London Theatre News - June 2017

Audra McDonald in Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill: "An astonishing performance"

Lonny Price's production of Lanie Robertson's play with songs Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill opened at the Wyndham's Theatre on Tuesday 27 June 2017 starring multi-Tony Award-winner Audra McDonald as the legendary jazz singer Billie Holiday.
Set in a small bar in Philadelphia late one night in 1959, where, a few months before her death, Billie Holiday is performing a concert, this play sees Audra McDonald sing a number of songs made famous by Holiday including 'God Bless the Child'.
When this production opened Neil Norman in the Daily Express praised how "from the moment Billie Holiday starts singing, chills run down your spine. Audra McDonald does not so much impersonate Holiday as act as a medium for her spirit... She embodies Holiday to the life. It may not be a great play but it is an astonishing performance" while Fiona Mountford in the London Evening Standard highlighted that "Audra McDonald gives a powerhouse performance as an ailing but still proud Billie Holiday... the timeless magnetism of Billie Holiday is imagined afresh by McDonald".
Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill plays for a strictly limited two month season up to Saturday 9 September 2016.

Bat Out of Hell: "gets the blazing operatic treatment it undoubtedly deserves"

Jay Scheib's stage production of the Jim Steinman and Meat Loaf musical Bat Out Of Hell opened at the London Coliseum on Tuesday 20 June 2017.
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.
When it opened Henry Hitchings in the London Evening Standard noted that "forty years on from its release, Meat Loaf's most famous album gets the blazing operatic treatment it undoubtedly deserves... The script may be thin, but the songs are never less than bombastic," while in the Financial Times Ian Shuttleworth described how "Jim Steinman has long been the Wagner of rock'n'roll, and now at last he presents his Ring in the way it always cried out to be seen, in a proper opera house and everything. Such is his way with his material that it already, right out of the box, feels like a classic... Even for those of us who aren't devotees, it's thrilling."
Bat Out of Hell continues at the London Coliseum up to Saturday 22 August 2017.

'Fluent and lavish' Evita returns 2 August 2017

Following a limited season in the West End three years ago, Bob Tomson and Bill Kenwright's revival of the Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice musical Evita returns to the West End this summer - opening at London's Phoenix Theatre on 2 August 2017, following public previews from 28 July.
The dramatic story of Eva Peron, the second and most famous wife of the Argentine dictator Juan Peron - the most powerful and famous woman Latin America had ever seen. She won international acclaim and adoration from her own people as a champion of the poor, whilst glamour, power and greed made her the world's first major political celebrity.
This production comes into London following a major UK regionl tour and the cast features Emma Hatton as 'Eva' along with Gian Marco Schiaretti as 'Che'.
When this production was previously seen in London in 2014 it was praised by Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph as being "fluently and lavishly co-directed here by Bob Tomson and Bill Kenwright," while Michael Billington in the Guardian siad that it was a "highly skilled revival of the 1978 Andrew Lloyd Webber-Tim Rice show," that "boasts one of Lloyd Webber's best, most tightly composed scores."
Evita will play a limited eleven week season at the Phoenix Theatre up to Saturday 14 October 2017.

'Funny & outrageous': Everybody's Talking About Jamie transfers to West End 22 Nov 2017

Following a sold-out run at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre earlier this year, it has now been officially confirmed that the new musical Everybody's Talking About Jamie will transfer to London's West End - opening at the Apollo Theatre on Wednesday 22 November 2017, following public previews from Monday 6 November.
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.
Written by Tom MacRae with song by Dan Gillespie Sells, the musical is based on a BBC television documentary about a boy called Jamie, who became a drag queen at 16. For the West End transfer John McCrea will be reprising his perforamance in the title role of 'Jamie'.
When this production was originally seen in Sheffield in February 2017, Ann Treneman in the Times highlighted how "John McCrea gives a career-making performance... There is the odd lapse in pace but there is also lots of fun... This show has the tingle." Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph described it as being a "funny, outrageous, touching, but oh-my-word PC flag-waving show... The show sends you out on a feelgood bubble of happiness. Think about it too much, though, and the bubble gets pricked." and in the Guardian Michael Billington explained that "the show is lively and engaging but, like its transvestite hero, demands a fair amount of padding."
Everybody's Talking About Jamie is currently booking for a five month run up to Saturday 21 April 2018.

Juliet Stevenson and Lia Williams in Mary Stuart - transfers to West End 25 January 2018

Following an acclaimed sold-out run at North London's Almeida Theatre earlier this year, it has now been officially confirmed Robert Icke's new production of Friedrich Schiller's Mary Stuart, starring Juliet Stevenson and Lia Williams, will transfer to London's West End - opening at the Duke of York's Theatre on Thursday 25 January 2018, following public previews from Saturday 13 January.
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 North London's Almeida Theatre in December 2016, Sam Marlowe in the Times hailed "Robert Icke's nerve-shreddingly intense new version of this 1800 Friedrich Schiller classic... it's fascinating theatre ó fiercely pertinent, exhilaratingly potent" and Neil Norman in the Daily Express praised "the superb performances from both actresses and the ensemble around them. The concluding costume change is an extraordinarily potent coup de thť‚tre."
Mary Stuart will play for a limited season up to Saturday 31 March 2018.

'Robert Icke's production of Hamlet is an amazing achievement - feels like life not literature'

Following a sold-run and extended season at North London's Almeida Theatre, Robert Icke's acclaimed new production of Shakespeare's Hamlet starring Andrew Scott in the title role, opened at the Harold Pinter Theatre in London's West End on Thursday 15 June 2017.
A young man on the edge. About to be revenged. About to be damned... When this production opened at the West End's Harold Pinter Theatre, Dominic Maxwell in the Times said that "Robert Icke's production is an amazing achievement," explaining that "it feels as if Icke and company have interrogated every utterance here for every last jot of what it really means, then scuffed it up again to ensure it all feels like life not literature... Nobody can nail all of this play's rich contradictions in one go, but Icke and company come thrillingly close here." In the Daily Telegraph Ben Lawrence highlighed that "in this production, previously seen at the Almeida Theatre, Robert Icke has brought theatrical Ronseal to the rotten state of Denmark. By and large, it works magnificently - aided by leading man, Andrew Scott."
Hamlet is scheduled to run at the West End's Harold Pinter Theatre up to Saturday 2 September 2017.

Simon Stephens' Heisenberg: The Uncertainty Principle opens 9 October 2017

Marianne Elliott's West End Premiere of Simon Stephens' play Heisenberg: The Uncertainty Principle opens at London's Wyndham's Theatre on Monday 9 October 2017, following public previews from Tuesday 3 October.
In this uncertain world, who can predict what brings people together? When two strangers meet by chance amidst the bustle of a crowded London train station, their lives are changed forever. Marianne Elliott said she was drawn to this play because "there was something incredibly beautiful about these characters who find each other just by happenstance, and through the course of six scenes, and six weeks, they affect surprising changes in each other and in themselves."
The cast for this two-hander features Anne-Marie Duff and Kenneth Cranham.
Heisenberg: The Uncertainty Principle will play at the Wyndham's Theatre for a three month season up to Saturday 6 January 2018.

The Rat Pack: Live From Las Vegas back in London from 13 December 2017

Mitch Sebastian's musical concert show The Rat Pack: Live From Las Vegas returns to London this Christmas for a special eight week season at the Haymarket Theatre from Wednesday 13 December 2017.
This musical production celebrates the singing talents of three world famous entertainers and performers - Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jnr and Dean Martin - known as The Rat Pack, who all received critical acclaim in the late 50s and early 60s when they stormed the world and stayed at the top making classics of such songs as The Lady is a Tramp; Mr Bojangles; Thatís Amore; Iíve Got You Under My Skin; What Kind of fool Am I; Volare; and My Way.
Since 2003, this production has played three West End seasons totalling a run of just over 3-and-a-half-years.
A special festive production of the show will run from Wednesday 13 December 2017 through to Saturday 6 January 2018 when a number seasonal classics such as Baby it's Cold Outside; Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer; Let it Snow, Let it Snow; White Christmas; and Winter Wonderland will be featured.
The Rat Pack: Live from Las Vegas will run at the Haymarket Theatre up to Saturday 3 February 2018.

Annie: "slickly staged, buoyantly performed, motored by cracking musical set pieces"

Nikolai Foster's revival of the classic musical Annie opened at London's Piccadilly Theatre on Monday 5 June 2017.
Based on the cartoon strip Little Orphan Annie this musical for all the family tells a Depression-era rags-to-riches story of an eleven-year-old orphan who yearns to escape from the orphanage run by the mean-spirited Miss Hannigan. When Daddy Warbucks decides to adopt Annie, her dream comes true! Featuring the classic songs It's The Hard-Knock Life, Easy Street and Tomorrow.
The cast features Miranda Hart - in her West End stage musical debut - as Miss Hannigan.
When this production opened Dominic Maxwell in the Times hailed that it is "slickly staged, buoyantly performed, motored by cracking musical set pieces and an expert mixture of naivety, whimsy and wit," while Neil Norman in the Daily Express praised it as being "bright and brash and thoroughly old-fashioned, with songs you can go home singing." In the Financial Times Sarah Hemming said that "Nikolai Fosterís production is smart, vivacious and boasts eye-catching casting in the shape of television favourite Miranda Hart as the gin-guzzling orphanage boss, Miss Hannigan."
Annie the Musical is currently taking bookings at the Piccadilly Theatre up to Saturday 6 January 2018.

On The Town: "this breezy, joyful navy lark is a helluva lot of fun"

Drew McOnie's revival of the Leonard Bernstein, Betty Comden and Adolph Green dance-musical On The Town opened at London's Open Air Theatre in Regent's Park on Wednesday 31 May 2017.
New York, New York, itís a helluva town! Written in 1944 as an expansion of Leonard Bernstein's jazzy ballet score Fancy Free which he wrote for Jerome Robbins, the story concerns three sailors who are on 24-hour shore leave in New York City and the women they meet along the way - the cast features Danny Mac as one of the sailors, 'Gabey'.
When this production opened Lyn Gardner in the Guardian highlighted that "Drew McOnie's choreography nods to Jerome Robbins' original moves, but it has a freshly minted zing of its own that captures the youthful, glad-to-be-alive exuberance of its protagonists... As everyone sings, New York is 'a helluva town', and this breezy, joyful navy lark is a helluva lot of fun," while Paul Taylor in the i newspaper praised Drew McOnie's "terrific revival, adding that "McOnie's triumphant choreography captures the hectic silliness and brings out the underlying melancholy... 'Helluva town?' Yes, and this deserves to be a helluva hit."
On The Town continues at the Open Air Theatre in Regent's Park up to Saturday 1 July 2017.