Visit London Blog » garrick theatre Enjoy the very best of London Thu, 17 Apr 2014 09:00:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 London Theatre News: The Commitments, American Psycho, Horrible Histories and the new Sam Wanamaker Playhouse Thu, 25 Apr 2013 13:00:26 +0000 Firstly, news of two hot new musicals: The Commitments comes to the Palace Theatre in September, in a new stage version of Roddy Doyle’s novel directed by Jamie Lloyd. It’s the story of Jimmy Rabitte, a young working-class music fan who shapes an unlikely bunch of amateur musicians into an amazing live act, The Commitments. You might’ve seen the brilliant 1991 film of the novel. All preview tickets for the show will be half-price; after opening night on 8 October, the producers continue their commitment (ahem!) to cut price tickets, offering more than 10,000 seats for just £10 for the show’s first year.

In addition, new musical American Psycho, a co-production with the Headlong theatre company, will play at the Almeida Theatre from December. Based on the novel by Bret Easton Ellis, American Psycho is the story of Patrick Bateman, a young man publically embracing the high life in 1980s Manhattan while concealing a particularly nasty secret. The new show has a book by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa with music and lyrics by Duncan Sheik, choreography by Lynne Page and designs by Olivier Award winner Es Devlin. Together, these two shows make for a promising autumn / winter on London’s theatreland…

Good news now for Horrible Histories fans. The family-friendly series returns to London at the Garrick Theatre this autumn with a brand new show. Barmy Britain – Part Two offers a fresh – and no doubt sometimes disgusting – look at Britain’s grisly past. Barmy Britain – Part One will help fans brush up on the series, kicking off the Horrible Histories residency at the theatre from 7 August to 1 September. Part Two then follows from 26 September to 5 January.

Finally, I’m very excited about the news coming from the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, the newly built indoor theatre next to Shakespeare’s Globe. The first season, starting in 2014, will feature drama, opera and live music in its candlelit interior. The first shows will be Jacobean tragedy The Duchess of Malfi, Francis Beaumont’s anarchic comedy The Knight Of The Burning Pestle, the satirical The Malcontent, performed by the Globe’s Young Players, and Cavalli’s rarely performed opera L’Ormindo. There’ll also be music from Grammy Award-winning guitarist John Williams.

The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

Talking about the venue’s first season, Artistic Director Dominic Dromgoole says, “We could not be more delighted than to be opening this theatre with three such shining jewels from this time: a macabre tragedy, a riotous comedy and a beautiful philosophical satire. We hope that the Wanamaker Playhouse will afford as many insights, and prove as theatrically rejuvenating, as the Globe has proved over the last 16 years.”

London Theatre Cast News

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What’s On This Weekend. 22-24 March 2013 Mon, 18 Mar 2013 10:30:08 +0000

Despite the weather, this could be a great weekend to get out and about in London. You can watch more than 3,000 rowers compete in the Head of the River Race or see some newborn lambs in Enfield. And, if it’s pouring down, there are plenty of indoor activities to keep you entertained!

David Bowie Is at the Victoria and Albert Museum 

David Bowie Is comes at a time of renewed interest in the legendary David Bowie, and is the first-ever international retrospective of his multifaceted career. Given unprecedented access to the David Bowie Archive, the V&A has produced a compelling exhibition that includes handwritten lyrics, fashion, photography, film, instruments and much more. Tickets start at £14 for adults. 23 Mar-11 Aug

The Head of the River Race 2013

Stand on the riverbank between Mortlake and Putney and you’ll see the magnificent sight of more than 400 crews of eights fighting it out to be crowned Head of the River. The professional rowing race is held annually and is only open to male competitors, who come from all around the world to row the 6.8km course. The action starts at 12.45pm; why not watch the race and then warm up with a visit to one of the area’s many good pubs? 23 Mar

Wilfred Bagshawe’s Time Emporium at Village Underground

Escape to a fantastical Victorian world at the latest event from the team behind the acclaimed Winterwell Festival. Taking place at Village Underground in Shoreditch, Wilfred Bagshawe’s Time Emporium is a delightful feat of imagination. The time portal takes visitors from the eponymous gentleman’s Victorian shop to various eras and adventures – all in the hope of recovering a priceless ancient artifact. This immersive theatrical experience is set to be one of spring’s most memorable events and tickets (£25) are selling out fast – make sure you get one just in the nick of time. 22-23 Mar

Lambing Weekend at Forty Hall Farm

Take your children to experience the magic of spring at Forty Hall Farm in Enfield, where the farm’s special weekend allows them to get close to cute newborn lambs. As well as meeting the baby sheep, families can see other farmyard friends such as pigs, cows, alpacas and goats, or watch sheep-shearing, wool spinning, Morris dancing and lots of other traditional activities. The farm will also be demonstrating the fruits of their labours through a series of food stalls, from which they’ll be selling their own sausages and other treats. Admission is £3 or £2 for children, and the event starts at 11am on both days. 23-24 Mar

Potted Potter: The Unauthorised Harry Experience at the Garrick Theatre

If you’ve read the lengthy Harry Potter series you’ll appreciate just how ambitious condensing all seven books into a 70-minute show really is. Somehow, Olivier Award winners Dan Clarkson and Jeff Turner have done just that, creating a hilarious parody that involves more than 300 characters, a fire-breathing dragon and even a game of Quidditch in which the audience can participate. Potted Potter has received rave reviews for its previous performances and is only in London for a limited run - grab your tickets now before it disapparates. 23 Mar-14 Apr


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Horrible Histories: Barmy Britain at the Garrick Theatre Tue, 06 Mar 2012 11:46:20 +0000

One thing to consider when booking tickets for the new West End production by the Birmingham Stage Company is the name. Horrible Histories is every bit as horrible as the title suggests.

There is blood and guts galore in Barmy Britain, now appearing at the Garrick Theatre on Charing Cross Road. Over the course of just one hour, actors Lauryn Redding and Benedict Martin race through the goriest events from Britain’s dark past.

The pair, who have both appeared in previous Horrible Histories’ productions, introduce the audience to the likes of ruthless Romans, vicious Vikings and that most terrible of Tudors, Henry VIII. They bring their subjects to life with quirky takes on hit TV shows like Manky Chef and Who Wants To Blow Up Parliament.

Terry Deary is one of Britain’s best-selling authors and last year was the tenth most borrowed author in British libraries. His Horrible Histories series has instilled a generation of children with a love of history, which their teachers might not have thought possible. He dusts down dreary episodes from the past and appeals to kids with his wicked sense of humour and attention to deathly detail.

The hit series has spawned several productions from the Birmingham Stage Company and an exceedingly popular BBC children’s programme, which is a regular favourite in our house.

My boys were thrilled when I told them I had tickets for Barmy Britain. They loved the actors’ high-energy performances and laughed their way through many of the skits. My eight-year-old considered himself a little too cool for the audience participation, but his six-year-old brother joined in the song about Henry VIII’s worried wives with gusto – happily performing the actions to divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived.

If I’m being honest, I had my doubts and exchanged a couple of knowing looks with other slightly uneasy parents. But I kept quiet while all around me were laughing and guffawing.

Then it all went a bit too far for my boys as the pair started describing the gruesome executions of tens of thousands of commoners at Tyburn (now Marble Arch). After a particularly grisly explanation of what it meant to be hung, drawn and quartered, the dancing duo moved on to the story of Victorian “baby farmer” Amelia Dyer. If it happened today, would I be happy to let my little ones watch a news story about a prolific murderer of babies?

At this point it became clear that the content wasn’t just washing over my sons’ heads, as I’d initially convinced myself. Separately, they both turned to me saying that the show was “really gross”, and my oldest did so with his bottom lip quivering.

I fully appreciate how clever and popular Horrible Histories is with both children and adults alike and I hate to be the prudish parent. But, based on my children’s reactions, I disagree with the published age recommendation of six years and over. That said, the show is likely to be a great hit and much-loved by older children and teenagers.

Horrible Histories at the Garrick Theatre until 1 September 2012. Book tickets

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Thursday Theatre News: Celia Imrie, America Ferrera, Joley Richardson, Million Dollar Quartet & The Kings Speech Thu, 13 Oct 2011 17:00:00 +0000

Sad news to start this week: Million Dollar Quartet is closing. After nearly a year in the West End, the musical which celebrates the four greats of rock’n’roll (Elvis, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins) will close on 14 January at the Noel Coward Theatre. (The producers are planning to take the production on a tour of the UK, so this isn’t necessarily the end for this show!)

Are you a fan of The Kings Speech? The Oscar-winning film actually started life as a play by David Seidler, which is happily being produced at the Richmond Theatre next March. The Kings Speech is directed by former RSC Artistic Director Adrian Noble and stars Charles Edwards as King George VI. I think it’ll make a fantastic play; can’t wait to see it!

And now this week’s cast news:

More next week!

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Pygmalion at the Garrick Theatre Thu, 26 May 2011 13:43:30 +0000 A new London production of Pygmalion starring Rupert Everett as Professor Henry Higgins and Kara Tointon as Eliza Doolittle has just opened at the Garrick Theatre. 

This much-loved play tells the story of the egocentric Professor Higgins who makes a bet to turn Eliza, a poor illiterate flower girl, into a lady who can pass as a duchess in six months.

I was looking forward to seeing the play, which inspired the classic musical My Fair Lady. It was much funnier and more thought-provoking than I expected. The themes of social class and London society in the early 1900s are still interesting to observe.

The performances are fantastic, most notably that of Kara Tointon who captures the character of Eliza Doolittle (with a touch of Audrey Hepburn) extremely well and is a joy to watch. Rupert Everett is excellent, as is Diana Rigg who plays his long-suffering mother.

Pygmalion is at the Garrick Theatre until 3 September 2011. Book tickets

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The Gruffalo at London’s Garrick Theatre Wed, 05 Jan 2011 13:30:26 +0000

The Gruffalo is one of the most popular children’s stories of modern times.

You might be thinking: “A gruffalo? What’s a gruffalo?”

Ask any child of primary school age or younger and you are sure to find an answer. Watch as their eyes light up, they assume a scary pose and reply: “Why didn’t you know…?

Julia Donaldson’s rhyming fable tells of a tiny mouse who wanders through a deep, dark wood in search of nuts. En route the mouse encounters three hungry animals – a fox, an owl and a snake. The quick-thinking rodent frightens off its predators by telling them of the terrifying beast that it’s going to meet – the gruffalo. To the mouse’s amazement it eventually crosses paths with the imaginary beast, who fancies the mouse on a piece of toast.

In 2001 the clever tale was brought to life by Tall Stories Theatre Company. Since then it has travelled everywhere from Australia to Alaska. This year the show is on at the Garrick Theatre – the production’s third West End season.

The theatre was packed out with excited youngsters and their no-less excited adult companions. My little ones watched in awe as one of their favourite stories was retold on stage.

Those of you familiar with the story may be wondering how it could possibly work as a full-length children’s show. Tall Stories have stayed faithful to Donaldson’s story, but added in some extra narration, a few catchy tunes and a dash of audience participation.

The kids loved it – especially my two-year-old who had never been to the theatre before. He bounced up and down in his seat and relished the opportunity to show the on-stage animals how loudly he could roar.

Christmas may be over, but there is still time to buy a ticket to see The Gruffalo in London. The show runs until 16 January. Buy Gruffalo tickets here.

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When We Are Married at The Garrick Theatre Wed, 15 Dec 2010 15:44:58 +0000

The Helliwells, the Soppitts and the Parkers were all married on the same day in the same chapel. Twenty-five years on they meet up to celebrate their joint wedding anniversaries. Recreating the special moment is all going to plan until the local organist delivers some shocking news: the minister who conducted the service was not authorised to do so and consequently they are all single and carefree.

The thick red curtain lifts to reveal a stunning Victorian sitting room setting (courtesy of Simon Higlett). The audience gasped in admiration. The play, When We Are Married, is just over two hours long, but despite the length it feels slightly rushed towards the end, perhaps because the story is brought to an unsatisfactory, abrupt conclusion with little explanation.

The cast are strong and seem to enjoy frolicking about the Garrick stage to showcase J.B Priestley’s wit and farcical naughtiness. Maureen Lipman is particularly thrilling to watch as the uptight Clara Soppitt. Her character undergoes a mortifying change as her newly unmarried husband realises he is no longer obliged to accept her bullying. The other star is Roy Hudd as the hysterical drunken photographer Henry Ormonroyd. He dances and sings with bounding joy seemingly unaware of what is going on around him.

One last mention must go to Ruby Birtle who is a tour de force as the energetic maid Jodie McNee, she is absolutely hilarious to watch.

A most entertaining comedy – definitely worth going to see.

When We Are Married is on until 26 February. Book When We Are Married tickets here.

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Thursday Theatre News: Shrek, Les Mis, Sister Act, and the Young Vic turns 40 Thu, 08 Jul 2010 16:59:35 +0000 It’s a long way off, but everyone’s favourite green ogre will make his West End debut next summer.

Shrek The Musical opens at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in June 2011, and is a stage version of the familiar film, with an original score by Jeanine Tesori and book and lyrics by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Lindsay-Abaire. You could pair this show with a matinee of Wicked, and have a green-themed day in the West End!

Another West End debut from an American sees Whoopi Goldberg starring in Sister Act: The Musical for a limited period in August.

Goldberg, who plays Deloris can Cartier in the original film, will replace Sheila Hancock as Mother Superior from 10 to 31 August. Despite laughing off the idea of being in the show when it first opened (“I can’t do eight shows a week of anything!”) Whoopi does have a good pedigree of Broadway work, starring in A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and Xanadu.

And I’ve got news of another big star returning to the West End later in the year.

Maureen Lipman will star in J B Priestley’s When We Are Married at the Garrick Theatre from 19 October. A consummate comedienne, Lipman last appeared in London in Trevor Nunn’s production of A Little Night Music, which earned her a Laurence Olivier Award nomination. Her other stage credits include Thoroughly Modern Millie, Wonderful Town!, Maureen Lipman Live And Kidding and See How They Run. Priestley’s play, When We Are Married sounds like a great vehicle for Lipman’s talent: a comedy about class hypocricy set in West Yorkshire at the turn of the century. I can’t wait.

You’ll probably be aware of the Les Mis 25th anniversary extravaganza due to take over The O2 in October. Well, there’s been a few more cast members announced. Ramin Karimloo (currently playing The Phantom in Love Never Dies) will play Enjolras, and Samantha Barks, who’s playing Eponine at the Queen’s Theatre at the moment will play the same part in the special anniversary concert.

Les Mis isn’t the only thing with a significant birthday this year. This morning I headed to the not-so-Young Vic to hear about plans for their 40th birthday, and to enjoy some birthday cupcakes!

David Lan, the artistic director talked us through the eclectic season of opera, musicals, drama, and children’s shows with his usual enthusiasm. The birthday season is an international affair, with Icelandic company Vesturport bringing Faust and other European associates and productions in the list.

Potential highlights for me included musical The Human Comedy (by Galt MacDermot, the composer behind Hair); Simon Stephens’s version of Jon Fosse’s I Am The Wind, directed by Patrice Chéreau (hard not to be impressed when David Lan tells you this director changed his life, and has always been working to create a theatre where that guy might one day want to come and work – wow); and children’s theatre company Fevered Sleep’s On Ageing, performed by children but aimed at adults.

Over at SOLT, here’s a more detailed list of all the 40th birthday excitement for the Young Vic this year. And there’s loads of tickets for £10 too! You’ve got no excuse not to go…

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David Essex in All the Fun of the Fair Fri, 30 Apr 2010 11:40:23 +0000

I have two confessions to make about All the Fun of the Fair, London’s new West End hit musical staring David Essex. Firstly, I only went because my mum wanted me to take her. Secondly, I got so wrapped up in this wonderful show that I nearly cried like a big soppy muppet when David sang Winter’s Tale at the end.

While it might not win awards for originality, everything about this musical works perfectly. If you like a good musical, you’ll like this. Even the predictable boy-meets-girl plot is perfectly pitched. They’ve taken great music, a stunning set, interesting characters, a straight-forward plot and an enthusiastic, talented cast, and created a really warm, enjoyable show.

Sometimes pop songs shoehorned into musicals don’t really work, but in All The Fun of the Fair, songs like Gonna Make You a Star, Me and My Girl (Night-Clubbing) and Hold Me Close fit perfectly into the adventures of funfair owner Levi and his son Jack. Silver Dream Machine inspires a particularly stunning scene.

All the Fun of the Fair is full of passion, David Essex is full of charming charisma and the Garrick Theatre is full of happy musical fans. Rock On!

18 April – 6 September, tickets from £20.

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Change: Magical Theatre From Arturo Brachetti Sun, 01 Nov 2009 10:00:44 +0000 Change starring Arturo BrachettiGasps of wonder and spontaneous applause filled the Garrick Theatre last night as a Beefeater momentarily obscured himself with a sheet and dropped it to reveal a punk rocker. It was just one of many spectacular transformations made by magician and actor Arturo Brachetti during his new production, Change.

Change tells the story of a performer’s life as the artist spins his way in and out of spectacular costumes.

The art of quick change is centuries old and involves the use of props such as sheets, umbrellas and boxes to cover the performer for a split second as they change from one costume to the next.   

Part magician, part comedian, and a consumate showman, Brachetti’s signature show A Man of a Thousand Faces has been seen by more than one million people worldwide. 

Even a period of simple shadow play (probably so he can catch his breath) is charming.  Brachetti’s masterful performance really does need to be seen to be believed.

This delightful act, London-themed to further engage the audience, is one for the whole family – the children in front of me loved it. 

Change is at the Garrick Theatre until 3 January.

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