All you want to know about London Theater: The Theatreguys are back!

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All you want to know about London Theater: The Theatreguys are back!

WHAT’S ON IN LONDON

AMERICAN VISITORS

American visitors are always welcome in London’s West End, as they bring an extra fizz to an already heady mixture. This summer, the special relationship has been strengthened by actors on stage and by writers whose works are celebrated.

It’s now 50 years since the decriminalization of homosexuality in the UK (yes, we’ve all come a long way since then) and among the many home-grown events on stage and television to celebrate Gay Britannia, there’s a timely revival of Tony Kushner’s masterpiece Angels in America at the National Theatre’s Lyttelton Theatre.  The cast is led by Nathan Lane as the monstrous Roy Cohn, with Oscar-nominee Andrew Garfield, Russell Tovey (Looking) and Denise Gough (soon taking her award-winning performance in People, Places and Things to BAM) this is a lengthy roller-coaster ride that lasts 7 and a half hours. It’s been greeted by enthusiasm by cheering audiences. The Director is Marianne Elliott which gives an extra twist to Prior’s comment when the Angel appears – “Very Steven Spielberg!” – as Spielberg directed the movie of Elliott’s War Horse.

There was much lamenting last year when  Audra McDonald’s promised visit in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill  was cancelled. Now Ms McDonald has made good her promise, and those of you who waiting anxiously for her to arrive are being rewarded with her searing performance, I suspect that she is temperamentally a million miles away from Lady Day, which makes her embodiment (I can’t call it a performance; it transcends that) of the role more astounding. Head to Wyndham’s Theatre for tickets.

Who would have thought that Bob Dylan would write songs for a musical? Well, perhaps not, but he’s given permission to Conor McPherson to plunder his song-book and select musical numbers for Girl from the North Country, now at the Old Vic.  Set in Depression-era Minnesota, a great ensemble cast ( Ciaran Hinds, Shirley Henderson, Arinze Kene) flex their muscles on McPherson’s script, and open their heart’s in Dylan’s songs.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof  is a big play, one of the biggest from Tennessee Williams. Its themes are as relevant today as when it was written 50 years ago. Colm Meaney (Star Trek) fills the Apollo Theatre as Big Daddy, but attention has focused on Sienna Miller and Jack O’Connell and their much talked about nude scenes. Another reason not to miss!

Come and see us soon!    

 

No-one could be more abrasive than Edward Albee, and you can savor the stinging wit and verbal dexterity of two of his plays just around the corner from each other. Imelda Staunton (Gypsy) and Conleth Hill take no prisoners as the warring but affectionate couple in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Their hapless guests are Imogen Poots  and Luke Treadaway. Head to the Harold Pinter Theatre without delay for a ringside seat. Meanwhile, a short distance away (you could make it a double-header) Damian Lewis and Sophie Okonedo butt heads in The Goat. As the humor of the play gives way to the darker twists of the plot, we discover that this play has the power to shock and disturb. It’s a battle of heavyweights between the leading actors, and a thrilling occasion for anyone lucky enough to grab a ticket at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket.

Want something more light-hearted? Head for the Menier Chocolate Factory for the first London revival of Terence Rattigan’s comedy Love in Idleness.  This was a great success for the Lunts when it was first presented, and after its completely sold-out run at the Menier, it’s heading for the Apollo in the West End. Newcomer Edward Blumel makes his claim for future stardom here, and Helen George and Antony Head (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) hit the right note of period elegance, but the evening belongs to TONY winner Eve Best (A Moon for the Misbegotten). Exploring the artificial comedy of the play and suddenly taking us by surprises with shafts of heartfelt emotion, she dazzles throughout.

At the Barbican, Jude Law brings a brooding presence and impressive athleticism to Obsession. Director Ivo von Hove (A View from the Bridge) leaves his fingerprints all over the scene of the crime in this version of film director Luchino Visconti’s movie of The Postman Always Rings Twice. Audiences are divided; it’s a talking-point that you should see.

You’ll need to get up with the larks to line up for day tickets for Angels in America at the National Theatre. Tony Kushner has made revisions to his epic play, which director Marianne Elliott (War Horse) brings to the stage with a mighty cast, headed by Nathan Lane, Andrew Garfield, Russell Tovey and Denise Gough. It’s a life-changing spectacle for anyone lucky enough to get a ticket.

And book now for the National Theatre’s longed for revival of  Follies. Speculation about casting for this wonderful Stephen Sondheim show has been raging since it was announced. Now we know that it’s Janie Dee, Philip Quast and Tracie Bennett  – and Imelda Staunton is limbering to play Sally.

All this – and an election. It’s all happening in London!

 Lazarus Lives On (Virtually)
London’s Victoria and Albert Museum has, for the last 25 years, recorded theatrical performances through its National Video Archive of Performance, much like the New York Public Library of Performing Arts does. It now holds over 350 recordings, including the 2016 London production of David Bowie and Enda Walsh’s Lazarus. As part of the museum’s annual Performance Festival. there will be an opportunity for audiences to see part of the Lazarus recording through VR headsets.

Michael C. Hall in <i>Lazarus</i>
Michael C. Hall in Lazarus

Duncan Sheik hints that American Psycho could return to London
Ahead of the opening of his new musical Whisper House at London’s Other Place Theatre, Duncan Sheik told The Stage newspaper that American Psycho, which originally premiered at London’s Almeida Theatre in 2013 before a short-lived run on Broadway last year, could return. He had met with the show’s original director Rupert Goold and said: “We’re hatching plans to bring it back to London, knock on wood. It’s not dead yet.”

Tony-nominated Broadway star Matthew Morrison (Light in the Piazza) is to appear in concert at the London Hippodrome for three performances May 16–17.

Matilda the Musical, still running at the West End’s Cambridge Theatre, is set to roll out a simultaneous U.K tour, beginning performances March 5, 2018 at Leicester’s Curve.

LET’S HEAR IT FOR THE GIRLS

First it was a movie with Helen Mirren and Julie Walters. Then it was a very popular play. Now as sure as March follows February, Calendar Girls has become THE GIRLS – the Musical at the Phoenix Theatre. Tim Firth has adapted his own script. And the music is by Gary Barlow, former singer/songwriter with Take That. It’s the story of the Women’s Institute who posed for a nude calendar (in the best possible taste) to raise money for the local hospice after the death of the husband of one of their members died. It’s still a story that tugs at the heart-strings, and you’ll be very hard-hearted if you don’t brush away a tear. But there’s a lot of humour, and the songs are delivered with gusto by a cast of mature stage veterans, led by Joanna Riding, Claire Moore, Sophie-Louise Dann and Michelle Dotrice. And indeed the ladies do disrobe – perhaps not in the best possible taste, but with much hilarity! Guaranteed to send you out with a smile.

If you want your musicals a bit more raunchy, you might try THE WILD PARTY at The Other Palace.  This is Michael John La Chiusa’s take on the infamous poem by Joseph Moncure Marsh, and it’s fast, furious and frenetic. Drew McOnie directs and choreographs and at times I wanted to beg him to stop so I could catch my breath! The snake-hipped Frances Ruffelle (TONY winner for Les Miserables) is part-thrower Queenie, and her guests include Tiffany Graves, Victoria Hamilton-Barritt and surprise guest Donna McKechnie. This mixture of gin, skin and sin may leave you exhausted, but you’ll enjoy the ride.

It’s Shakespeare – but not as you know him! We’ve had Glenda Jackson as KING LEAR, Harriet Walter as Prospero in THE TEMPEST and now there’s a very mixed gender TWELFTH NIGHT at the National’s Olivier Theatre. The leading role of Malvolio has become Malvolia, and yes, she’s still in love with  her mistress Olivia. The reliably comic Tamsin Greig (Episodes) takes the role with conviction and with great success in a truly fabulous production, with  a cast that includes Oliver Chris (One Man, Two Guv’nors) and Phoebe Fox (A View from the Bridge). It’s a fresh take on the play that honours the original.

What can you do with HAMLET that hasn’t been done before? Well, you can start with director Robert Icke who combines a careful examination of the play with the latest in stage technology. Then you can add charismatic Andrew Scott (Moriarty in television’s Sherlock) as a compelling, intense Prince, with Juliet Stevenson as his mother Gertrude and Jessica Brown Finlay (Downton Abbey) as Ophelia and you get a vivid and exhilarating look at this well-known classic – with a few surprises along the way. Lines for returns form everyday at the Almeida Theatre.

You can collect two Tom Stoppard plays as well. The hugely successful Menier Chocolate Factory production of TRAVESTIES has transferred to the Apollo Theatre, and the brilliant cast, led by Tom Hollander (The Night Manager) and Freddie Fox, are dazzling audiences at every performance with their intellectual high-jinks. There’s never been a better staging of this terrific play, so catch it if you can. Meanwhile, Daniel Radcliffe and Joshus Maguire take the title roles in ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD at the Old Vic. This is another look at HAMLET, but this time it’s a glimpse from the wings, as two minor characters in Shakespeare’s play take centre-stage, and find themselves comically out of their depth. What’s going on, and why, and couldn’t we just get on with our own lives, are only some of the questions that puzzle R & G, to the delight of the audience.

So it’s not just something for the girls – if you want great entertainment, there’s something for everyone!    Theatreguy Fredo 1 March 2017

 

   

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By |August 8th, 2017|Special Events, Theater|0 Comments

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