Friday is here, and we’ve got your weekly round-up of all the biggest, latest news on the London theatre scene. Find out what the critics think of the new Tina Turner musical, what shows are heading our way, and who will be playing Jean Valjean in the upcoming UK and London tour of Les Misérables.
You waited. It’s finally coming. Anaïs Mitchell’s groundbreaking musical Hadestown is heading to London’s National Theatre this November ahead of a Broadway opening. The original Off-Broadway production was developed with and directed by Rachel Chavkin (of Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812). Hadestown is a new take on the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, with music that’s an odd but brilliant mix of American folk, New Orleans jazz, and indie. Casting has yet to be announced.
Mickey Mouse is turning 90!? He sure looks good for his age. To celebrate the Mouse’s 90th birthday, a new immersive production inspired by Disney’s 1940 film Fantasia will play at The Vaults July through September. The production will include all eight pieces of music from the original film. Daisy Evans, founder of Silent Opera, will direct.
Production photos for Tina – The Tina Turner Musical are finally here! The new show about music legend Tina Turner released images of Addrienne Warren rocking the title roll (big hair and all) to celebrate its opening at the Aldwych Theatre on 17 April.
But what do the critics think of Tina? In a few words, they’re floored. David Benedict of Variety notes that while the musical itself suffers from problems like a predictable story-line and a disappointing book, Adrienne Warren’s performance is sensational: “Warren’s knockdown performance here not only elevates an otherwise routine bio-musical into a triumph, it’s a slam-dunk for every upcoming awards ceremony.” Meanwhile, Michael Billington of The Guardian calls Warren “simply astonishing” and writes, “as far as bio-shows go, this is as good as it gets.” And doling out a five-star review, Dominic Cavendish of The Telegraph states: “this joyful, lungs-bursting show is simply the best.”
Killian Donnelly must really love Les Misérables, because after playing multiple roles in multiple productions (including the film and the 25th anniversary performance) he’s now heading out on tour as Jean Valjean. Donnelly is currently playing Valjean in the London production, where he’ll give his final performance 9 June. Then, it’s off for the UK and Ireland tour.
Sir Cameron Mackintosh, apparently a Killian Donnelly fan himself (who isn’t?) says: “When I announced the first UK tour of Les Misérables for ten years, I was really delighted that Killian said to me that he would like to continue playing Jean Valjean. No stranger to the original production, having played both Enjolras and Valjean with enormous success, his passionate take on the role will be even greater in the thrilling staging of my new production which has proved to be a worldwide success all over again. He is the first Irishman to play the role since Colm Wilkinson in the original and I’m delighted that from advance bookings, this new tour looks set to be sold out before we open.” Amen to that.
The Duke of York’s Theatre production of King Lear starring Ian McKellen announces full casting. Reprising their roles from the Chichester Festival production will be Sinéad Cusack (Kent), Danny Webb (Gloucester), Kirsty Bushell (Regan), Richard Clews, John Hastings, Michael Matus and Caleb Roberts. Joining them will be James Corrigan (Edmund), Lloyd Hutchinson (Fool), Claire Price (Goneril), Luke Thompson (Edgar), and Anita-Joy Uwajeh (Cordelia). And if you don’t get a chance to catch the production live in London, you’ll be able to watch it in cinemas on 27 September. Ian McKellen has said this may be his last major Shakespearean role, which is kind of a big deal. (In other words, you don’t want to miss this one, people!)
Olivier Award-winner Matt Henry will lead the cast of The Two Noble Kinsmen at Shakespeare’s Globe in a production directed by Barrie Rutter. Henry won an Olivier for his performance as Lola in the original West End cast of Kinky Boots. He’ll be playing Pirithous in this production, which opens in May.
The National Theatre’s Consent (by Nina Raine) announces casting for its West End transfer. Returning will be Claudie Blakley, Stephen Campbell Moore, Heather Craney and Adam James. Joining them will be Clare Foster, Lee Ingleby and Thusitha Jayasundera. Directed by Roger Mitchell, this play about a rape case opens at the Harold Pinter Theatre in May.
In other casting news, Harry Hepple (Boy Meets Girl) and Ellie Nunn will lead the cast of D. H. Lawrence’s The Daughter-in-Law – a play never published or performed during Lawrence’s lifetime – at Arcola Theatre. Staged in the round, this will be the play’s first London production in more than 15 years. Veronica Roberts, Matthew Biddulph, and Tessa Bell-Briggs make up the rest of the cast, with Jack Gamble directing.
A new musical based on Kahlil Gibran’s autobiographical story Broken Wings will have its West End premiere in August. Nadim Naaman, known for playing Raoul in the West End production of The Phantom of the Opera, co-wrote the show with composer Dana Al Fardan. Casting has yet to be announced, but we will get a first listen and a concept album before this thing is over. From the little we know so far, the show is shaping up to be absolutely gorgeous, so we can’t wait to hear the music.
Speaking of new musicals, we’re pretty excited for the UK premiere of Andrew Lippa’s musical A Little Princess, which will star Amanda Abbington (of Sherlock fame) and Danny Mac (Samba dancer extraordinaire – no, seriously, he broke records on Strictly Come Dancing last year). At this point, we don’t know who the rest of the cast will be, but as always, you can trust us to keep you posted.