London Theatre Weekly Round-up: Autism-friendly performance of ‘Aladdin,’ new photos from ‘Strictly Ballroom’ and ‘Chicago’

Week after week, we’re here carrying the banner, rounding up all the latest London theatre news for your personal benefit (you’re welcome). This week, find out when you can catch an upcoming autism-friendly performance of Aladdin, which famous actor just dropped out of Chess, and what Ricky Gervais is currently up to. We’ve also got some brand new production shots from Chicago and Strictly Ballroom!

Disney’s Aladdin will hold another autism-friendly performance at 1:30 pm on 28 August. And The Lion King‘s next autism-friendly show, on 3 June, has sold out. Keep ’em coming, Disney.

Is is too early to start thinking about Christmas? Never! Especially not if you want to score a ticket for the Jack Thorne adaptation of A Christmas Carol at the Old Vic this December. The previous production, directed by Matthew Warchus, starred Rhys Ifans and was hailed as gorgeously atmospheric. We don’t have any details on casting for this year’s production yet, but stay tuned.

Bad news for fans of Murray Head and/or the musical Chess: the producers announced on Thursday that Head will no longer be appearing in the new West End production of Chess due to personal reasons. This is especially sad because (in case you don’t know) Murray Head starred in the original production of Chess when it debuted in the West End in 1986. Replacing Head as The Arbiter will be Cedric Neal, who recently starred in Motown the Musical. Of course, the rest of the cast are still in, and that’s reason enough to see the show. (Michael Ball, are we right???)

After an unlucky first preview that got sabotaged by an equipment malfunction, Strictly Ballroom has apparently bounced back onto the dance floor. The musical has released several new photos, and the whole cast (especially Will Young) looks pretty jazzed.

Production still from Strictly Ballroom London
Wally (Will Young) in ‘Strictly Ballroom The Musical’. Photo by Johan Persson.
Production still from Strictly Ballroom
Scott (Jonny Labey) in ‘Strictly Ballroom The Musical’. Photo by Johan Persson.

Meanwhile, Bat Out of Hell, the Jim Steinman musical opening in London on 19 April, spreads its wings with a new extension. The show is now booking until 27 October.

A Monster Calls at the Old Vic is now fully cast. Adapted from the novel by Patrick Ness, the production will feature Hammed Animashaun, Nandi Bhebhe, Selina Cadell, Matt Costain, Georgia Frost, Stuart Goodwin, Felix Hayes, Jonathan Holby, John Leader, Marianne Oldham, Matthew Tennyson and Witney White. Sally Cookson directs.

Ricky Gervais, stand-up comedian, actor, writer, and all-around awesome guy, will soon be able to list musical-writing among his many accomplishments. Strangers to Love, a Rick Astley jukebox musical written by Gervais, is set to hit the West End later this year. Kaiser Chiefs singer Ricky Wilson will make his West End debut in the starring role.

On the 74th anniversary of D-Day (6 June), David Haig’s WWII play Pressure will open in the West End. It’s already played a successful run at the Park Theatre (where it sold out), the Chichester Festival Theatre, and the Royal Lyceum in Edinburgh, not to mention a national tour. The production stars Haig alongside Malcolm Sinclair and Laura Rogers.

And here’s what you’ve all been waiting for…. brand new photos from the London revival of Chicago! The production starring Cuba Gooding Jr. kicked off its run 26 March, so it’s now in full swing. Here are a few rehearsal shots to whet your appetite:

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