London Theatre Weekly Round-up: Who’s wearing the kinky boots next, new National Theatre season, and more!

Simon-Anthony Rhoden and Oliver Tompsett in Kinky Boots London Simon-Anthony Rhoden and Oliver Tompsett. Photo by Helen Maybanks

It’s Friday! That means the weekend is almost here, and so is your weekly London theatre news round-up. Discover a newly re-opened Victorian theatre, Kinky Boots casting changes, and new seasons at the National Theatre and Donmar Warehouse.

Get kinky! Oliver Tompsett and Natalie McQueen are ready to take you higher as they join the cast of Kinky Boots starting 4 June. Tompsett, whose West End credits include Fiyero in Wicked and Galileo in We Will Rock You, takes over the role of Charlie Price from David Hunter, who will play his last performance on 2 June. McQueen will take over the role of Lauren, and Simon-Anthony Rhoden will continue as Lola.

The National Theatre announces its new season, which, if you haven’t heard, features the UK premiere of Anaïs Mitchell’s musical Hadestown – playing at the Olivier from 2 November to 26 January before transferring to Broadway. The National Theatre’s award-winning production of Follies will also return, playing the Olivier from 19 February, with Janie Dee and Peter Forbes reprising their roles in the Sondheim musical. Other productions in the new season include William Shakespeare’s Pericles; Exit the King starring Adrian Scarborough, Debra Gillett, Derek Griffiths, Amy Morgan, Rhys Ifans, and Indira Varma; and Home, I’m Darling featuring Katherine Parkinson.

New seasons are getting announced all over the place. We’ll take them! The Donmar Warehouse adds Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure and Brian Friel’s Aristocrats to its repertoire. The latter will star Hayley Atwell and Jack Lowden as they take on a new acting challenge: to swap roles in the middle of each production. Atwell and Lowden will share the roles of Isabella and Angelo, alternating parts within the play to show how a shift in gender roles changes the power dynamic. And that’s not all this play will be swapping. Apparently director Josie Rourke has created a production that alternates between 2018 and 1604 – the year the play was written. If the audience can keep Shakespeare’s story straight with all of that going on, we’ll give them a standing ovation.

Thriller Live announces new booking through 7 April 2019, with 190,000 additional seats now on sale. And there’s more! On 12 September, Thriller Live marks its 400th performance in the West End with a special gala show. In May, the cast will welcome several new dancers, including Leona Lawrenson, Mari Macleod, Matt Vjestica, and Vivian Gayle.

Strictly Ballroom gets some hard knocks from the critics. TimeOut gives it four stars but notes that the musical has some issues, and other critics are far less enthusiastic. The Guardian christens it “Baz Luhrmann’s dancefloor disaster.” And The Stage points out that this musical is all show and no substance. The one concession most critics make is that Strictly Ballroom is at least visually stunning.

A little more casting news is here for A Little Princess – the UK premiere of Andrew Lippa’s musical based on the classic book. Amanda Abbington (as Miss Minchin) and Danny Mac (as Captain Crewe) have already been announced, but now we know who will be joining them. Olivier Award winners Rebecca Trehearn (Showboat, City of Angels) and Adam J. Bernard (Dreamgirls) will play Miss Amelia and Pasko, respectively. And Alexia Khadime (Wicked) will play Aljana. Child actor Jasmine Sakyiama will play the title role.

After 80 years of disuse and a refurbishment that cost millions, the “hidden” theatre in the Alexandra Palace is due to open again this September. The Victorian theatre opened in 1875, but it’s been closed to the public for decades now. Over the years, it’s played many roles, including a prop store, a cinema, and a center for refugees. Now it’s a theatre once more. The BBC concert orchestra will officially open the restored venue with a September performance, preceding the newly reopened theatre’s full season starting in December.