London Theatre News - May 2017

Jim Steinman's Bat Out Of Hell extends two week to 5 August 2017

It has been announced that Jay Scheib's stage production of the Jim Steinman and Meat Loaf musical Bat Out Of Hell - which opens at the London Coliseum on Tuesday 20 June 2017, following public previews from Monday 5 June - has had its limited season extended by two weeks, and will now close on Saturday 5 August 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 Falco’s daughter, Raven, he sets out to rescue her in a full throttle tale of teenage love, youthful rebellion and living the rock‘n’roll dream.
This brand new stage musical features Meat Loaf's greatest hits including I’d 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.
Bat Out Of Hell will play at the London Coliseum for an extended nine week season up to Saturday 5 August 2017.

John Boyega in Woyzeck: "a very fine and distressingly good performance"

Joe Murphy's production of Georg Büchner Woyzeck - in a new version by Jack Thorne - opened at London's Old Vic Theatre on Tuesday 23 June 2017.
Set in 1980s Berlin. The Cold War rages on and the world sits at a crossroads between Capitalism and Communism. On the border between East and West, the young soldier Woyzeck and the love of his life, Marie, are desperately trying to build a better future for their child. But the cost of escaping poverty is high in this searing tale of the people society leaves behind.
The cast features John Boyega as 'Woyzeck' and Sarah Greene as 'Marie' with Ben Batt, Nancy Carroll, Steffan Rhodri and Darrell D'Silva.
When this production opened Ann Treneman in the Times highlighted that "it's a searing experience, watching a man go mad, especially if that man is being played by John Boyega who turns in a very fine and distressingly good performance here in the title role," and in the London Evening Standard Fiona Mountford wrote that "John Boyega and Sarah Greene make a fine central pairing. Impecunious but convincingly happy at the start, their love crumbles under the force of external circumstance... This isn't an easy watch, but it certainly rewards audience effort."
Woyzeck plays for a strictly limited season at London's Old Vic Theatre up to Saturday 24 June 2017.

Gary Barlow's The Girls to close after five month run on 15 July 2017

Although it had just recently opened up booking to the end of September 2017 - it has now been confirmed that the Gary Barlow and Tim Firth stage musical The Girls at London's Phoenix Theatre will close early on Saturday 15 July 2017 after a run of just five months.
A group of extraordinary women, members of a very ordinary Yorkshire Women's Institute or WI, spark a global phenomenon by persuading one another to pose for a charity calendar with a difference! At first glance it should look like your classic WI calendar. Jams, cakes, sewing and all that. Except for one tiny thing... no, the ladies aren't 'naked', they're 'nude'. But as interest mounts they find themselves revealing more about themselves than they'd ever planned.
When the production originally opened in February 2017, Ann Treneman in the Times noted how "this production has a lot going for it. The music is catchy and soulful, the lyrics often hilarious. The story is pure gold," while Fiona Mountford in the London Evening Standard thought that "it's certainly agreeable, but definitely from the cosy rather than groundbreaking school of theatre."
Following its closure in London's West End this production is expected to embark on a major regional tour.
The Girls continues at the Phoenix Theatre up to Saturday 15 July 2017 - the next production at the Aldwych Theatre has not been announced yet.

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical to close 5 August 2017

It has been officially announced that, after a run of two-and-a-half-year, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical will close at London's Aldwych Theatre on Saturday 5 August 2017 - the production had been booking up to Saturday 4 November 2017.
When this production originally opened at the Aldwych Theatre on Wednesday 25 February 2015 Dominic Maxwell in the Times praised it as being a "terrifically tuneful show" and Henry Hitchings in the London Evening Standard described it as being "slick and witty." Michael Billington in the Guardian highlighted that, although "it's good to hear some of the old songs again and to be reminded of groups like the Righteous Brothers and the Shirelles - the attempt to link the songs to the life feels strained" adding that "the show lacks the drama that some of us still hunger for in a musical." Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph thought it was a "stylishly presented, efficiently crafted account of how Carole King went from being one half of a romantic and productive song-writing partnership with Gerry Goffin to a sensation in her own right after they split."
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical continues at the Aldwych Theatre up to Saturday 5 August 2017 - the next production at the Aldwych Theatre has not been announced yet.

Martin Freeman and Sarah Lancashire in Labour of Love opens 25 September 2017

Jeremy Herrin's World Premiere of James Graham's new comedy Labour of Love opens at London's Noel Coward Theatre on Monday 25 September 2017, following public previews from Friday 15 September.
The Labour MP David Lyons cares about modernisation and what he says is 'electability' while his constituency agent, Jean Whittaker, cares about principles and her community. Set in the Labour Party's traditional northern heartlands, away from the Central London 'Westminster Bubble' - the scene is set for a clash of philosophy, culture and class against the backdrop of the past 25 years when the Labour Party has moved on from Neil Kinnock through Tony Blair into Jeremy Corbyn... and beyond?
The cast features Martin Freeman and Sarah Lancashire and is presented in London's West End as a co-production between the Michael Grandage Company and Headlong.
Labour of Love is currently scheduled to play at the Noel Coward Theatre from Friday15 September through to Saturday 2 December 2017.

Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour: "gloriously foul-mouthed and yet angelically tuneful"

Following acclaimed seasons in Edinburgh and London over the last two years, Vicky Featherstone's production of Lee Hall's musical Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour opened at the West End's Duke of York's Theatre on Monday 15 May 2017.
Adapted from Lee Hall from Alan Warner's novel The Sopranos, Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour is the story of six Catholic choir girls from Oban who are let loose in Edinburgh for one day only.
When this production in May 2017 Fiona Mountford in the London Evening Standard hailed it as being "fizzingly vivacious, gloriously foul-mouthed and yet angelically tuneful... joyous," adding that "Vicky Featherstone offers a production of all-round perfect pitch." Ann Treneman in the Times said that "the plot hardly classifies as one: think ladettes on tour with breakout karaoke moments," explaining that "this musical is a series of predictable skits that are embellished by some greatest hits and luscious harmonies... it had its moments but, mostly, it all just seemed a bit dated."
Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour continues to play at the Duke of York's Theatre up to Saturday 2 September 2017.

F Murray Abraham in The Mentor opens 4 July 2017

Following a run at the Theatre Royal Bath's Ustinov Studio earlier this year, Laurence Boswell's production of Daniel Kehlmann's comedy The Mentor - in a translation by Christopher Hampton - will open at the West End's Vaudeville Theatre on Tuesday 4 July 2017, following public previews from Saturday 24 June.
Two egotistical writers who are forced together in a villa in the German countryside. Benjamin Rubin, a cantankerous old writer and whiskey aficionado who is still basking in the reflected glory of a long-ago success, is forced to mentor Martin Wegner, a rising literary star who is hailed as the ‘voice of his generation’. A comedy about art and artists and the legacy of fame.
The cast features F Murray Abraham as 'Benjamin Rubin' and Daniel Weyman as 'Martin Wegner' with Naomi Frederick and Jonathan Cullen - who are all reprising their roles from the Theatre Royal Bath season.
The Mentor is currently scheduled to play a two month season at the Vaudeville Theatre up to Saturday 2 September 2017.

Stockard Channing in Apologia opens 3 August 2017

Jamie Lloyd's production of Alexi Kaye Campbell's play Apologia opens at London's Trafalgar Studios on Thursday 3 August 2017, following public previews from Saturday 29 July.
Kristin Miller is a firebrand liberal matriarch and eminent art historian. But then a birthday gathering that should be a cause for celebration brings cracks in her family relationships to the surface with the recent publication of her memoir which detail a background of left-wing Sixties politics, and European intellectual bohemia, but fails to mention her children. When her son decides to challenge her version of their lives, the cost of her devotion to art and to her principles starts to emerge. A witty, topical and passionate play about generations, secrets, and warring perspectives.
The cast features Stockard Channing as 'Kristin Miller'.
Apologia is scheduled to play at the Trafalgar Studio 1 Theatre from Saturday 29 July through to Saturday 18 November 2017.

Cirque du Soleil's OVO opens 7 January 2018

Cirque du Soleil return to London with their show OVO which will be staged at the Royal Albert Hall from Sunday 7 January 2018.
OVO, meaning 'egg' in Portuguese, is a headlong rush into a colourful ecosystem teeming with life, where insects work, eat, crawl, flutter, play, fight and look for love in a non-stop riot of energy and movement. When a mysterious egg appears in their midst, the insects are awestruck and intensely curious about this iconic object that represents the enigma and cycles of their lives.
The cast of OVO is comprised of 50 performing artists from 12 countries specializing in many acrobatic acts.
Cirque du Soleil's OVO will run at the Royal Albert Hall from Sunday 7 January through to Sunday 11 February 2018.

Sandra Dickinson in I Loved Lucy opens 24 July 2017

Following two season's last year at the Jermyn Street Theatre, Anthony Biggs' production of Lee Tannen's play I Loved Lucy will open at London's Arts Theatre on Monday 24 July 2017, following pubic previews from 19 July. A personal, funny, bittersweet play charting Lee Tannen's 10-year relationship with TV comedy legend Lucille Ball of I Love Lucy fame. Although Lucy's public persona as an iconic comedic entertainer is all too well known. Out of the spotlight. What was she really like? And how did she choose to live at the end of her life? The cast featured Sandra Dickinson reprising her role as 'Lucy' with Matthew Scott joining her as 'Lee'. I Loved Lucy plays at the Arts Theatre for an eight week season up to Saturday 2 September 2017.

Natalie Dormer in David Ives' Venus in Fur opens 17 October 2017

Patrick Marber's new production of David Ives' dark comedy Venus in Fur opens at London's Haymarket Theatre on Tuesday 17 October 2017, following public previews from Friday 6 October.
"You don't have to tell me about sadomasochism. I'm in the theatre." Enigmatic actress Vanda Jordan appears unannounced for an audition with director Thomas Novachek. She’s determined to land the leading role in his new production – despite seeming wrong for the part. Over one evening in downtown Manhattan their charged meeting becomes a seductive dance to the end. A dark comedy about desire, fantasy.... and the love of fur.
The London West End cast for this 'two-hander' features Natalie Dormer - from The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - and David Oakes.
Venus in Fur was a hit on Broadway in 2012 where it enjoyed an eight month run, with the actress playing the role of 'Vanda' winning the Tony Award for 'Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play'.
Venus in Fur will play at the Haymarket Theatre for a strictly limited eleven week season up to Saturday 9 December 2017.

Half-a-Sixpence posts closing notices for 2 September 2017

It has been officially confirmed that - after a run of just over nine months - Rachel Kavanaugh's acclaimed revival of the classic British 1960s musical Half-a-Sixpence will close on Saturday 2 September 2017.
Arthur Kipps - an over-worked draper's assistant at Shalford's Bazaar in Folkestone - is a charming but ordinary young man who dreams of a better and more fulfilling world, but he likes his fun just like any other, except not quite. When Kipps unexpectedly inherits a fortune that propels him into high society, it confuses everything he thought he knew about life. With the help of his friends, Arthur learns that if you want to have the chance of living the right life, you need to make the right choices.
When this production opened in London Neil Norman in the Daily Express praised how, "after a triumphant run at Chichester Festival Theatre, Rachel Kavanaugh's production of Half A Sixpence has been refreshed and rebooted for the West End... Solid gold entertainment." Ann Treneman in the Times highlighted that "Andrew Wright's choreography is sharp throughout but on the best numbers it is extraordinary - absolutely stonking."
Half-a-Sixpence continues at the Noel Coward Theatre up to Saturday 2 September 2017.

Waiting for Godot opens 7 September 2017

Peter Reid's revival of Samuel Beckett's play Waiting For Godot opens at London's Arts Theatre on Thursday 7 September 2017, following public previews from Tuesday 5 September.
Two tramps clown around, joking and arguing, repeating themselves, as they wait through one day and then another, waiting for the mysterious Godot.
Originally staged in London at the Arts Theatre in 1955 - it shocked as many people as it delighted. There had never been a play like it. The combination of music hall, poetry and tension redefined what is possible in theatre.
The cast for this revival features Patrick O'Donnell as 'Estragon (Gogo)' and Nick Devlin as 'Vladimir (Didi)' with Paul Kealyn as 'Pozzo' and Conor Donelan as 'Lucky'.
Waiting For Godot will play a strictly limited three week season at the Arts Theatre up to Saturday 23 September 2017.

Broadway's Oslo transfers to London's West End from 2 October 2017

Bartlett Sher's Broadway production of J.T. Rogers' new play Oslo transfers to the West End's Harold Pinter Theatre from Monday 2 October 2017.
In 1993, in front of the world’s press, the leaders of Israel and Palestine shook hands on the lawn of the White House. Few watching would have guessed that the negotiations leading up to this iconic moment started secretly in a castle in the middle of a forest outside Oslo. This new play tells the true story of two maverick Norwegian diplomats who coordinated the top-secret talks and inspired seemingly impossible friendships between Israeli, Palestinian, Norwegian and American people. Their quiet heroics led to the ground-breaking Oslo Peace Accords.
Prior to the West End, the production will be staged for a limited three week run at London's National Theatre from 5 to 23 September 2017.
Oslo will play at the West End's Harold Pinter Theatre for a limited season up to Saturday 30 December 2017.

Simon Bird as The Philanthropist: 'strucks gold and delivers the goods'

Simon Callow's revival of Christopher Hampton's play The Philanthropist opened at the Trafalgar Studios on 20 April 2017 starring Simon Bird in the title role with Matt Berry, Lily Cole, Charlotte Ritchie and Tom Rosenthal.
The Prime Minister and his cabinet have been assassinated and England's most treasured writers are being murdered one by one. Back at the university, a bachelor don tries hard to please his academic friends as he anguishes over sex, marriage, anagrams and the meaning of life. Written by Christopher Hampton as a response to Moliere's The Misanthrope and described as a 'bourgeois comedy' that examines the empty, insular lives of college intellectuals.
When this revival opened Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph described it as being a "cool, crisp, English appropriation, rendered with a keen eye for period dress-sense by director Simon Callow," adding that "Callow has certainly struck gold with leading man Simon Bird... he delivers the goods by subtle incremental means... for those who've not seen the play before, it's a treat." Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail highlighted that "trendy casting and weak direction are the undoing of a revival of Christopher Hampton’s 1971 comedy The Philanthropist... No doubt this cast will improve as the three-month run unfolds" while Neil Norman in the Daily Express simply complained that it was "unremittingly tedious."
The Philanthropist continues at the Trafalgar Studios up to Saturday 22 July 2017.