will now run up to Saturday 14 April 2018.
Following a run in Bristol last year, The Grinning Man opened in London's West End at the Trafalgar Studios on Monday 18 December 2018 when Claire Allfree in the Daily Telegraph praised "the show’s magnificent gothic theatricality," Dominic Maxwell in the Times hailed as being a "stunning new British musical," that "demands to be seen as its own deliciously strange thing," and Paul Taylor in the i newspaper explained that "Tom Morris's production unfolds like a fevered and luridly compelling fairy story." Based on Victor Hugo's 1869 novel The Laughing Man, the musical is about a travelling sideshow freak whose face has been carved with a permanent smile.
The Grinning Man is currently booking up to Saturday 14 April 2018 at London's Trafalgar Studio 1.

The Grinning Man: 'Stunning and deliciously strange - a triumph'

Following an acclaimed run in Bristol last, Tom Morris' production of the new musical The Grinning Man opened at London Trafalgar Studios on 18 December 2017.
This new British musical is based on Victor Hugo's 1869 novel The Laughing Man, about a travelling sideshow freak whose face has been carved with a permanent smile.
When this production opened in London Dominic Maxwell in the Times hailed "this stunning new British musical," that "demands to be seen as its own deliciously strange thing... A triumph," while Claire Allfree in the Daily Telegraph praised "the show’s magnificent gothic theatricality," adding that it was "a dark-hearted Christmas treat."
The Grinning Man continues at London's Trafalgar Studio 1 up to Saturday 17 February 2018.

It's back! Chicago The Musical returns to London from 26 March 2018

It has been announced that Walter Bobbie's long-running, award-winning revival of the Kander and Ebb musical Chicago will return to London's West End from Monday 26 March 2018 - this time at the Phoenix Theatre.
A story of murder, greed, corruption, violence, exploitation, adultery, and treachery - all those things we all hold near and dear to our hearts... The kiss-and-tell tale of Roxie Hart, a nightclub dancer who kills her lover; Velma Kelly the glamorous double-murderess vying to keep her press supremacy; and Billy Flynn, the slick lawyer who has the power to keep them from death row and make them in to stars.
This revival production was first seen in London at the Adelphi Theatre in November 1997 before it transferred to the Cambridge Theatre, and then to Garrick Theatre, completing a combined West End run of just under 15 years - the longest running American musical ever to play in London's West End!
Chicago the Musical will play at London's Phoenix Theatre from Monday 26 March up to Saturday 30 June 2018.

Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest opens 2 August 2018

Dominic Dromgoole’s Classic Spring Theatre Company has confirmed that their revival of Oscar Wilde's comedy The Importance Of Being Earnest will open at the Vaudeville Theatre on Thursday 2 August 2018, following public previews from Friday 20 July.
Subtitled 'A trivial comedy for serious people', Oscar Wilde's timeless comedy elegantly lampoons the hypocrisies of Victorian society resulting in a plot that twists and fizzles. Prim-and-proper Jack is in love with the equally prim-and-proper Gwendolyn Fairfax. His friend, Algy, is in love with Cecily Cardew. But both Gwendolyn and Cecily are in love with Ernest. What will the magnificently imposing Lady Bracknell say? And then there's the nanny with a dubious story about a handbag....
Casting and creatives for this revival are still to be announced.
The Importance of Being Earnest will play a twelve-week season at the Vaudeville Theatre in London, up to Saturday 20 October 2018.

Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband opens 3 May 2018

Dominic Dromgoole’s Classic Spring Theatre Company has confirmed that their revival of Oscar Wilde's comedy An Ideal Husband will open at London's Vaudeville Theatre on Thursday 3 May 2018, following public previews from Friday 20 April.
"Sooner or later, we shall all have to pay for what we do... No one should be entirely judged by their past" Sir Robert Chiltern is a successful Government minister, well-off and with a loving wife. All this is threatened when Mrs Cheveley appears in London with damning evidence of a past misdeed. Sir Robert turns for help to his friend Lord Goring, an apparently idle philanderer and the despair of his family. For the next 48 hours all their lives will be turned upside down.
Casting and creatives for this revival are still to be announced.
An Ideal Husband will play an eleven-week season at London's Vaudeville Theatre up to Saturday 14 July 2018.

David Hare's Glyndebourne play - The Moderate Soprano - opens 12 April 2018

Following a sold-out run at North London's Hampstead Theatre in 2015, it has now been announced that Jeremy Herrin's production of David Hare's play The Moderate Soprano will open at the West End's Duke of York's Theatre on Thursday 12 April 2018, following public previews from Thursday 5 April.
The story of the birth of John Christie and Audrey Mildmay's world famous Glyndebourne Opera House, with help from the conductor Fritz Busch, director Carl Ebert and manager Rudolf Bing.
Both Roger Allam and Nancy Carroll will be reprising their roles as 'John Christie' and 'Audrey Mildmay' in this re-designed staging by Bob Crowley.
When it was seen in 2015, Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph described it as being an "entertaining digest of a notable chapter in our national cultural life," that was "sensitively directed by Jeremy Herrin." Paul Taylor in the i newspaper praised how "Roger Allam delivers a stunning performance - killingly funny and achingly sad" and "Nancy Carroll is pitch-perfect as the finally wheelchair-bound Audrey Mildmay."
The Moderate Soprano is scheduled to play a 12-week season at the Duke of York's Theatre up to Saturday 30 June 2018.

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 Graham’s 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.