Visit London Blog » Zoe Craig Enjoy the very best of London Fri, 22 May 2015 17:44:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 London Theatre News: Billy & Matilda Extend, plus Urinetown, Duck House, and The Gruffalo Thu, 19 Sep 2013 09:30:00 +0000 Billy ElliotFirstly, news of extensions for some of London’s most popular theatre shows. You can now book to see Billy Elliot until 16 May 2015, taking the show into its 11th year; War Horse has extended its run at the New London Theatre to 27 October 2014 (its 7th year in the West End); and Matilda’s revolting children will continue to stomp and shine at the Cambridge Theatre until December 2014. If you’re a theatre fan and haven’t caught any of these three yet, I really recommend you do: they’re some of my favourite long-running shows on in London at the moment.

Second, the secrecy that has surrounded the St James Theatre’s latest project has finally been broken. Hit Broadway show Urinetown, an “exciting, innovative, edgy, modern, tuneful, funny satirical show” will make its UK debut from 22 February next year. A dystopian tale, Urinetown features book and lyrics by Greg Kotis and music and lyrics by Mark Hollmann, is set in a city suffering a terrible drought, where a business tycoon has made his fortune by monopolising public toilets… Urinetown will be directed by Jamie Lloyd.

Another satire, of a very different nature, comes to the London stage this winter. The Duck House at the Vaudeville Theatre is the tale of a Labour backbencher, who is about to make the leap to the Conservatives to save his seat when the 2009 expenses scandal hits. It’s written by two of satirical television’s most prolific writers, Dan Patterson and Colin Swash and stars Ben Miller, the award-winning Nancy Carroll and X-Factor semi-finalist Diana Vickers.

The Gruffalo at Garrick TheatreFinally, two very different Christmas shows have been announced this week. Look out for the brand-new, very adult The Night Before Christmas, a musical by Anthony Neilson at the Soho Theatre from 29 November; or the tried-and-tested kid-pleasing The Gruffalo, which returns to the Lyric Theatre for a Christmas run from 20 November to 12 January.

London Theatre Cast News:

  • Former Les Misérables stars Fra Fee and David Thaxton will star alongside fellow London stage regulars Scarlett Strallen and Cassidy Jansen in the Menier Chocolate Factory’s Christmas production of Candide
  • Colin Morgan, star of the BBC’s Merlin, joins the already-very-tasty cast of Mojo at the Harold Pinter Theatre, alongside Tom Rhys Harries, and the already announced Ben Whishaw, Daniel Mays and Rupert Grint.
  • Dawn King’s drama Ciphers at the Bush Theatre next year will star Bruce Alexander, Ronny Jhutti, Gráinne Keenan and Shereen Martin in the Out Of Joint and Northcott theatre co-production.
]]> 0
London Theatre News: The Sound of Music; Ghost Stories; Miss Saigon; and the Park Theatre Thu, 29 Aug 2013 09:00:34 +0000 Michael Xavier as Captain von Trapp and the children. Photo by Johan Persson

Good news for fans of The Sound of Music: the Open Air Theatre’s production of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic has extended to 14 September. Let’s hope the weather stays kind for the rest of the run.

It was a huge hit first time round, so I’m pleased to announce that Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman’s terrifying production of Ghost Stories is coming back to the capital. The spooky show will play from 13 February at Leicester Square’s Arts Theatre, four years after it first appeared in London.

If, like me, you’re eagerly awaiting more details about Miss Saigon returning to the West End, I’ve got some news for you. The Olivier Award-winning show will play at the Prince Edward Theatre from 3 May next year. Tickets go on sale on 9 September – put it in your diaries!

Finally, I’ve news of London newest theatre, the Park Theatre’s second season. Tim Pigott-Smith will star in the world premiere of a new play by Larry Belling; and Sean Holmes brings his production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night back to the capital. There’ll be another world premiere (Sarah Rutherford’s Adult Supervision); a run by the ever-brilliant Reduced Shakespeare Company; and a festive pantomime.

London Theatre Cast News

]]> 0
London Theatre News: Menier Chocolate Factory, Watch This Space, The Weir and More Thu, 25 Jul 2013 10:00:36 +0000 Menier Chocolate Factory

Following the recent premiere of The Color Purple at the Menier Chocolate Factory (I thought it was fantastic, by the way), this week, I’ve news of another European premiere at the South London venue. Nicky Silver’s “savagely funny and heartbreaking” Broadway hit, The Lyons will run at the Menier from 19 September; tickets go on sale on 31 July. Silver’s dark comedy is the story of a family gathered around the hospital bed of their dying father. An exploration of a fractured family, the musical’s initially compassionate characters soon give way to bickering, sniping and betrayal.

With all this good weather we’ve been enjoying in London, it’s the perfect time for me to tell you about the National Theatre’s Watch This Space Presents… August Outdoors festival, taking place outside the iconic Southbank venue. Between 2 and 31 August, you can pop along to see free theatre, music, dance, puppetry and more, all for free. Check out to find out more.

Finally for this week: another West End transfer. Josie Rourke’s production of Conor McPherson’s The Weir will transfer to the Wyndham’s Theatre next year following a successful run at the Donmar Warehouse. Starring Risteárd Cooper, Brian Cox, Dervla Kirwan, Peter McDonald and Ardal O’Hanlon, McPherson’s play tells the story of a group of locals all eager to impress a stranger in their midst with their tall tales. The show will open in January next year.

The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-TimeLondon Theatre Cast News

  • Mike Noble will replace Luke Treadaway in the lead role in The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night Time at the Apollo Theatre from 2 September this year. He’ll be joined by Amanda Drew, Trevor Fox and Rakie Ayola in the new cast of the successful show
  • David Horovitch, Adrian Schiller and Lydia Wilson will join Olivier Award winner Antony Sher in Terry Johnson’s self-directed production of Hysteria at the Hampstead Theatre
  • The full cast of the Chichester Festival Theatre’s production of The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui will transfer to the West End from September. Henry Goodman will lead the cast at the Duchess Theatre, with support from Keith Baxter, Michael Feast, William Gaunt and Joe McGann
  • Christopher Biggins, Hugh Bonneville, Barbara Windsor, Larry Lamb and Simon Callow are just some of the big names playing God for a week each in Spamalot at the Playhouse Theatre this summer, all in the name of charity

See more London theatre shows at

]]> 0
Chill Out! 8 Places to Cool Off When it’s Hot in London Thu, 18 Jul 2013 10:00:14 +0000 Yesterday, the Met Office issued a Level 3 heatwave warning in London as temperatures reach 30C (86F) in the capital. While that might seem normal for some of our overseas visitors, it’s a bit of a shock for others used to seeing more lukewarm sunshine-and-showers while they’re in town.

If you’re looking for somewhere to escape the heat, we’ve got the following suggestions for top places to chill out in London this weekend:

Icebar London

Drink in an Igloo
Made of Swedish ice and maintained at a constant -5C all year round, Icebar is literally the UK’s coolest bar. You’ll need to book ahead, but you’re sure to cool down pretty quickly with one of their chilled cocktails: the Bunga Spritz is this month’s tipple of choice: Aperol, Ruby Port Reduction, Grapefruit bitter and Prosecco

Ice Climbing
Forget sunbathing, this weather calls for ice climbing! Head to Ellis Brigham’s Covent Garden store where you can clamber all over their Vertical Chill Ice Wall for an hour’s seriously chilly fun.

Ice Skating
Slightly less daunting than climbing a wall of ice, why not try skating gracefully over it instead? The Lee Valley Ice Centre is an international sized (56m x 26m) rink with space for 800 skaters. They offer learn to skate courses for novices.

Ice Cream Fit for a Queen
The Parlour Restaurant situated on the First Floor of Fortnum & Mason offers top-quality gastronomic ice cream indulgence to children (and adults!) of all ages. If you’re after weird and wacky flavours, this is the place for you: many are unique to F&M.

Dive In
Many of London’s outdoor pools are unheated: particular favourites among the team here are Brockwell Lido in South East London, and Hampstead Heath’s bathing ponds to the North of the city.

Brockwell Lido

Cool Culture
Head into one of London’s free cultural institutions, and you’ll be greeted with a wave of cooling, cultured air. Galleries have to maintain strict temperatures to preserve their exhibits: inside the National Gallery, it’s usually 23C. We’re big fans of escaping the heat in the V&A’s ceramics gallery. Inside the British Library, it’s usually between a cool 18C and 21C, to keep all those glorious books in tip top condition. And quiet too. Bliss.

Hit the Water
There are plenty of boats offering cooling trips down the Thames. But none offer quite as effective rush of cold air as the speedboat tours. You might have white knuckles from holding on, but you’ll feel refreshed by the end!

Fun Fountains
It’s where the cool kids are: as the temperatures rise, the fountains on the Southbank, in More London near The Scoop, and in Granary Square are attracting scores of soaked children playing in the jets. If only the adults could get away with it too…

Do you have any more tips for beating the heat in London? Let us know in the comments below!

]]> 0
London Theatre News: Charlie, Wind in the Willows, Stephen Ward and From Here To Eternity Thu, 11 Jul 2013 09:00:56 +0000 Charlie and the Chocolate FactoryFirstly, sad news that A Chorus Line is closing early on 31 August. But with every early curtain comes news of an extension, and fans of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory will be pleased to hear that the Sam Mendes-directed show is now booking at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane until 31 May 2014.

This week, I’ve got news of two hit shows returning to the London stage: firstly, the Royal Opera House’s family-friendly production of The Wind in the Willows will play at the Duchess Theatre this Christmas. This perennial favourite has received three revivals since its first appearance and played more than 100 performances in the capital. Secondly, Lolita Chakrabarti’s Olivier Award-nominated play Red Velvet will return to the Tricycle Theatre as part of its forthcoming new season, with Adrian Lester reprising his role as Ira Aldridge.

Finally three very different new London shows have been announced: a farce, a musical, and a pantomime. Take your pick from Antony Sher playing Sigmund Freud in Terry Johnson’s farce Hysteria at the Hampstead Theatre this September; the world premiere of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new musical Stephen Ward at the Aldwych Theatre from early December; or the ever-brilliant Hackney Empire panto team’s production of Puss in Boots from November.

Owain Arthur. Photo by Hugo GlendinningLondon Theatre Cast News

]]> 0
Interview with Jonathan Andrew Hume from The Lion King Wed, 29 May 2013 10:00:02 +0000 Jonathan Andrew HumeJonathan Andrew Hume is currently playing Simba in The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre. He returns to London having played the role in the Singaporean production. Hume also played Judas in the 2004 Jesus Christ Superstar tour as well as making television appearances in Hope & Glory and Eastenders. Here he talks about his experience of playing the iconic role, and the effect The Lion King story has had on him…

Why do you think The Lion King has been such a long running success?
The Lion King is a spectacular show. There are so many layers to it and at the heart of it is a timeless story that resonates with everyone.

How did you react to being asked to play such an iconic role as Simba?
Ever since I first saw The Lion King, I fell in love with it. I used to watch the video with my brother so many times that we could recite the words along with the characters! Simba’s journey is really inspirational. When I was offered the role, it felt as if I’d been told to play a childhood hero!

You’ve done some TV work – do you prefer the stage?
Yes, most definitely. On the stage, there’s no opportunity to stop and start over again like with television or film. I love the challenge of reproducing the story every day, but still keeping it fresh for those coming to see it for the first time.

How old were you when Disney’s Lion King film came out? Did the story have a profound effect on you?
I was 11 years old when the film was released. If I think about what the story means to me, I’m reminded of Simba’s progression and growth that leads him to succeed. By learning from our mistakes, we can develop and succeed in our lives.

Jonathan Andrew Hume in The Lion KingHave you ever had any wardrobe malfunctions on stage?
As part of my costume, I wear a beautiful hand-beaded corset. Unfortunately, some of the beads occasionally fall off with all the dancing. Even after the costumes are created, there’s still a lot of hard work that goes into maintaining them.

You were Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar – how does it feel going from villain to hero?
It’s always fun playing the bad guy! There’s something appealing about acting in a way completely unlike yourself. But playing the good guy is just as fun. Being able to save the day and get the girl eight times a week is a good feeling!

Why should theatre-goers see The Lion King? And after that why should they see it again?
The Lion King is a musical for kids and adults, theatre-lovers and first-timers. The show is so rich with detail that it’s impossible to take it all in the first time. The beautiful puppetry and costumes, the vivid make-up and lighting, the enormous staging, the evocative music and choreography all combine to create this wonderful musical. Who wouldn’t want to see it again?!

The Lion King is currently playing at the Lyceum Theatre. Book tickets to see the show here.


]]> 0
London Theatre News: Open Air Theatre; Donmar Warehouse; A Doll’s House; Let It Be; and X-Factor The Musical Thu, 23 May 2013 15:00:10 +0000 Let It BeFirstly, congratulations to Let It Be – the show has extended its run at the Savoy Theatre until 18 January next year. More a concert than a story-and-script-led musical, Let It Be presents a chronological run-through of The Beatles best bits from the 1960s pop of Hard Day’s Night to the 70s psychedelia of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and everything in between. Let It Be will also become the latest show to introduce lower priced tickets: from 3 June, there’ll be seats available from just £15.

In other musical news, the highly anticipated X Factor Musical, called I Can’t Sing! will open at the London Palladium next year, with tickets going on sale today. Written by comedian Harry Hill and directed by Sean Foley, I Can’t Sing! begins previews at the Palladium on 27 February. The title sets the tone for the talent show-inspired musical, which features 19 original songs by Hill and Spend Spend Spend’s Steve Brown, and aims “an affectionate poke” at the popular ITV series, according to Hill and Brown.

A Doll's HouseAnother week; another West End transfer. The Young Vic’s acclaimed production of A Doll’s House will transfer to the Duke of York’s Theatre this summer, following two sell-out runs at the Young Vic. Hattie Morahan will reprise her Critics’ Circle and Evening Standard Award-winning role as Nora in the production, which runs from 8 August to 26 October, alongside fellow original cast members Dominic Rowan, Nick Fletcher and Steve Toussaint.

London Theatre Cast News

  • Jane Asher will star as Lady Catherine de Bourgh in the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre’s production of Pride and Prejudice this summer. She’ll be joined by Jennifer Kirby, Imogen Byron, Yolanda Kettle, Eleanor Thorn and Leah Brotherhead as the five Bennet sisters, Timonty Walker and Rebecca Lacey as Mr and Mrs Bennet, David Oakes as Mr Darcy, Barnaby Sax as the charming Mr Wickham and Rob Heaps as wealthy bachelor Mr Bingley
  • Michael Xavier and Charlotte Wakefield will star as Captain Von Trapp and Maria in the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic The Sound of Music at the Open Air Theatre
  • Jessica Raine, Daniel Mays, Mark Gatiss and Tom Hiddleston are all to appear in the Donmar’s new season of plays from August this year. The season includes the premiere of Nick Payne’s new play The Same Deep Water As Me (with Daniel Mays); a revival of Arnold Wesker’s Roots (starring Jessica Raine and Linda Bassett); and Coriolanus (with Tom Hiddleston and Mark Gatiss).
]]> 1
London Theatre News: Dirty Dancing, Almeida Festival, Kids Week; Joanna Lumley and Toby Jones Thu, 16 May 2013 10:00:53 +0000 Jill Winternitz and Paul Michael Jones in Dirty Dancing. Photo by Alasair MuirGood news watermelon fans: Dirty Dancing is back! Following the news that Viva Forever is closing at the end of June, the classic story of Baby and Johnny and a summer romance in 1960s America is now going to take the place of the Spice Girls’ musical at the Piccadilly Theatre from 13 July. Last time Dirty Dancing was in London, it ran for five years. This time, it’s booking until February next year.

If you’re into experimental and brand new theatre, make sure you check out this summer’s Almeida Festival, running from 9 July to 3 August. It’s a really eclectic programme, including international theatre companies, new collaborations and award-winning artists. Look out for Bryony Kimming’s new show, Credible Likeable Superstar Role Model; Lost Dogs’ new show Rabbits; and Dante or Die’s I Do, a site-specific piece that takes place in six hotel rooms 10 minutes before a wedding is due to start. For the full line-up, see

The line-up for this year’s Kids Week has also been announced. Running for the whole of August in 2013, there are 34 top London shows offering free tickets to children aged 16 and under with every adult ticket bought. As well as top musicals, drama and dance shows, there are also workshops for kids interested in trying ballet, learning pop songs with the cast of Let It Be and tap dancing with Top Hat. Tickets go on sale on 18 June from

The latest news from the National Theatre is that Rufus Norris will direct a new stage adaptation of the acclaimed novel Behind The Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death And Hope In A Mumbai Undercity next year. The novel by Katherine Boo is being adapted by playwright David Hare, and is a non-fiction account of life in the slums of Annawadi. If the adaptation of Mark Haddon’s novel, The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time is anything to go by, the National could have another hit on their hands.

Joanna LumleyLondon Theatre Cast News

]]> 0
London Theatre News: Punchdrunk; Curious Incident; Slava’s Snowshow; and Henry Winkler Thu, 09 May 2013 13:00:47 +0000 The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable by Punchdrunk

Yesterday one of the most closely guarded secrets in theatreland has been revealed: the location of Punchdrunk’s new show. The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable will take place in the largest space the innovative theatre company have ever taken over: a massive empty building next door to Paddington Station. Subject to licensing and planning permission, Punchdrunk will transform 31 London Street into the forgotten world of Temple Studios for its latest immersive theatrical experience. The show has also extended its London run to 31 December with 50,000 extra tickets now on sale.

The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-TimeNext up, great news for fans of the multi-award winning The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time. The National’s hit show has extended its booking period at the Apollo Theatre to October 2014, releasing an additional 250,000 tickets for the celebrated show. If you haven’t done so yet, book tickets to see it now! It’s a fantastic piece of feel-good theatre, with a real star at the centre of its cast in Luke Treadaway.

London’s theatre offering also expanded today with the opening of a brand new theatre in Finsbury Park. The Park Theatre is run by artistic director Jez Bond, and the first performance will be Melanie Marnich’s These Shining Lives, starting this week. Like last year’s new arrival, the St James theatre in Victoria, there are two spaces in the venue: a 200-seat theatre and a flexible 90-seat space. The Park Theatre will operate as a charity, relying on local support to keep it running. If you’re in the area – pop in! There’s a bar and a café inside too.

And speaking of the St James Theatre, I have news of their latest show. The American Plan is a transfer from Theatre Royal Bath, and will open at the Victoria venue in July. Richard Greenberg’s 1960s-set play is a tale of broken dreams, twisted motives and deceit. It stars Diana Quick as an overbearing mother intent on controlling her daughter’s life.

Finally, this year’s Greenwich+Docklands international theatre festival line-up has been announced. Organised by Bradley Hemmings, one of the team responsible for last year’s Paralympic Opening Ceremony, the festival will feature the best UK and international performers to streets, parks and public spaces in and around Greenwich. If you like immersive, unusual and eclectic performance, then make sure you’re in London between 21 to 29 June. And best of all, it’s all free!

Henry Winkler will play Hook at the Hampstead Theatre this ChristmasChristmas London Theatre News

Is it too soon to get excited about the festive season in London? Perhaps. But if you’re the type of person who loves to plan ahead, you might fancy putting one of the following into the very end of your 2013 diary:

  • Slava’s Snowshow returns to the Royal Festival Hall at the Southbank Centre for the third year running in December. The award-winning production, which mixes theatrical clowning and stunning visuals, will hit the venue just in time to create a white Christmas, playing from 17 December to 5 January
  • And this week’s other Christmas announcement is that the legendary Henry Winkler will play Hook in Peter Pan at the Richmond Theatre from 6 December. Start practising your booing now!


]]> 1
Interview with Richard Bean, Playwright of One Man, Two Guvnors Wed, 08 May 2013 10:00:52 +0000 Richard BeanBorn in Hull, Richard Bean worked as an occupational psychologist and stand-up comedian before becoming a playwright. His plays include Honeymoon Suite, Harvest, The Heretic, Toast, The Big Fellah, England People Very Nice and an adaptation of Molière’s The Hypochondriac. One Man, Two Guvnors is Bean’s modern English version of Carlo Goldoni’s classic Italian comedy, The Servant of Two Masters.

How does writing an adaptation compare to writing an original play?
Writing an adaptation is pleasurable because someone’s already written the ending. Deciding how to end a play is a writer’s torture. With adaptations, you just have to make the plot work in the context you’ve decided on. One Man, Two Guvnors is set in Brighton in 1963. All I had to worry about was making it funny.

The Servant of Two Masters is very much of its period. What are the problems in adapting and updating a work of this genre?
The main problem to solve was that the original plot revolved around arranged marriage and that didn’t exist in the 1960s, except within certain cultures. The solution we came up with was to create a marriage of convenience because one of the parties was gay and wanted to hide that fact by marrying a woman. The second problem was the sword fighting that features in the original. In the 1960s, East End gangsters carried around flick knives so that introduced the gangster concept to the adaptation.

The Craze from One Man, Two Guvnors at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. Photo by Johan Persson

You’ve relocated the play from 18th century Venice to 1960s Brighton. How did that come about?
I had many early discussions with Nick Hytner, the production’s director, about where to set it. As food is such a motivating factor for the central character, my original idea was to set it just after World War II because food was still being rationed. Nick wasn’t keen on that as he thought using military colours for the set and costumes would be too muted. He wanted to have more primary colours in the mix so we settled on 1963.

Francis Henshall (Rufus Hound) and Rachel Crabbe (Amy Cudden) in One Man, Two Guvnors. Photo by Johan Persson

You’ve retained many elements of Commedia dell’arte (Italian comedy). Was this important to you?
I wanted to keep most of the stock characters from the genre, but put a 1963 spin on them. So, for example, the birth of feminism gave us the character of Dolly. Although it’s not fashionable in contemporary theatre to have asides to the audience, I kept them in as I wanted to make an accessible, popular comedy that would find a new audience for the National Theatre.

One Man, Two Guvnors opened to critical acclaim at the National Theatre in 2011. It’s now on at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. Book your tickets here.

]]> 0