London Theatre Weekly Round-up: Brits lead Tony nominations, critics go hard on ‘Chess,’ and ‘Wicked’ announces new cast member

Production still from Harry Potter and the Cursed Child London The Broadway transfer of 'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child' has 10 Tony Award nominations. Photo by Manuel Harlan.

With the Tony Award nominations announced on Tuesday, this was a big week for American Theatre. But with so many British actors, directors, and shows nominated for the 2018 Tonys, it’s also a pretty big week for London theatre. And with an exciting new casting announcement for Wicked, news of an incoming Hamilton parody, and other tidbits, we know you’re eager to hear all about it!

Well London, we finally got Hamilton over here, so guess what we’re getting next? Spamilton! The parody show has already played in New York, where it met with great reviews. Now it’s heading over the water to the West End, where it will play the Menier Chocolate Factory from 12 July to 8 September. The show, written by Gerard Alessandrini (who also wrote Forbidden Broadway) spoofs Lin-Manuel Miranda’s endlessly popular musical Hamilton.

All Or Nothing – The Mod Musical is closing 12 May after a rather short run at the Ambassadors Theatre (it opened there 28 May). Then again, the show has already enjoyed a sold out season at the Arts Theatre and a successful two year tour throughout the UK, so maybe it’s fair to say All Or Nothing has had its day in the sun.

Have you heard? 2018 Tony Award nominations are in, and Brits are showing up strong. Nominated shows include the Broadway transfers of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (10 nominations) and the National Theatre production of Angels in America (11 nominations). Both Angels in America director Marianne Elliot and Harry Potter director John Tiffany received nominations, as did British actors Susan Brown, Denise Gough, Noma Dumezweni, Anthony Boyle, Nathan Lane, Jamie Parker, Andrew Garfield, Tom Hollander, Mark Rylance, and Deborah Finlay. Lucy Kirkwood’s The Children, a transfer from the Royal Court in London, is also nominated. Is this the second British invasion or what?

In this week’s casting news, former EastEnders star David Witts plans to make his West End debut as Fiyero in the London production of Wicked starting 23 July. Witts has been involved in television and film for several years, but his training is in musical theatre, so we imagine he’s pretty thrilled.

What are the critics saying about Chess at the London Coliseum? Andrzej Lukowski of Time Out says the singing is spectacular (well, duh, I mean – Michael Ball, right?), but the musical itself is seriously dated and lacking in character development. He calls this revival “a gambit that hasn’t paid off.” Most critics seem to share Lukowski’s opinion, with several admitting they’re still a little miffed as to why anyone thought a musical whose dramatic center is the slow moving, silent game of chess was ever a good idea.

Meanwhile, the critics seem to love Jim Steinman’s musical Bat Out of Hell. The show is raking in four and five star reviews, with Tim Bano of The Stage calling it “ridiculous, overblown, baffling – and a joy.” The musical just released a slew of new production photos as well.

Christina Bennington in Bat Out of Hell London
Christina Bennington in ‘Bat Out of Hell.’ Photo by Specular.
Production still from Bat Out of Hell London
Andrew Polec and Christina Bennington in ‘Bat Out of Hell.’ Photo by Specular.