London Theatre Weekly Round-up: Jamie extends, JC Superstar heads to the Barbican, Ian McKellen launches tour, and more!

Everybody’s talking about the latest news in London theatre this week! Discover which RuPaul’s Drag Race star is coming to the London stage, who will be appearing in the musical premiere of A Christmas Story, and when you can catch Jesus Christ Superstar at the Barbican. Plus, find out how Ian McKellen plans to celebrate his 80th birthday.

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie extends! And no one is surprised. The musical about 16-year-old Jamie New has taken the London theatre world by storm. You can now catch it at the Apollo Theatre until 28 September 2019.

Todrick Hall of RuPaul’s Drag Race will join the West End production of Chicago. Todrick Hall shot to fame on the ninth season of American Idol when he became a semi-finalist. He went on to become a YouTube sensation and a judge for RuPaul’s Drag Race. On Broadway, he’s starred as Lola in Kinky Boots and Billy Flynn in Chicago. Now, from 19 November to 5 January, Hall will take over the role of Billy Flynn in Chicago on the West End.

Jesus Christ Superstar will transfer to the Barbican. After playing Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre in 2016 and 2017 and taking home the 2017 Olivier Award for best revival of a musical, Jesus Christ Superstar is all set for a run at the Barbican Theatre in 2019. But hurry up: Andrew Lloyd Webber’s rock musical will only play 60 performances, from 4 July to 24 August. Casting has yet to be announced.

Jesus Christ Superstar Regent's Park London
Jesus Christ Superstar at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. Photo: Johan Persson.

Ian McKellen will embark on an 80 venue tour across the UK. No one does birthdays like Sir Ian McKellen. In celebration of his 80th, the legendary actor will perform his new solo show in 80 venues across the UK–from London to Wales and everywhere in between. The show will explore McKellen’s life on stage and some stories from his career. In his own words: “The show starts with Gandalf and will probably end with an invitation to act with me on stage. In-between there will be anecdotes and acting.” The tour kicks off from The Space (London) at the end of January and finishes at The National mid September. Proceeds from each show will benefit the theatre hosting it. Never change, Sir Ian.

Denis O’Hare will star in Tartuffe at The National Theatre. Molière’s comedy is certainly popular these days–it recently played The Theatre Royal Haymarket. Now it’s making a comeback in a new National Theatre production by John Donnelly, with Denis O’Hare (Take Me Out, Sweet Charity, True Blood) making his National Theatre debut as Tartuffe himself. Blanche McIntyre will also make her National Theatre debut as director.

The Wider Earth extends at the Natural History Museum. The new play about young Charles Darwin’s voyage on the HMS Beagle, featuring 30 hand-crafted puppets, will now play until 24 February 2019. Read our interview with playwright David Morton here!

The Simon & Garfunkel Story announces six more performances for 2019. The show that tells the story of Simon & Garfunkel through their most beloved songs comes to the Lyric Theatre in January, starring Charles Blyth and Sam O’Hanlon. (Meanwhile, if you don’t want to wait until January, you can catch it at the Vaudeville Theatre this month.)

The Simon & Garfunkel Story London production still
The Simon & Garfunkel Story

Casting is announced for Pasek and Paul’s A Christmas StoryThe musical adaptation of the classic 1980s Christmas comedy will star Simon Willmont (Mamma Mia!, Blood Brothers) and Lucyelle Cliffe (Legally Blonde, Les Misérables) as Mr. and Mrs. Parker, respectively. Jenny Gayner (Chicago, Spamalot) will play Miss Shields. And Garry Freer (Me and My Girl, Little Shop of Horrors) will play narrator Jean Shepherd. The musical premiers at Waterloo East Theatre at the end of the month. Meanwhile, we’d just like to thank Pasek and Paul for existing.

Denis O’Hare will star in Tartuffe at The National Theatre. Moliere’s comedy is certainly popular these days–it recently played The Theatre Royal Haymarket. Now it’s making a comeback in a new National Theatre production by John Donnelly, with Denis O’Hare (Take Me Out, Sweet Charity, True Blood) making his National Theatre debut in the role of Tartuffe. Blanche McIntyre will also make her National Theatre debut as director of the production.

Hugh Dennis, Lesley Garrett and John Marquez will star in Patrick Barlow’s The MessiahThis Christmas comedy features a traveling duo of actors and one opera diva bent on reenacting the nativity story. Is this The Play That Goes Wrong meets Nativity!? Find out starting 3 December.

The Messiah London banner

Rip It Up is coming to London. Featuring Strictly Come Dancing stars Harry Judd, Aston Merrygold and Louis Smith, Rip It Up will dance into London this February for a four month run. The show takes audiences on a wild ride through the 60s, with music from The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Aretha Franklin, and more. Plus, a new cast member was just announced–find out who it will be here! Tickets go on sale today.

The Mousetrap announces a UK tour. The world’s longest running play is set to embark on a UK tour starting in January 2019. Agatha Christie’s murder mystery will star Gwyneth Strong (Only Fools and Horses) as Mrs. Boyle, with Gareth Armstrong directing. But don’t worry! You’ll still be able to catch it in the West End–presumably forever.

Hadestown has started performances. Head way down to Hadestown–now in previews at The National Theatre!

 

Rip It Up West End: Who’s the mystery cast member?

Beatlemania. Moon landing. James Bond. Rip It Up is reviving all the iconic sights and sounds of the 60s in one thrilling show! After last year’s 50s-themed production, the Strictly Come Dancing spin-off presents a 60s spectacular, complete with the music of The Rolling Stones, The Who, the Bee Gees, Simon & Garfunkel, The Beach Boys, Elvis, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye–and of course The Beatles. Performances start in February 2019.

Strictly Come Dancing champions Harry Judd and Louis Smith and people’s champion Aston Merrygold are the stars of this psychedelic celebration. Backing them will be the Rip It Up live band and a supporting cast of singers and dancers.

But there’s more news on the horizon. Rip It Up recently announced that Harry, Aston and Louis will be joined by a new lead cast member. Who could it be?

Rip It Up new cast member
For the record, we don’t think the mystery cast member is Ringo Starr.

The Magical Mystery Cast Member

Rip It Up sure hasn’t given many hints about who the mystery cast member will be. So we decided to look at the cast of last year’s show for some ideas.

Rip It Up Dancing Through the 50s featured Strictly Come Dancing stars Natalie Lowe, Jay McGuiness and Louis Smith. Could one of them be reappearing in the show? Natalie Lowe could certainly draw a crowd, and people have been clamoring for her to return to Strictly Come Dancing.

Here’s another idea: the last Rip It Up show featured Radio 2’s Leo Green and his 50s band. Maybe another musician or radio personality is destined to join the show.

Then again, we’d love to see an actual icon from the 60s join the cast! A big name star like Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel, Paul McCartney, or Bob Dylan seems unlikely. But perhaps a Beach Boy? Or one of the Doors? Some of these rockers are still rocking hard!

The Big Reveal

Tickets are now on-sale, so we can reveal who the mystery cast member is here!

Rip It Up

Venue: Garrick Theatre

2 Charing Cross Rd, London WC2H 0HH

First performance: Thursday 7th February 2019, 7:30pm

Press night: Tuesday 12th February 2019, 7pm 

Last performance: Sunday 2nd June 2019, 7:30pm

Performance Schedule
Wednesday 2pm & 7.30pm
Thursday 7.30pm
Friday 7.30pm
Saturday 2pm & 7.30pm
Sunday 2pm & 7.30pm
Book tickets online: https://www.fromtheboxoffice.com/PB5L-rip-it-up/

London Theatre Weekly Round-up: Amélie comes to London, Andrew Lloyd Webber musical in the works, Young Vic announces new season, and more!

No, it’s not a musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber. It’s a musical about Andrew Lloyd Webber. (Though, honestly, we’d take either.) That and the announcement that Amélie will play London on its 2019 UK tour have got us pretty excited this week. And there’s more news where that came from! Learn about other upcoming theatrical happenings in your weekly news round-up.

Amélie will stop in London on its upcoming UK tour. Based on the beloved French film, the musical adaptation of Amélie played Broadway in 2017 and will make its UK premiere in April. You can catch it in London at the New Wimbledon Theatre from 22 to 25 May 2019.

A new musical about Andrew Lloyd Webber is in the works. Based on his recently released autobiography Unmasked, and written by Richard Curtis, the new musical will get a series of public workshops at The Other Palace at the end of November under the direction of Laurence Connor. Set to be highly experimental with no two performances the same, the workshops will star Siobhan Dillon, Ben Forster, Tyrone Huntley, Rosanna Hyland, Ria Jones, Stephen Leask, Anna O’Byrne and Michael Xavier. In the meantime, if you haven’t gotten your hands on Unmasked, you can find 10 surprising facts about the Lord of the Musicals here.

Caroline, or Change extends its upcoming West End run. Michael Longhurst’s production starring Sharon D. Clarke opens at the Playhouse Theatre 20 November. Written by celebrated playwright Tony Kushner (Angels in America), Caroline, or Change is currently booking until 6 April. Watch the trailer below.

Marianne Elliott will direct a new production of Death of a Salesman starring Wendell Pierce and Sharon D. Clarke. Fresh on the heels of her roaring success with Company, Elliott will try her hand at another much-staged classic, Arthur Miller’s famous American tragedy. Wendell Pierce (Suits, The Wire) plays the salesman of the title, Willy Loman; with Sharon D. Clarke (Caroline, or Change) as Willy’s wife Linda. Death of a Salesman runs from May 2019 at the Young Vic. In fact, you’ll be able to catch four major West End productions of Arthur Miller plays in the first half of 2019 alone: The American Clock and All My Sons at The Old Vic and The Price at Wyndham’s Theatre. But can you handle that much tragedy?

Home, I’m Darling will transfer to the West End after its sold-out run at the National Theatre. Katherine Parkinson, known for her screen roles in Humans and The IT Crowd, stars in this play about a woman trying to live a 1950s lifestyle in the 21st century. Written by Laura Wade and directed by Tamara Harvey, Home, I’m Darling will open at the Duke of York’s Theatre at the end of January, with tickets on sale 9 November.

Heathers the Musical will hold a sing-a-long performance ahead of the release of a new cast recording. The original London cast recording of Heathers the Musical will feature all the songs from the world premiere recording–plus three new ones. No release date has been announced yet, but you can get in the spirit by singing along with the cast at the 2 November performance. And get ready to welcome a new cast member! On 5 November, Amy Booth-Steel will take over the role of Ms. Flemming.

Heathers the Musical London triplet

Striking 12, an Off-Broadway musical based on Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Matchgirl, opens at the Union Theatre later this month. Written by Brendan Milburn, Valerie Vigoda and Rachel Sheinkin, Striking 12 tells the story of a man abandoned by his fiancée and soon to lose his job who has a strange encounter with a lightbulb seller on New Year’s Eve. The production runs 28 November through 23 December at London’s Union Theatre.

Almeida Theatre will stage a new production of Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of King Richard the Second. Directed by Joe Hill-Gibbins, the production will star Simon Russell Beale as King Richard II. He will be joined by Leo Bill, Martins Imhangbe and Natalie Klamar. The production opens 10 December.

The Young Vic announces its 2019 season. In addition to Marianne Elliott’s Death of a Salesman, the theatre will host Kew-Armah and Idris Elba’s Tree: a show which previously ran at the Manchester International Festival. It explores life in South Africa post-Nelson Mandela through music (from Elba’s album Mi Mandela), dance and film.

Tree Young Vic banner
Idris Elba’s Tree will play at the Young Vic in 2019

As part of its YV Unpacked series, the Young Vic will mount a new adaptation of Frank Wedekind’s Spring Awakening. Adapted and directed by Caroline Byrne, this new production of the 1891 German play will feature a cast of actor-musicians and a score by Tasha Taylor Johnson.

A new version of Garcia Lorca’s Blood Wedding will run in September, followed by the world premiere of Jackie Sibblies Drury’s play Fairview. Other productions in the new season line-up are April De Angelis’ Wild East, Hatti Taylor’s Ivan and the Dogs, Luke Barnes’ The Jumper Factory, Okwui Okpokwasili’s Bronx Gothic and Jordan Tannahill’s Draw Me Close.

Griff Rhys Jones will lead the London Musical Theatre Orchestra’s 2018 production of A Christmas CarolFollowing sold-out performances for the last two years, the London Musical Theatre Orchestra will return to the Lyceum this Christmas with their popular concert production of A Christmas Carol, written by Alan Menken, Lynn Ahrens and Mike Ockrent. Comedian Griff Rhys Jones will star as Ebenezer Scrooge. Joining him will be Lucie Jones (Les Misérables), Miriam-Teak Lee (Hamilton), Cedric Neal (Chess), Rosemary Ashe (The Witches of Eastwick) and Nicolas Colicos (The Producers). Get ready for holiday spirits!

Our top Christmas Show picks for 2018

Christmas is officially on its way! With the festive spirit filling the air, we’ve put together a handy list of all our favourite Christmas Shows for this year. From family friendly shows to classic ballet, read our top picks below!

For families
If there’s one thing that Christmas is for, it’s spending time with your nearest and dearest. What better way to get together and enjoy the Christmas holidays than with a day out and a show in London? We recommend…

Circus 1903
Featuring sensational puppetry and daring feats, this is a show that will have the whole family in awe. Opening on December 19th, Circus 1903 is a sure-fire way to feel the magic this Christmas.

What’s even better than watching a great show with your family? Saving on tickets, of course! Book now and save up to 35% on selected seats.

Stick Man
stick-man-triplet-one-OXJQThe much-loved adaptation of Julia Donaldson’s children’s book returns to the West End stage this Christmas and is the perfect show for young children. With a running time of just 55 minutes, and plenty of hilarious action to keep them entertained, kids will love this award-winning production. Book tickets now and save up to 48% – tickets start at just £15!

Rumpelstiltskin
A treat for older children (8+ is advised), this classic fairy tale is re-imagined with twists, turns and supreme silliness. Opening on 13th December, this five-star, ‘outrageous rocking musical’ (Sunday Mail) stars Australian singer and cabaret star Paul Capsis. Book now and save up to 44%.

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Nativity! The Musical
Full of your favourite hits from the much-loved films, Nativity! returns to the Hammersmith Eventim Apollo this Christmas, with Danny Dyer, Jo Brand and Dani Dyer in tow! With tickets selling fast, don’t miss out on this star-studded smash-hit.

A Christmas Carol with Simon Callow
Following three previous sell-out seasons, this heart-warming and critically acclaimed production of Charles’ Dickens classic tale returns to the Arts Theatre from 8th December for a strictly limited season. A must-see Christmas story for all generations, if you don’t want to miss out, book your tickets now.

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Ballet
There are few things more magical than taking a trip to see ballet in London at Christmas. Our top ballet productions this year are…

The Nutcracker
Tchaikovsky’s classic Christmas tale never fails to warm the heart. Opening at the London Coliseum on December 12th, this production from English National Ballet is as traditional and as enchanting as it gets at Christmas! Book now from just £16.80.

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The Snowman
From The Peacock Theatre comes a show that is ‘guaranteed to melt the heart of even the most cynical scrooge’ (The Guardian). Based on the book and film of the same name, The Snowman is returning to the London stage for a record-breaking 21st year. Children under 2 go free and you can book tickets from just £18.

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Girls (or boys!) night out
Celebrate Christmas with your friends with a riotous night out on the town. We’ve got a fabulous selection of shows to keep you more than entertained this Winter…

Briefs: Close Encounters
Grab your red lipstick and prepare for a fierce night of drag, burlesque, circus and everything else you could possibly want with the Briefs boys! Beat the Christmas chills with this super-hot and thrilling show, with tickets starting from £15.

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The boys are also available to make your New Year’s Eve truly and fabulously unforgettable – book tickets to the NYE party of your dreams here.

The Silent Disco Show
Grab your dancing shoes, grab your glowsticks and prepare yourself for a sensory party experience unlike any other. Donning your very own special glowing headphones, this unique club night experience is guaranteed to have you feeling the party spirit this Christmas. Book now from £18.60.

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Burlesque Carol Concert
Carol singing with one hell of a twist, House of Burlesque invites you to raise your voices and your glasses to all of your favourite Christmas songs as they put on a show that’s sure to raise your pulse. With tickets from just £15.60, you can’t go wrong with this one!

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If you didn’t quite find what you were looking for, we have a myriad of incredible events guaranteed to get you feeling festive: browse our fantastic selection of Christmas shows right here.

London Theatre Weekly Round-Up: The Band gala, new Jamie, Company cast recording, and more!

Who doesn’t love an opening night gala? We’ve also got two seasons to announce, a Company cast recording (yay!), and a brand new Jamie. Check it out!

Take That will perform at The Band‘s opening night gala performance. Following its UK tour, new musical The Band opens 4 December at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. But this won’t be just any opening night: the production will host a special gala performance for the Elton John AIDS Foundation. Take That, whose biggest hits are featured in the musical, will perform as part of the gala.

Starting 28 January 2019, Layton Williams will play the title role in Everybody’s Talking About Jamie. Williams will take over from John McCrea, the current Jamie. Williams’ past theatre credits include the title role in Billy Elliot, Seaweed Stubbs in the UK tour of Hairspray and Angel in the 20th anniversary production and UK tour of Rent. He’s also known for his role on the BBC Three sitcom Bad Education.

Layton Williams in Everybody's Talking About Jamie
Layton Williams will play Jamie New starting next January

Marianne Elliott’s Company revival will get a cast recording. The acclaimed production, which just opened last week, is set to record a cast album in November. No official release date yet, but we’ll keep you posted.

Lambert Jackson announces a concert featuring the women of the West End. West End Women – A Celebration of Women in Musicals will feature Rachel John (Hamilton), Lauren Samuels (Romantics Anonymous, Bend It Like Beckham) and Celinde Schoenmaker (The Phantom of the Opera, Les Misérables) in some of the most famous musical theatre hits of all time. The concert takes place at Cadogan Hall on 2 February 2019.

A Hundred Words for Snow, Tatty Hennessy’s play about a girl taking her father’s ashes to the North Pole, will return to London next year. Directed by Lucy Atkinson, this “coming of age story with polar bears” comes to Trafalgar Studios from 5 March 2019.

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The Royal Court announces its 2019 season. The line-up includes the end of history…: a play by Harry Potter and the Cursed Child duo Jack Thorne and John Tiffany. There will also be an immersive escape room experience: Dismantle this Room, which considers power structures within theatre. Plus, a musical about Brexit, a piece that deals with the misrepresentation of women in prison and a play that channels Kylie Jenner.

Southwark’s Playhouse announces its 2019 season. As previously announced, Aspects of Love and The Rubenstein Kiss will play in 2019. All in a Row, a collaboration by Alex Oates and Dominic Shaw (Silk Road) looks at the challenges of raising an autistic child. A new production of Twelfth Night set at a music festival opens in January, followed by James Saunders’ comedy Bodies–revived for the first time in 40 years. Opening in May is a musical adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by Jethro Compton and Darren Clark.

New production photos are out for Matilda. New cast members joined the company of Matilda in September. Judging from the newly released production photos, Hayden Tee, Rob Compton and Holly Dale Spencer appear to be settling in all right!

Hayden Tee in Matilda London
Hayden Tee and the cast of Matilda. Photo: Manuel Harlan.

Shakespeare’s Globe announces full casting for Paulette Randall’s Doctor Faustus. Opening in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse 1 December, this new production of Marlowe’s classic play will feature Sarah Amankwah (Amadeus, The Threepenny Opera, The Lion King), Lily Bevan, Jocelyn Jee Esien (Little Miss Jocelyn),  John Leader (A Monster Calls, Peter Pan), Louis Maskell, Pauline McLynn (Father Ted, Transformers, EastEnders), Lucie Sword, Mandi Symonds and Jay Villiers.

Misty exclusive: interview with Arinzé Kene

He’s the man behind the show that is currently taking the West End by storm: From The Box Office chatted with Misty writer and star Arinzé Kene about the success of the show, diversity in the West End and what we can expect from him next… Read his answers below.

Misty opened on the West End to rave reviews and standing ovations after every performance. Did you imagine when you were first trying to write the play that this would be the outcome?
No, not at all – that doesn’t really cross my mind when I’m working. I try not to let that come into the creative process; I try and keep the creative process as pure as possible and focus on the art. That sometimes means having certain people in the room at certain phases [of creation], some at early stages, some at later stages. We have created a piece that was very honest. I think that having a piece that is as pure as [Misty] is, as untamed as it is, that was the dream, and the success is really just a bonus of that.

What have you most enjoyed about working on Misty?
Firstly, the way that we’ve managed to continue to improve the show, even now that it’s on. Mostly I’ve enjoyed the creative process, though – from the very beginning it’s been an artist’s dream. We began in a bubble, but we’ve been able to go with our instincts which has been really liberating. I’d also say that the getting here and getting to play to this audience every night. The play is structured, but there are elements within it that can change every night, depending on how I feel every night, and I love playing the audience back and forth. I also love the comedy, that’s definitely in the top 3 bits that I love. When I’m on stage I love playing the comedy because it’s so much fun.

 

What would you say was the most challenging aspect of the play’s creation?
It was a combination [of things] actually, because the play is quite unique in its structure, and so I had to battle some insecurities that I had about writing this piece. I’d also never made anything like it before, so it’s not tried and tested and that was intimidating. In many ways, though, the actual subject matter was the most challenging part; I’m putting my life on stage, and I’ve been quite a private person. I’d never put myself on stage before, and to do that, to put [my life] on stage was quite intimidating but it’s also been really rewarding.

You’ve spoken candidly about the gentrification that you’ve seen taking place as you’ve grown up in London, do you hope that this play can raise awareness of this to a wider audience?
Yeah (sic) definitely. I hope that as an artist I can shed some light on it and open a discussion about it. I think one of the jobs of the artist is to bring something that’s in the dark, into the light, and so that’s what I’ve done. I don’t think the play is answering any questions, I think it’s organising ideas and looking at what’s happening. Gentrification has happened the world over and will continue to, but it leaves a lot of people feeling displaced and, in a way, homeless. It erases people, and it erases their culture. There’s many ways of looking at it, though, and we do that in the play, and we laugh about it too. Half the time [of the play], we’re laughing at a serious matter. You know, one of my favourite books ‘Not Without Laughter’ [by Langston Hughes] deals with some serious issues, but does so in a way that inspires people to see the best of a situation. That’s what I wanted to do [with Misty]: say “let’s look at this” and explore ways to cope with it, but not without laughter.

When you were writing the play, did you consider your audience? Did you hope that you would attract a new audience to theatre?
Yeah, it was considered. The theatre wasn’t somewhere that I’d always felt welcome growing up in London, and I thought Misty was an opportunity to open [theatre] to other audiences. I didn’t exactly step out to do that, I think it’s just the kind of work that I create. I don’t write or create art for any one person, it’s inclusive. I look out every night and see so much diversity in the audiences and that’s what I want. That’s my London. We always knew Misty had the capacity to do that. All the extra marketing and press that we did was just to make sure that those audiences knew that they were included.

 

You’ve got an upcoming show at The Old Vic, can we expect more Misty-like shows after that?
Well you can expect some more work from me. It might be Misty-esque just because it’s going to be my play, but I don’t know. I’m really focused on telling the stories that I want to tell. I’m constantly trying to find new stories that I want to tell and that I think people need to hear. I love seeing stories and telling stories with people that are misrepresented or under represented. I think more diversity is definitely needed [in the West End].

Do you hope that Misty will be the beginning of a more culturally and racially diverse West End?
It could be. I hope it will be. I think it will help to open doors. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for people before me and [the West End] is getting better. We’ve got Kwame [Kwei-Armah] over at the Young Vic, for example, and others on their way up. I hope [Misty] opens more doors for creators and for people looking to make less mainstream work. The nature of the play in itself isn’t what usually would makes it into the West End, so I hope it changes what people think will make a successful West End show.

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Still haven’t seen the smash-hit sensation that is Misty? Book your tickets now and get a free seat upgrade* here!

★★★★ ‘Arinzé Kene is blazingly charismatic’ (Evening Standard)
★★★★ ‘Inspiringly individualistic’ (Daily Telegraph)
★★★★ ‘This firecracker of a show arrives with a bang in the West End’ (Metro)

With thanks to Arinzé Kene.
*Upgrade offer ends 17th November

London Theatre Weekly News Round-up: five-star openings, critically acclaimed transfers and more!

This week we’ve got so many openings and transfers to announce, it feels like Christmas came early! We’ve also got casting news for the UK & Ireland tour of Les Misérables. Read on!

Marianne Elliot’s Company is quickly racking up four- and five-star reviews after its opening on Wednesday. Critics are calling it “glorious,” “heavenly,” and a “tour de force reworking” of Sondheim’s 1970 musical. No surprise that it’s now extended to 30 March 2019.

Critics are equally impressed with The Inheritance, which opened last Saturday. It’s already been described as “a minor masterpiece” and “a work of rare grace, truth and beauty to make E.M. Forster proud.” It seems to be getting five-star reviews all around. You can read our review here.

Production still from The Inheritance London
The Inheritance

The National Theatre production of The Lehman Trilogy will transfer to the West End. Starring Simon Russell Beale, Adam Godley and Ben Miles, the play tells the story of financial services firm The Lehman Brothers: chronicling its founding, rise, and ultimate collapse in 2008. Sam Mendes (The Ferryman) directs, with the National Theatre cast reprising their roles. The Lehman Brothers opens at the Piccadilly Theatre 11 May 2019, with tickets on sale this November.

Aspects of Love will transfer to the West End from Hope Mill Theatre. After a critically acclaimed run in Manchester, Aspects of Love will visit the Southwark Playhouse from 7 January to 9 February 2019. It’s especially apt since 2019 will mark the show’s 30th birthday. This production of the musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Don Black and Charles Hart will star many of the original Hope Mill Theatre cast members, including Kelly Price, Felix Mosse, Jerome Pradon, Minal Patel and Eleanor Walsh as Jenny Dillingham. Jonathan O’Boyle directs.

The 50th anniversary production of Arthur Miller’s The Price will transfer to the West End in early 2019. David Suchet and Brendan Coyle will reprise their roles from the Bath production, with Adrian Lukis and Sara Stewart joining them. The Price will play Wyndham’s Theatre from 5 February to 27 April. Tickets are on sale now.

Full casting is announced for the UK & Ireland tour of Les Misérables! OK, OK, we know it’s not London theatre, but it’s still pretty exciting. Joining Killian Donnelly as Jean Valjean will be Nic Greenshields (Javert), Katie Hall (Fantine), Martin Ball (Thénardier), Sophie-Louis Dann (Madame Thénardier), Harry Apps (Marius), Tegan Bannister (Eponine), Will Richardson (Enjolras), and Bronwen Hanson (Cosette).

headshots of Killian Donnelly, Katie Hall, and Nic Greenshields
Killian Donnelly, Katie Hall and Nic Greenshields will star in the UK & Ireland tour of Les Miserables

Catherine Tate is bringing her live show to the West End. The actress and comedian will play seven shows at the Wyndham’s Theatre in January, adapting her hit TV show for the London stage. She recently played sold out tours in Australia and New Zealand–and tickets for the London run are already on sale!

The Rubenstein Kiss gets its first London revival in March 2019. James Phillips’ multi-award winning play will run for four weeks at Southwark Playhouse, starting 14 March. Joe Harmston will direct this 1950s drama inspired by the true story of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg. The original production ran in 2005.

Phyllis Logan (Mrs. Hughes in Downton Abbey) will star in the West End transfer of SwitzerlandWritten by Joanna Murray-Smith, the play focuses on novelist Patricia Highsmith (author of Strangers on a Train and The Price of Salt), as she seeks seclusion in the Swiss Alps. It opens at the Ambassadors Theatre 10 November after a UK premiere in Bath.

Top 10 classic Only Fools & Horses moments

In case you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t heard, Only Fools & Horses, the much-loved television show, will be making its way to London’s West End in 2019, reimagined as a musical. With so much excitement surrounding this announcement, we’ve decided to take a trip down memory lane, and have rounded up our top 10 all time favourite moments from the classic BBC show.

10. Pranking Grandad
Bless Grandad and his dimwittedness! In this classic scene, Del Boy gets a bit of karma and a taste of his own medicine while scaring his dear old Grandad.

9. Blow up dolls
As if it wasn’t hilarious enough that Del Boy had managed to accidentally get his hands on a faulty stock of naughty dolls, they then also turn out to be deadly!

8. Baby names
Oh, Trigger. Perhaps one of the most simpleminded characters ever written, you can’t help but love him and his lack of sense! In one of his many classic moments, here we see him discussing Del Boy’s baby names with ‘Dave’.

7. Dave
Another classic Trigger moment takes the number 7 spot. Only Trigger, after finally being told Rodney’s real name, could still miss the mark and continue to call him Dave!

6. The Poker Game
In what could be classed as one of the most intense poker games we’ve ever witnessed, Del Boy gets one up on Boycie. Let’s be honest, it was about time that somebody put Boycie in his place!

 

5. We’re finally millionaires
Taking the number 5 spot is the moment that finally saw Del Boy and Rodney’s dreams of being millionaires come true. Of course, they celebrated in true Trotter style!

4. The Canary
Only the Trotters could find a dead canary and make the situation worse! At number four is the riotously hilarious moment that saw Del Boy forking out £50 to replace a bird he hadn’t even killed.

3. Batman & Robin
Perhaps one of the most notorious moments in British TV history, Del Boy and Rodney took to the streets as the caped crusader and his winged partner – with all the hilarious consequences that you’d expect from the Trotters.

2. The Wrong Chandelier
Just missing out on the top stop (it was a pretty tough decision) is the moment that saw Del Boy and Rodney smash a near priceless chandelier – as only they could!

1. Del falls through the bar
Of course, irrefutably taking the top spot, is the infamous moment in which Del Boy redefines ‘playing it cool’, by falling through the open bar behind him. In a move that rivals even Trigger’s stupidity, even Del Boy can’t style out the embarrassment of this moment!

What do you think of our top ten classic #OFAH moments? Sound off in the comments below! Make sure you don’t miss out on tickets to see the new musical when it lands in the West End; book tickets here.

The Lehman Trilogy to get West End transfer

Following a sold-out, critically acclaimed run at the National Theatre, the NT and Neal Street Productions’ ‘The Lehman Trilogy’ will open at the Piccadilly Theatre in May next year.

The show, which is directed by James Bond director Sam Mendes, spans three generations, 163 years and tells the captivating story of the real life American Dream. Speaking about the play, he said:

“The Lehman Trilogy was developed over three years without the constraint of a schedule, or even a destination – I was allowed time to find its form, and to build a wonderful team with which to make it […] I couldn’t be more excited to show it to New York audiences and to be extending our London life in the West End.”

What is The Lehman Trilogy about?

The year is 1844, and on a cold September morning, a young man and his two brothers arrive in New York from Bavaria, dreaming of what their lives could become. Jump forward almost two centuries, and the Lehman family has established one of America’s biggest companies, only for it to fall into bankruptcy, and trigger the largest financial crisis in history.

Returning to play the Lehman brothers in its West End staging will be Simon Russell Beale, Adam Godley and Ben Miles.

The Lehman Trilogy
Simon Russell Beale, Adam Godley and Ben Miles in The Lehman Trilogy

Tickets for the West End transfer are available from Friday 2nd November. Sign up to our newsletter and be the first to know when tickets go on sale!

 

London Theatre Weekly Round-up: Cillian Murphy returns to the London stage, Come From Away announces casting, and more!

We all come from away…but some of us come from Broadway. That’s true for Come From Away, which just announced casting for its upcoming London transfer! We’ve also got news about Cillian Murphy, Eugenius! the Musical, and more. Check it out.

Peaky Blinders actor Cillian Murphy will star in Grief is the Thing With Feathers. Enda Walsh’s adaptation of Max Porter’s award-winning novel opens at the Barbican next March. This UK premiere reunites Walsh (directing) with Murphy. Previously, the two of them worked together on Disco Pigs, Misterman and Ballyturk.

Rachel Tucker will lead the cast of Come From Away London. If you haven’t heard, the Broadway hit is coming to the UK! This award-winning production premieres in Dublin ahead of a 30 January opening at London’s Phoenix Theatre. The production will star Rachel Tucker, known for playing Elphaba in the West End production of Wicked. Joining her will be Jenna Boyd, Nathan Campbell, Clive Carter, Mary Doherty, Robert Hands, Helen Hobson, Jonathan Andrew Hume, Harry Morrison, Emma Salvo, David Shannon, Cat Simmons, Mark Dugdale, Bob Harms, Kiara Jay, Kirsty Malpass, Tania Mathurin, Alexander McMorran, Brandon Lee Sears and Jennifer Tierney. Get your tickets now!

Rachel Tucker headshot
Rachel Tucker will lead the cast of Come From Away London

Eugenius! isn’t coming to the West End after all. That’s a no-go for the Warwick Davis-produced musical about a teen comic book artist in 1980s Hollywood. The show was set to replace Foxfinder at the Ambassadors Theatre later this month, but after key investors pulled out, the show’s West End run has been cancelled. Producers aren’t giving up, though, and say they’re still working on getting a West End transfer for the show at a later date. We hope to see you soon, Eugenius! Meanwhile, if you hurry, you can still catch the show at The Other Palace until 21 October.

Bat Out of Hell will close early next year. Jim Steinman’s musical featuring songs by Meat Loaf will play its last performance 5 January at the Dominion Theatre. If you don’t want to miss out, you can get your tickets with no fees right here.

The Twilight Zone will transfer to the West End. Based on the 1960s CBS series, The Twilight Zone premiered at the Almeida Theatre in 2017. Now, it’s set to run at the Ambassadors Theatre from 19 March to 1 June 2019, with Richard Jones directing.

Production photo from The Twilight Zone London
The Twilight Zone

The sold-out Edinburgh Fringe hit Brexit makes its London premiere this month. Starring Tim Bentinck of BBC’s The Archers, the production opens at The King’s Head 30 October.

Rob Rokicki’s Monstersongs makes its UK premiere next month! With a cast that includes George Damms, Amanda Flynn, Tyrone Huntley, Cleopatra Higgins, Bradley Riches and Sinéad Wall, this unique theatrical event flips the traditional monster story on its head–inviting audiences in for a closer look at what lurks below the surface. Featuring songs by Rob Rokicki (The Lightning Thief), Monstersongs plays The Other Palace on 5 and 6 November.

The record-breaking TV series Only Fools and Horses makes a comeback on the London stage. Jim Sullivan, son of the late John Sullivan who penned the TV series, teams up with comedian Paul Whitehouse to create a brand new script based on the 80s and 90s sitcom. Whitehouse stars as Grandad, with Tom Bennett as Del Boy and Ryan Hutton as Rodney. Only Fools and Horses opens at the Theatre Royal Haymarket 9 February 2019.

Only Fools and Horses London

Full casting is announced for the London Palladium pantomime Snow White. Joining Dawn French as the Wicked Queen will be Danielle Hope (Snow White), Charlie Stemp (The Prince) and Julian Clary (The Man in the Mirror). Danielle Hope previously starred in The Wizard of Oz at the Palladium, and as Maria in a UK tour of The Sound of Music. Charlie Stemp recently made his Broadway debut in Hello, Dolly!, opposite Bette Midler (and if you didn’t hear, he’ll soon be playing Bert in Mary Poppins).

Matthew Bourne’s ROMEO AND JULIET kicks off its world premiere tour in May 2019, with a four-week long stop at Sadler’s Wells in August. This production is a contemporary reimagining of Shakespeare’s passionate love story, complete with some of the most talented young dancers in the UK.

In the meantime, don’t miss the RSC production of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, opening at the Barbican next month!

 

The Strictly Curse has struck again: the top 10 Strictly Scandals

Uh oh, looks like Seann Walsh has become the latest victim of the Strictly curse. Every year it seems another couple is broken up by their partner’s participation on the show, so we’re counting down the 10 most high-profile #StrictlyScandals that the show has generated.

10. Brendan Cole & Natasha Kaplinsky

Breandan Cole and dance partner Natasha
Copyright: BBC/Strictly Come Dancing

Throwback to the very first series of the hit show in 2004, poor Brendan was the first to fall victim to what would become known as the Strictly Curse. When partnered with BBC newsreader Natasha, rumours spiralled, claiming that the pair were becoming more than just dance partners. While Natasha denied any romance between them, Brendan actually split with his then fiancé!

9. Daisy Lowe and Bradley Wade

Daisy Lowe in Strictly Come Dancing
Photo credit: Press Association

Not all contestants who split with their partners actually ended up dating their dance partner, though. Daisy Lowe appeared on the show in 2016 and was partnered with Aljaz Skorjanec, who is pretty dreamy by all accounts. Shortly after her appearance, she announced that she has split with her then boyfriend, Bradley Wade, stating that the gruelling schedule had caused the two to drift apart.

8. Giovanni Pernice & Georgia May Foote (2015)

Georgia and Giovanni
Photo credit: BBC/Strictly Come Dancing

But let’s be honest, most of the couples split because of their partners! Coronation Street star Georgia was dating one of her co-stars when she signed up to the show and was partnered with Giovanni. Foote then split with her boyfriend, and, in spite of reports, the dancing duo continued to deny that they were a couple… until they were pictured kissing. It wasn’t to last, though, as the pair split shortly before training for the 2016 series began.

7. Pasha Kovalev & Rachel Riley

Rachel Riley in Strictly Come Dancing
Photo credit: BBC/Strictly Come Dancing

Countdown star Rachel was quite newly married when she entered the show, but split from her then husband after just 15 months. While the pair denied that Pasha was involved in the split, the dance partners then confirmed that they were dating just a few months later. In fairness, this couple seems to have made it stick; four years later and they’re still together!

6. Kristina Rihanoff & Joe Calzaghe

Joe Calzaghe and dance partner Kristina
Photo credit: BBC Press Office

It’s not only the male dancers jumping into relationships with their partners! Sparks flew between Kristina and Joe when they were partnered on the show, enough for him to split with his then girlfriend in 2009. This wasn’t to last, though, as Kristina announced that the pair had split in 2013, stating that Joe “found it difficult when I dance with other men”. Perhaps he was afraid of the Strictly curse himself!

5. Kristina Rihanoff & Ben Cohen

Ben Cohen and Kristina Rihanoff
Photo credit: BBC/Strictly Come Dancing

Clearly not one to be put off by the Strictly curse, Kristina and former rugby player Ben were paired together on the 11th series of the show. Shortly after, Cohen announced that him and his wife of 11 years were separating, only to reveal a few months later that him and Rihanoff were in a relationship. The pair welcomed their first daughter in June 2016.

4. Flavia Cacace & Matt Di Angelo

Matt Di Angelo in Strictly Come Dancing
Photo Credit: Press Association

Also not afraid to blur the line between dance partners and relationships, Flavia was paired with Eastenders star Matt in 2007. Shortly after the show ended, the pair revealed that they were dating, after Flavia split with her then boyfriend and fellow professional dancer on the show, Vincent Simone. Their romance wasn’t destined to last, as…

3. Flavia Cacace & Jimi Mistry

Flavia and Jimi on Strictly Come Dancing
Photo Credit: BBC/Strictly Come Dancing

You guessed it, the curse struck again! Rumours have circulated that Flavia in fact got with Jimi while still in a relationship with Matt, as the pair announced their split just weeks before it was revealed that she was dating her newest dance partner. This pairing was seemingly more fated, though, as the pair got married in 2013.

2. Kevin Clifton & Louise Redknapp

Louise Redknapp in Strictly 2016
Photo Credit: BBC/Strictly Come Dancing

While her partner had nothing to do with their split, Louise and her famous footie husband, Jamie were perhaps the most high-profile of victims. The Strictly curse struck the Redknapps after Louise took part in the 2016 season and rediscovered her love for performing. She has since spoken out, claiming: ‘Sometimes I felt like crying because deep down inside me this voice was screaming: “This is what I have been missing.”’ After 19 years of marriage, Jamie and Louise divorced in 2017.

1. Kevin & Karen Clifton

Strictly stars Kevin & Karen Clifton
Photo Credit: Press Association

Taking the top spot, on a more positive note, are Kevin and Karen Clifton. The pair got together and were engaged before Kevin joined the Strictly cast in 2012, but announced their split earlier this year after three years of marriage. On the upside, the pair have publicly stated that they are still very close friends, and that they will in fact be going on tour together later this year! Who says exes can’t be friends?

 

If you love Strictly like we do and want to see the incredible talents of the contestants and their partners for yourself, you can grab tickets to the Strictly Come Dancing Live Tour right here!

 

Summer & Smoke Exclusive: interview with Rebecca Frecknall

Following an immensely successful run at the Almeida Theatre, we asked ‘Summer and Smoke’ director Rebecca Frecknall how it feels to see her latest production of the play transfer to the Duke of York’s Theatre…

Your production of Tennessee Williams’ classic has achieved incredible success, when you decided to work on this play for a second time, did you imagine that it would garner such critical acclaim?
Never! If someone had told me the week I started rehearsals at the Almeida what the trajectory of this production would be I would never have believed them. I was just thrilled to have the backing and trust of the Almeida and to be able to have the opportunity to make this piece in the way that I wanted. The way it was received took me completely by surprise. I’m still pinching myself!

Was working on the play easier the second time around?
Yes in many ways. It was great to be able to go into rehearsals knowing the play so well and so intimately and with a much clearer idea of why I was doing it and what I wanted to achieve. I had such a brilliant team around me too and we very much made the show together. Obviously the stakes were much higher the second time round as this was my first big production in London and I really wanted to prove myself and make something special. The pressure can make things harder but we all loved what we were doing so it was easy to have moments of forgetting what a big deal it was for me!

You’ve said in previous interviews that you started out dreaming of acting in theatre productions, is that a dream that we’re ever likely to see you revisit?
No! Definitely not. Honestly, the first time I ever directed something (it was in my first term of university) I knew that was what I was built for. I suppose I had wanted to be an actor when I was younger because I loved plays and the theatre so much and I maybe confused the two. It’s definitely the creating that I’m addicted to, I’ll leave the acting to the experts and stay in awe of them.

This is the first show that you’ve directed and taken to the West End – how does it feel?
Unreal. I honestly don’t think it’ll really sink in that it’s transferring to the West End until it opens and people (hopefully) start turning up to see it!

Your love for theatre started with musicals, could we ever see you working on or directing one?
I would really love to direct a musical one day. I was a complete musicals nut when I was a teenager and I think I probably owe it to my younger self.

Do you have any particular plays that you dream of directing?
Yes of course, I’d love to do more of Tennessee Williams’ work and I also love the plays of Eugene O’Neil and Arthur Miller. I’d love to do a Greek tragedy one day, too, and a Chekhov – the ‘big’ plays I grew up with I suppose. There are of course new playwrights I’d love to work with too. I hugely admire the work of Alice Birch and Cordelia Lynn and think they’re both making important, sophisticated work.

You’ve commented before on the lack of female presence in theatre, did this affect the direction that you took with the production at all, particularly with the character of Alma?
I suppose I am often drawn to plays that have female protagonists. I don’t think that’s an active choice, more a subconscious attraction. In the case of Summer and Smoke I certainly angled my production towards Alma. I wanted the audience to experience the play from her point of view, to be able to take them in and out of her head. I don’t, however, think that Alma’s experiences in the play are specifically female. Lots of young men who saw the production at the Almeida really saw themselves in her.

Was it hard to adapt a play that was written in the 1940s for a modern audience, or did you find that a lot of the themes are still prominent today?
I just really wanted us to focus on the characters and to take away all the trappings and signifiers of the time in which the play was written and set (it’s set in 1916). I didn’t want the audience to be able to take any assumptions about what a ‘Tennessee Williams’ play is into their experience of watching the production either. I think that the fact that we were able to create such an open and exposed production and that people were moved by it is a testament to the fact that Williams’ themes transcend the time in which the play was written.

Do you think if you were to direct the play again in another 5 or 6 years your interpretation or direction would have changed again?
I hope so. I think that as artists we change with time, experience and influence, and therefore the work we make inevitably evolves, changes and hopefully improves! In my 20s I read this play in a particular way. In my 30s this current production is my answer to it. In my 40s…who knows? I’m sure it would speak to me differently.

Summer and Smoke opens next month (November 10th) for a strictly limited engagement. You can get your tickets to the sultry sensation right here!

 

London Theatre Weekly Round-up: Dear Evan Hansen confirmed for London; return of Six, Hair, and Peter Pan!

This week, we’ve got returns, departures, and some exciting casting details–plus more news about the London run of Dear Evan Hansen! Catch up on all the latest in your weekly London theatre round-up.

Alexander Vlahos, of Versailles (Philippe, Duke of Orleans) and Merlin (Mordred), will star as Captain Hook in the revival of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan at the Park Theatre. Nickcolia King-N’Da stars as Peter Pan, the boy who refuses to grow up. Directed by Jonathan O’Boyle, this production will open in December, just in time for a magical Christmas.

It’s official: Dear Evan Hansen is coming to the West End. The show by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, currently on Broadway, will open at the Noel Coward Theatre next autumn. Casting hasn’t been announced yet, but we know that the Broadway creative team will carry over. Producer Stacey Minich says: “Our show is very much about connection and we are all looking forward to connecting London audiences to the music and story of Dear Evan Hansen.”

Fame the Musical announces the first casting news for its West End transfer. Hollyoaks star Jorgie Porter, currently playing Iris Kelly in Fame’s touring production, will reprise her role–making her West End debut. Joining her will be Keith Jack and soul singer Mica Paris. Fame comes to London in September 2019. Watch the trailer below!

Six returns to the West End! The sold-out Edinburgh Fringe show Six–a pop musical about the wives of King Henry VIII–returns to the West End in January for an open ended run. Tickets go on sale today.

Foxfinder is out–and Eugenius! is in. The first, Dawn King’s play about a professional fox hunter, is set to close early after mixed reviews. In other words, if you want to see Game of Thrones star Iwan Rheon onstage, you’ve now only got until 20 October!

After that, Eugenius! The Musical will take Foxfinder‘s place at the Ambassadors Theatre. This 80s-inspired musical about a teen comic book artist, written by Ben Adams and Chris Wilkins and produced by Warwick Davis, is currently running at The Other Palace, and will transfer to the Ambassadors 27 October.

Eugenius! the Musical full company
Eugenius! the Musical. Photo by Scott Rylander.

Cate Blanchett will make her National Theatre debut in When We Have Sufficiently Tortured Each Other, starring opposite Game of Thrones actor Stephen Dillane. And tickets will not be easy to come by. You’ll have to enter a lottery just to get the chance to buy tickets, and if you win, you have about 24 hours in which to buy tickets. The ticket ballot opens at noon on 22 November, and closes 29 November. Best of luck!

Speaking of the National Theatre, have you heard about their new high-tech “smart caption” glasses? They allow audience members to see closed captions while watching a production, which means they no longer have to look away from the action. In development since 2014, these glasses are finally available for use at National Theatre productions.

The National Theatre also just announced its new season: which includes Tartuffe, The Three Sisters, Peter Gynt, As You Like It, the European premiere of The Antipodes, and the world premiere of Small Island (adapted from Andrea Levy’s award-winning novel).

Let the sunshine in! Because Hair is returning to the UK! The hippie rock musical kicks off its 50th anniversary run in March 2019 at the New Wimbledon Theatre. After that, it will tour a number of UK cities, including Manchester, Edinburgh, and Cardiff. And we hear the producers are considering offering a few “clothing optional” performances. More on that later….

Speaking of…um…getting naked…the line up for West End Bares is announced! Supporting The Make a Difference Trust, the event will take place 28 October at the Shaftesbury Theatre. Tom Allen and Eva Noblezada will host, with the line up including:

Moya Angela (Dreamgirls), Michelle Antrobus (Chicago), Natasha Barnes (Funny Girl), Luke Baker (Everybody’s Talking About Jamie), Laura Baldwin (Eugenius!), Matt Croke (Aladdin), Laura Emmitt (Wicked), Michelle Francis (School of Rock), Jordan Fox (Kinky Boots), Candace Furbert (Tina) and Brennyn Lark (Dreamgirls), John McCrea (Everybody’s Talking About Jamie), Christina Modestou (Little Shop of Horrors), Cedric Neal (Motown The Musical), Jay Perry (Motown The Musical), Jon Robyns (Hamilton), Lucie Shorthouse (Everybody’s Talking About Jamie), Danielle Steers (Bat Out Of Hell), Anna Van Ruiten (Motown The Musical) and Anna Woodside (Carousel).

London Theatre Weekly Round-Up: Tickets on sale for Waitress, casting for Nativity!, Hamilton, and more!

This week, we’ve got casting news galore, an exciting announcement about Waitress, and a nod to the lieutenant of Inishmore…we mean Aidan Turner. It’s all here in your weekly news round-up.

Have your pie and eat it, too! Tickets are now on sale for Sara Bareilles’ smash hit Waitress! It’s a long-awaited event, so don’t wait around for tickets to sell out….

As Hamilton prepares for its second year in the West End, new cast members have been announced! Sifiso Mazibuko will play Aaron Burr starting 3 December, with Courtney-Mae Briggs playing Peggy Schuyler and Maria Reynolds, Allyson Ava-Brown playing Angelica Schuyler, Dom Hartley-Harris playing George Washington, and Jon Robyns playing King George. Other new cast members include Robson Broad, Lisa Darnell, Joe Griffiths-Brown, Sinead Long, Emile Ruddock and Ellena Vincent. Current cast members Jam Westman (Alexander Hamilton) and Rachelle Ann Go (Eliza Schuyler) will remain.

Stage and screen actor Julian Ovenden (Downton Abbey) will play Bill in the upcoming premiere of All About Eve. He joins a cast that (so far) includes Gillian Anderson, Lily James, Monica Dolan, Sheila Reid, and Rhasdan Stone.

Meanwhile, the upcoming production of Nativity! the Musical is looking more and more like a family affair. After Danny Dyer joined the cast last week, his daughter Dani Dyer (we’re already confused) is now following in his footsteps. She’ll also star in the musical! Dani Dyer recently won fame (and love) when she appeared on and won the fourth series of Love Island.

Nativity! The Musical London

We also have further casting for Pinter at the Pinter. Tom Edden will join the cast of Landscape, A Kind of Alaska, and Monologue. In Moonlight and Night School, recently announced cast members include Bríd Brennan, Janie Dee, Robert Glenister, Isis Hainsworth, Peter Polycarpou, Dwane Walcott, and Al Weaver. Meanwhile, Katherine Kingsley and Eleanor Matsuura round out the cast of Party-Time and Celebration, with John Heffernan leading the cast of A Slight Ache. OK, whew. We think that’s everyone.

In other casting news, we now know the full cast joining Sharon D. Clarke in the West End transfer of Tony Kushner’s Caroline, or Change. The line-up is: Naana Agyei-Ampadu, Keisha Amponsa Banson, Alastair Brookshaw, Me’sha Bryan, Angela Caesar, Dujonna Gift-Simms, Sue Kelvin, Teddy Kempner, Ako Mitchell, Abiona Omonua, Vincent Pirillo, Tanisha Spring and Lauren Ward with Cassiopeia Berkeley-Agyepong, Zalika Henry, Laura Medforth, Timothy Quinlan and Teddy Wills. Plus, nine young performers will alternate the roles of Noah, Jackie, and Joe.

Photo of Sharon D. Clarke in Caroline, or Change
Sharon D. Clarke in Caroline, or Change. Photo by Alastair Muir.

Any Wicked fans out there (we’re told there’s a lot) will be happy to know they can celebrate the musical’s 12th birthday this week! (The official date was Thursday, 27 September). Sounds like a great opportunity for a party–or maybe a special trip to Oz?

Congrats to Aidan Turner! The Poldark star won The Stage Debut Award on Sunday, beating out actors like Bryan Cranston and Kelli O’Hara. Quite an accomplishment! Other West End winners of the night included Amara Okereke (best actress in a musical for her role as Cosette in Les Misérables), and Andrew Thompson (best writer for his play In Event of Moone Disaster).

From The Box Office Reviews: Heathers The Musical

Following a hugely successful run at The Other Palace, Heathers The Musical officially opened on the West End last week. Rave reviews have poured in for the show, hailing it as ‘sheer, joyful exuberance’ (City AM) and praising Carrie Hope Fletcher as ‘dazzling’ (The Stage). Here at From The Box Office, we couldn’t agree more…

Based on the 1980s cult classic, Heathers The Musical is your typical story of a high school nobody who becomes a somebody under the wings of the popular girls. It’s also the classic story of (spoiler alert) boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, boy turns out to be a murderous psychopath who wants to blow up a school… okay, so not exactly your typical high school drama. It is JD’s psychotic tendencies that, in fact, make this show such a wildly enjoyable experience – among other things, of course.

Heathers The Musical

In terms of music and vocals, this production is stunning. Carrie Hope Fletcher delivers a powerhouse performance and Jamie Muscato is her perfect opposite; Seventeen may just be one of the greatest musical duets I have heard in recent musicals! With a score that features songs such as Candy Store and My Dead Gay Son (yes, you read that right), this show is guaranteed to deliver laughs while also providing poignant moments.

This is not simply a musical that stands on its songs, though. The characterisation is, in fact, what makes the show work as an overall production. Each element, the comedy, the stunning vocals, the film references, would all be useless if you couldn’t relate to the characters – but oh, how you can. While they begin as your stereotypical high school students, their problems soon come to the forefront. If anything, Seventeen highlights just how much pressure and heartache these students have to deal with at a young age, when they should be enjoying what will be their glory years.

In short, if you’re looking for a feel-good, riotously hilarious yet touching, sing-your-heart-out musical experience, you’ll more than find it with Heathers. (Note: it also doesn’t hurt that the high school hunks walk around the stage half naked for the majority of the show). This is a musical that ticks all boxes and shouldn’t be missed – we only wish it were going to be in the West End for longer!

 

Heathers The Musical ends on Saturday November 24th. If you don’t want to miss out, book now and pay zero fees on selected tickets here! (Book by 17th October) 

The Wider Earth: exclusive interview with David Morton

It’s the story that shaped not only a young man’s life, but the understanding of life as we now know it. Now, Charles Darwin’s inspiring journey will be put on stage for all to see in the first show of its kind at the Natural History Museum. We asked playwright David Morton for all of the exciting details, ahead of the production’s historic opening on Tuesday 2nd October…

The Wider Earth tells the story of Darwin’s voyage on HMS Beagle. How did that voyage affect the rest of his life and work?
On 25 October 1831, a 22-year-old Charles Darwin boarded a ship preparing for a voyage around the world. What he saw on the five-year voyage that followed led him to think deeply about the natural world, and to question received opinion about its origins. He also collected specimens – thousands of them – and these specimens, studied in the field and on his return to England, provided vital evidence in support of his ideas, especially on the theory of evolution.

Since this play is based on a real, historical voyage, how did you find the balance between giving a historically true account and telling a good story?
To strike the balance we’ve tried to include nothing in the story that doesn’t at least have some reference to actual events. There are definitely some leaps of imagination to heighten the drama but we’ve tried to keep true to the memories of the characters and the contributions they all made.

Was there any part of the writing or development process that you found especially challenging?
The most challenging part was trying to work out which parts of the history to use. The records of the voyage are so rich with information that it was hard not to include everything.

What do you think will surprise audiences most about the Darwin you’re presenting versus the Darwin they think they know?
In the show we try and capture Darwin’s energy, his drive, and his excitement. We wanted to show the Darwin behind the long grey beard, and paint a portrait of Charles as the young man.

In your opinion, what do puppets add to the story (or to theatre in general)?
The process of bringing a puppet to life on stage takes an incredible degree of commitment and discipline. Unlike an actor who spends a rehearsal period developing a character, a puppet has to first learn how to be alive before we can even start to wonder as to what its character might be. Ultimately, the process isn’t complete until the imagination of an audience turns the movement cues that we give into the illusion of life. I think that puppets deepen the possibilities of storytelling in theatre, and can provoke a real sense of wonder in an audience.

Of the 30 puppets featured in this production, do you have a favourite?
The Galapagos tortoise! And the flightless cormorant.

the-wider-earth-triplet-three-NUlH

Since it’s a bit unconventional to stage a play in the Museum, have there been any logistical challenges?
Converting the Jerwood Gallery into a theatre for the first time has been a challenge, but the outcome is absolutely worth it!

What has it been like working with the Museum’s scientists?
Working with Professor Adrian Lister has been an absolute honour. To receive input into the story from someone who has lived and breathed everything Darwinian for so long has allowed the script to flourish. Adrian has an amazing sense of Charles as a person, and has been just as excited as us about making the story fresh, and bringing the voyage to life.

There are so many incredible and unique aspects to this production: its staging in the Natural History Museum, its 30 hand-made puppets, its blending of animations and live performance. What are you most excited to share with audiences?
The experience of the whole thing. I think what’s so special about this work is the integration of the elements. There’s so much to look at, and the world of the play is so rich. Also the amazing cast, their dedication to the characters and the story has been just awe inspiring and I’m so grateful to the whole team.

If you’re as excited as we are for this groundbreaking new production you can book tickets now! Watch the trailer below:

 

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London Theatre Weekly Round-up: Michelle Visage joins cast of ‘Jamie,’ ‘Harry Potter’ releases album, ‘Waitress’ approaches, and more!

This week, things are heating up on the London theatre scene. We’ve got exciting new casting announcements for some of the West End’s biggest shows, plus some Harry Potter magic and a new season at the Almeida!

Michelle Visage, of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Ireland’s Got Talent, and Celebrity Big Brother, will join the cast of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie in her West End debut next month. Starting 18 October, she’ll play Miss Hedge. We can’t wait!

The upcoming production of All About Eve will star Gillian Anderson and Lily James. Directed by Ivo van Hove, it’s an adaptation of the 1950 film about a leading actress and her young fan. All About Eve runs at the Noel Coward Theatre from 2 February to 11 May. Tickets go on sale next Friday!

David Thaxton (Passion, Les Misérables) is soon to be royalty. He’ll play King Arthur in the upcoming concert performance of Camelot at the London Palladium. Joining him as the beautiful Queen Guenevere will be Savannah Steveneson (Wicked), with opera star Charles Rice as Sir Lancelot. Don’t miss this one, brief, shining moment on 6 October!

Laura Tyrer (Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Spamalot, Ruthless!) steps into the role of Velma Kelly! She’ll join the London cast of Chicago from 24 September to 6 October. But wait, there’s more…. Tyrer’s audition will be shown on TV as part of new ITV series The Big Audition.

In September of next year, the 30th anniversary touring production of Fame, directed by Nick Winston, will touch down at London’s Peacock Theatre. The last time Fame played in the West End was back in 2007.

Production shot from Fame the Musical
Production shot from Fame‘s UK tour. Photo by Tristram Kenton.

Waitress‘ West End arrival is getting closer all the time: the Sara Bareilles musical will premiere at the Adelphi Theatre in February. Tickets go on sale this autumn–which is almost upon us!

This November, Seussical the Musical opens at Southwark Playhouse. And we’ve got casting! Marc Pickering stars as the Cat in the Hat, with Scott Paide as Horton the Elephant and Amy Perry as Gertrude McFuzz. Other cast members inclue Katie Paine, Ngozi Ugoh, Anna Barnes, Daisy Steere, Adam Dawson, Robbie Fell, Rhys Benjamin, Marianna Neofitou, and Sarah Spence. James Tobias directs.

Channing Tatum’s upcoming production of Magic Mike Live is now fully cast. It will feature Samantha Baines, Jake Brewer, Harry Carter, Pip Hersee, Sophie Linder-Lee, Jack Manley, David Morgan, Ross Sands, Dean Stewart, Manny Tsakanika, Aaron Daniel Ralph, Antonio Donadio , Sebastián Melo Taveira, Maxwell Trengove, and Brian Siregar.

This Saturday, The Woman in Black celebrates its 12,000th performance. Next June, it will celebrate its 30th anniversary in the West End.

If you feel magic in the air, it’s probably because Harry Potter and the Cursed Child just released a new block of tickets! You can now book through 28 July 2019.

And speaking of Harry Potter, you’ll be able to buy the stage play’s magical soundtrack, composed and performed by Imogen Heap, on 2 November.

Album cover for Music of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

The Almedia Theatre has announced a new season, including a Shakespeare (The Tragedy of King Richard the Second starring Simon Russell Beale), a Chekhov (Three Sisters starring Patsy Ferran and Pearl Chanda), and three new plays. Rupert Goold will direct Anne Washburn’s Shipwreck (a “nightmarish comedy” about Donald Trump) and David Farr’s The Hunt. Tinuke Craig will direct a version of Maxim Gorky’s Vassa Zheleznova.

Tina – The Tina Turner Musical extends! Starting Monday, you can book tickets to 20 July 2019.

London Theatre Weekly Round-Up: Mary Poppins to return, Aladdin to close, Mamma Mia to extend, and more!

Grab your magic umbrella, because you’re going to want to fly to the Prince Edward Theatre when you hear the news for this week! It’s all here in your regular London theatre round-up.

Mary Poppins is coming home! After her UK tour with the musical, Zizi Strallen will step into the practically perfect role once again in fall of 2019, with Charlie Stemp of Broadway’s Hello, Dolly! as Bert.

The two actors gushed about their excitement on Twitter:

So excited!!!! …… can’t wait to be this wonderful, magical woman again. #marypoppins https://t.co/ys9VOnhdQ1

— Zizi Strallen (@ZiziStrallen)

Aladdin, currently playing the Prince Edward Theatre, is set to close 31 August 2019, after a run of more than three years.

The upcoming production of Arthur Miller’s All My Sons at the Old Vic will star Sally Field, Bill Pullman, Colin Morgan, and Jenna Coleman. We are not ready for this cast.

Amber Davies of Love Island will make her West End debut in the Dolly Parton musical 9 to 5. Based on the 1980 film, the musical will also star Louise Redknapp, Brian Conley, and Natalie McQueen. The production opens at the Savoy Theatre this January. Watch the trailer below!

Last week we announced that long-time Chicago star Denise Van Outen will return to the West End to play Velma Kelly. Don’t worry, she’s still coming! …Just later than expected. Apparently, Van Outen sustained a heel fracture while training for her upcoming role. She appears to be fine, and even tweeted about her injury, saying it was “typical,” but she won’t be able to join the production at the scheduled time. Her replacement will be announced soon, as will Van Outen’s new performance dates.

Mamma Mia! extends! Again! The ABBA smash hit is now booking until 14 September 2019–which means the show will celebrate its 20th birthday next April.

Nathan Amzi joins the cast of Heathers the Musical! He’ll be playing Big Bud Dean and Coach Ripper until 24 November. Amzi recently appeared in Prom Queen, Aladdin, and In the Heights. You might also remember him from The Voice back in 2014.

Lara Pulver (Sherlock, Spooks) and Stephen Mangan join the cast of Guys and Dolls in concert at the Royal Albert Hall. Pulver, who won an Olivier Award for her performance in Gypsy, will play the leading role of Sarah Brown. Mangan, who recently performed in Harold Pinter’s The Birthday Party, will play the narrator. Also joining the cast is Sharon D. Clarke (Caroline, or Change) and Paul Nicholas.

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The Play That Goes Wrong celebrates its fourth birthday on the West End–and announces a new booking period! Tickets are now on sale until 27 October 2019.

Anyone ready for Christmas yet? Simon Callow will return this year to perform his one-man version of A Christmas Carol at the Arts Theatre in December.

Meanwhile, Danny Dyer and Jo Brand will take the lead in Nativity! the Musical at the Eventim Apollo this holiday season. The show will also star Simon Lipkin and Ashleigh Gray.

Casual reminder that you can now order the original West End cast recording of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie on BroadwayRecords.com. You’re welcome.

Finally, we’d be remiss if we didn’t note the passing of Broadway and West End performer Marin Mazzie this week. Mazzie was a three-time Tony Award nominee who  originated roles in Ragtime and Passion and starred in shows like Kiss Me, Kate, Next to Normal, and The King and I. She will be missed.

From The Box Office Reviews: Missing at The Battersea Arts Centre

After its opening at The Battersea Arts Centre in 2015, the run of Gecko’s physical theatre production, Missing, was interrupted when a fire destroyed the iconic venue’s Grand Hall. After repairs and renovations, the show has been reintroduced as the opening of the centre’s Phoenix Season, and what an opening it is…

Missing is certainly not your average piece of theatre. The distinct lack of dialogue may initially intimidate viewers that do not usually expose themselves to such pieces, but I urge you to see it. What this show does so well is to communicate a kaleidoscope of emotions in the most human way possible: the movements of the cast, performed in an intricate and complex choreography for the duration of the show, express everything you need to know, and are even almost primal at parts. The cast, through their physicality, do not just tell you the story of Lily, a woman emotionally damaged by the breakdown of her parents’ marriage, but show you it and, more importantly, present it to you in a way that makes you feel her pain for yourself.

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The choreography and composition of this production is nothing short of mesmerising. There is not a single moment that does not demand your full attention, no movement wasted, and no action without significance or consequence. There is a risk, I think, when relying heavily on physical theatre to express a story such as this one, that you will lose the audience’s attention or fascination as the show goes on. That simply doesn’t occur with Missing. Before a sequence has the chance to become uninteresting, it is interrupted, sometimes only momentarily, with a flashback, or the glimmer of a memory from Lily’s childhood, and then snapped back into the present moment or into a new sequence.

The little dialogue that is present in the piece is spoken in a range of European languages, which, for me at least, merely reiterates the universality of the emotions that are evoked by the actors’ movements. You do not need to understand the words that they are saying, for their movements and how they speak communicate to you more than the words themselves could anyway.

While this kind of production may not appeal to every kind of theatre fan, it is the kind of show that is unmissable merely for what it achieves and how it does it. If you go only to appreciate the intricacy of the movements and experience the emotions that it evokes, Missing is guaranteed to leave a lasting impression.

 

Book your tickets to Battersea Art Centre’s Phoenix Season here

 

London Theatre Weekly Round-up: Thriller Live gala, more casting for True West, returning Chicago star, and more!

This week’s news is simply thrilling! Meet the next actress to join Chicago‘s lively cast, find out which celebrities will be hosting Thriller‘s celebratory gala performance, and get casting updates for True West and Nine Night.

Denise Van Outen has played Roxie Hart on both the West End and Broadway, so starting 24 September, she’ll be stepping into the current West End production of Chicago as… Velma Kelly. (As previously announced, Alexandra Burke will play Roxie.) Van Outen’s other stage credits include Legally Blonde, Rent, and Tell Me On a Sunday. She’s currently one of the judges for Ireland’s Got Talent.

Next week, Thriller Live will see some celebrity action! In honor of the show’s 4000th performance, Peter Andre, Russell Kane, Jon Culshaw, and Kieran Alleyne (an original Thriller cast member) will join the production for a special gala performance on 12 September. Ticket sales will support The Prince’s Trust.

Joining Kit Harington and Johnny Flynn in True West at the Vaudeville Theatre will be Madeleine Potter and Donald Sage Mackay. Potter is a seasoned Broadway and West End actor, recently appearing in An Ideal Husband at the National Theatre and Broken Glass at the Tricycle Theatre. She’s also held a number of TV and film roles. Mackay is best known for his roles on the TV shows Modern Family and Deep State.

We also have casting for the upcoming Nine Night! Stepping in to play Lorraine will be none other than the writer herself: Natasha Gordon. Joining her will be veteran actors Oliver Alvin-Wilson, Michelle Greenidge, Hattie Ladbury, Rebekah Murrell, Cecilia Noble, and Karl Collins.

In case you haven’t heard, The Old Vic is celebrating its 200 year anniversary! And what better way to celebrate than with a collection of stamps? OK, but hear us out: these stamps are pretty cool.

The Old Vic 200 anniversary stamps

They celebrate some of the landmark performances The Old Vic has seen over its two-century existence. Featured actors include Maggie Smith, Laurence Olivier, Judi Dench, and Richard Burton. For all you collectors of theatre paraphernalia out there (or just all you collectors of postage stamps), you can buy a pack through The Royal Mail.

Casting is announced for Olivier Award winner James Graham’s (Quiz, Ink) new play Sketching, opening at Wilton’s Music Hall later this month. The cast will include Nav Sidhu, Penny Layden, Samuel James, Sean Michael Verey, and Sophie Wu. A play that pays homage to Charles Dickens’ Sketches by Boz, Sketching covers 24 hours of London life–and a few of the stories that overlap in that time. In fact, though James Graham is the play’s lead writer, Sketching is multi-authored, with a creative team of eight emerging writers collaborating with Graham.

Banner for James Graham's Sketching

The Lyric Hammersmith has announced its new season (the last under artistic director Sean Holmes). The line-up of plays will include Leave to Remain: a new piece by Matt Jones, with songs by Bloc Party frontman Kele Okereke. Tyrone Huntley (Jesus Christ Superstar) will star in this premiere about a young gay couple facing an uncertain future.

Ghost Stories, by Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson, will return to the Lyric Hammersmith after playing on the international stage and screen (it was recently made into a movie starring Martin Freeman). Additionally, the Lyric Hammersmith will host revivals of The Animals and Children Took to the Streets and Dead Dog in a Suitcase (and other love songs).

The House on Cold Hill–a new play from multi-million selling author Peter James–will launch a UK tour in January, starring BAFTA-nominated actor Joe McFadden. McFadden is best known for his television roles in Holby City and Heartbeat, and as the winner of BBC1’s 2017 Strictly Come Dancing. Allegedly, The House on Cold Hill is based on the author’s own experience in a haunted house–which makes it that much spookier.

And next year, Rachel O’Riordan will take over as artistic director of the Lyric Hammersmith. O’Riordan is an Olivier Award-winning director and was on TheStage100’s 2017 list of the most influential people in UK Theatre. We can’t wait to see what she does!