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Firstly, happy 25th birthday, Les Misérables!
Yes, 2010 marks the musical’s quarter-century in London. If you haven’t seen it yet and you love big, sweeping, emotional, epic musicals, I can’t recommend Les Misérables enough. It’s one of my top 10 stage musicals of all time..
Talking of big sweeping musicals, congratulations to Wicked, which enjoyed its most successful year to date, last year. The show, at London’s Apollo Victoria Theatre grossed an incredible £27,333,991 at the box office. Wow.
More musical news comes in the form of Heart FM DJ and CBBC’s Toby Anstis joining the cast of Grease on 25 January. This will be Toby’s West End stage debut. I remember him best as an occupant of The Broom Cupboard; now he presents an early morning radio show on Heart. He’ll be playing Teen Angel alongside Siobhan Dillon as Sandy and Noel Sullivan as Danny. (Incidentally, anyone spot Noel’s strange silent cameo in Gavin & Stacey this Christmas?!)
For those of you who prefer plays to musicals, exciting news from the Royal Shakespeare Company this week. The wonderful Jeremy Irons and the brilliant Siobhan Redmond are returning to the Royal Shakespeare Company this spring to appear in new plays.
Jeremy Irons (who was excellent when I saw him at the National in Never So Good a couple of years ago) rejoins the RSC after 23 years to star in The Gods Weep, a play about a corporate mogul who decides to split his power among his subordinates, unleashing a bloody struggle. Sounds like a modern-day King Lear to me?
Siobhan Redmond (Shona Spurtle in The High Life to you and me) leads the cast in David Grieg’s Dunsinane, a drama following one man’s attempt to restore peace to a country ravaged by war following the murder of Macbeth.
And some long-range news. If you’re Shakespeare-obsessed, like me, you’ll love the sound of this: Shakespeare’s Kings & Westminster Abbey. If you saw any of the RSC’s spectacular Histories Cycle, here’s your chance to see some more, inside Westminster Abbey:
Shakespeare’s Kings and Westminster Abbey tells the story of six kings of England, all linked with Westminster Abbey. RSC actors from the History Plays will take part in five atmospheric evenings at the Abbey depicting the aftermath of Edward III and the Hundred Years War, to the accession of Henry VII, after Richard III was killed at the Battle of Bosworth Field. Also taking part are Lecturer Dr Nicholas Sagovsky, Canon Theologian at the Abbey and the Westminster Abbey Choir.
Doesn’t that make your Shakespeare/History geek gene tingle? Perhaps it’s just me. Well, if you’re with me, you’ll have to wait until 13 April, sadly, but it all sounds very exciting.