Visit London Blog » old vic Enjoy the very best of London Wed, 16 Apr 2014 09:00:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 London Theatre News: Benedict Cumberbatch, National Theatre and Old Vic seasons, Alexandra Burke, Thriller Live, The Commitments, Olivier Awards Wed, 02 Apr 2014 10:15:43 +0000

There’ve been rumblings about it for months, but we finally know for sure that Sherlock and The Hobbit star Benedict Cumberbatch will get all Shakespearean and give London his Hamlet. The production, which already looks to be one of 2015’s highlights, will play at the Barbican.

I know we’re barely three months into 2014 and already we’re looking forward to next year, but Cumberbatch fans aren’t the only people getting excited about 2015.

The National Theatre has looked that far ahead and announced a season including new plays by David Hare, Tom Stoppard and Richard Bean alongside an adaptation of Treasure Island and Helen McCrory starring in Medea.

Hit musicals Thriller Live and The Commitments have also cast their eyes that way and announced extensions to their popular runs taking them into 2015.

Kevin Spacey’s not thinking quite that far in advance. The Artistic Director of the Old Vic has only announced plans until the end of 2014. He’ll be taking to the stage in May to play ground-breaking lawyer Clarence Darrow in a one-man show, followed by a modern take on The Crucible and Kristin Scott Thomas starring in Greek tragedy Electra.

At the Adelphi Theatre, one British music mega star will replace another as X Factor winner Alexandra Burke takes over from soul sensation Beverley Knight as The Bodyguard’s Rachel Marron from 2 June. By all accounts Knight has made a big impression since making her stage debut in the Whitney Houston musical; let’s hope Burke can do the same.

Just one more thing, if you’re wondering what to do on the evening of 13 April, the answer is watch the Olivier Awards with MasterCard. The show’s fantastic performances have been announced and include all the nominated Best New Musical and Audience Award shows, Broadway star Bernadette Peters and ABBA’s Benny and Björn joining the cast of Mamma Mia! to celebrate the show’s 15th birthday. Tune in to ITV from 22:15 to see all the best bits.

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London Theatre News: Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Julie Madly Deeply, Fortune’s Fool, Urinetown The Musical, American Psycho & The National Theatre Wed, 16 Oct 2013 08:00:35 +0000  

Extended Run for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

If you’re a fan of both sugary treats and musical theatre, which happily I am, you ought to be delighted to hear that Charlie And The Chocolate Factory has released a glut of golden tickets and extended its booking period until next November.

Julie Madly Deeply for Christmas

While I’ve got musicals on the mind, which is often the case, one-woman show Julie Madly Deeply is heading to the Trafalgar Studios for Christmas. It’s surely the perfect time of year to catch a show delving into the life of Julie Andrews as either The Sound Of Music or Mary Poppins is bound to be on TV. It might even turn out to be, ahem, one of My Favourite Things…

Game of Thrones Star to Lead Cast in Fortune’s Fool

Over at the Old Vic, a very different Christmas show has been announced. Game Of Thrones star Iain Glen will lead the cast of Russian satire Fortune’s Fool, the tale of 19th century newlyweds whose celebratory lunch at their new home unearths a shocking revelation. It also stars Alexander Vlahos, the rising star who caught many an eye playing Mordred in TV’s Merlin.

New National Theatre Boss

Rufus Norris will take over from Sir Nicholas Hytner as director of the National Theatre in 2015. The role is considered to be the biggest job in British theatre. The multi-award winning theatre director has directed shows in the West End and on Broadway. The 48-year-old’s movie Broken premiered at the Cannes Film Festival before winning Best British independent film at the British Independent Film Awards.

Urinetown The Musical

Former Coronation Street star Richard Fleeshman, who led the cast of Ghost The Musical both in London and on Broadway, has signed up to lead the cast of Urinetown The Musical at the St James Theatre. The production, which was shrouded in secrecy when tickets first went on sale, is the London premiere of a musical that won three Tony Awards when it ran on Broadway. It will also star Olivier Award winner Jenna Russell.

American Psycho Musical

If you’ve been wondering what actor Matt Smith will do now he’s no longer Doctor Who, the answer is: star in the lead role of the musical adaptation of Brett Easton Ellis’ controversial novel American Psycho, which plays at the Almeida Theatre from December.

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London Theatre News: Billy Elliot, Thriller, A Pulitzer Prize for Drama and London Cast News Thu, 18 Apr 2013 10:00:02 +0000 Billy ElliotBilly Elliot welcomed its four millionth audience member to the Victoria Palace Theatre this week. Sharon Hick, who watched the show with her friend Jane Horsewood and daughters Amy and Meagan Horsewood, celebrated on the stage with cast members Killian Donnelly and Deka Walmsley. The lucky theatregoers were presented with a weekend stay in London and goody bags for the children before being taken backstage to meet the cast.

Hick said, “Jane and I had been discussing taking Amy and Meagan to see their first West End show, and we thought Billy Elliot would be perfect. It is a real testimony to how magical this show is that so many people have been through the doors to see it.”

Elsewhere in the West End, Thriller – Live has been celebrating its success with a booking extension: you can now see the musical based on the songs of Michael Jackson at the Lyric Theatre until March 2014.

Dsgraced at the Bush TheatreAhead of the forthcoming Olivier Awards, there’s been another win for London theatre. Ayad Akhtar’s Disgraced, which opens at the Bush Theatre next month, has been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Akhtar’s first ever stage play, Disgraced charts the story of a successful corporate lawyer who is about to land the promotion of his life. But, as the play progresses, it’s clear that this success has come at a price. Talking about his win, Akhtar said, “It’s tough to put it into words what an honour and privilege it is to receive this award. I think I might be dreaming.”

Finally, two transfers have been announced this week. The Two’s Company production of London Wall, a play about an office manager and his unsolicited advances towards his new teenage typist transfers to the St James Theatre from 7 May. And fast-paced new comedy The Play That Goes Wrong transfers to the Trafalgar Studios from 30 April. It’s presented by Mischief Theatre, a company specialising in comedy writing.

London Theatre Cast News

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London Theatre News: Shakespeare’s Globe Season, Rupert Goold, & St James Theatre Thu, 14 Feb 2013 15:00:42 +0000 Firstly, two extensions for London theatre shows this week: Feast at the Young Vic is running for another week, until 2 March; while long-running musical Wicked at the Apollo Victoria is now booking until April 2014.

Shakespeare's Globe TheatreOne of my favourite London theatres, Shakespeare’s Globe has announced details of its forthcoming season. In 2013, there’ll be appearances from Roger Allam as Prospero in The Tempest, alongside Colin Morgan (from Merlin) and Jessie Buckley (from I’d Do Anything). The Tempest plays alongside A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Macbeth; plus there’ll be a new musical Gabriel, a modern play called Blue Stockings and a new take on Euipides’ The Bacchae called The Lightning Child. Three of last year’s astonishing Globe To Globe plays return too: South Africa’s Venus & Adonis, a Georgian production of As You Like It and Belarus Free Theatre’s King Lear, along with Footsbarn’s Indian Tempest. Head to their website to find out more!

Congratulations to Rupert Goold, the acclaimed Artistic Director of the Headlong Theatre Company, who is going to replace Michael Attenborough as Artistic Director of the Almeida Theatre in August. Attenborough steps down after 11 years at the venue; Goold’s first production as leader will be in January 2014. Before that, you can catch the director’s handiwork in the world premiere of the new musical based on Bret Easton Ellis’ best-selling novel American Psycho at the venue in the autumn.

Following the successful Our Country’s Good at the St James Theatre, new play The Thrill Of Love opens next month. Running from 27 March to 4 May, The Thrill Of Love tells the story of Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be executed in the UK, after she is convicted of murdering her lover David Blakely, and features music by Billie Holiday. The show’s original cast (including Fate Castelow, Hilary Tones, Maya Wasovicz and Katie West) transfers with the production.

London Theatre Cast News:

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London Theatre News: National Theatre’s Plans for 2013; Private Lives; and Olivier Awards News Thu, 31 Jan 2013 11:00:19 +0000 Yesterday the National Theatre announced their exciting plans for their 50th anniversary year. As well as the premiere of Tori Amos’ musical The Light Princess, there’ll be performances from stars including Simon Russell Beale, Anne-Marie Duff and Clive Rowe, and a season of shows to play in new temporary venue The Shed. Another highlight of their thrilling-sounding season is Nicholas Hytner’s Othello, starring Adrian Lester and Rory Kinnear, and opening in April. Find fuller details here.

In other news, the National Theatre’s West End transfer of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time has extended its run at the Apollo Theatre by 14 weeks, following huge demand for tickets. It now runs from 1 March to 31 August.

After a sell-out run at the Chichester Festival Theatre, Private Lives is coming to the Gielgud Theatre this summer. Starring Toby Stephens and Anna Chancellor as the divorced couple who fall in love again, this classic Noel Coward comedy is directed by Jonathan Kent and runs from 22 June. Anthony Calf and Anna-Louise Plowman reprise their roles as the pair’s newly hitched and soon-to-be-spurned other halves.

Finally, don’t miss all the excitement building around the Olivier Awards. Firstly, theatre fans are being called on to vote for their favourite long-runner. Then there’s the news that Sheridan Smith (one of my favourite actresses) is going to be hosting the event. And not only is the show being broadcast live on BBC Radio 2, there’ll be highlights on ITV following the ceremony AND a live event for theatre fans in Covent Garden on the night. Put 28 April in your diaries now for a lot of theatrical fun.

London Casting News:

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Thursday Theatre News: The King’s Speech, Abigail’s Party, Let It Be, Raza Jaffrey and Lisa Dillon Thu, 26 Apr 2012 16:00:18 +0000
Sad news first: The King’s Speech is closing early, which is a real shame. I saw this show early on in its run, and thought it was a fantastic piece of theatre. You’ll have to be quick if you want to see it before it ends now: closing night is on 12 May.

This does mean there’s space for the excellent Abigail’s Party to transfer from the Menier Chocolate Factory, where it had a sold out run, to the larger Wyndham’s Theatre. Starring Jill Halfpenny, Joe Absolom and Natalie Casey (who’s hilarious), this is a brilliant new version of Mike Leigh’s classic comedy and should continue to make audiences cringe and chortle in equal measure now it’s in the West End.

Other new shows heading to London in the coming weeks are Six Actors In Search Of A Director, a new comedy written and directed by Steven Berkoff at the Charing Cross Theatre from 16 May; and Democracy, Sheffield Theatre’s critically acclaimed production of Michael Frayn’s 2003 hit, at the Old Vic from 15 June.

Finally, have you ever fancied yourself as one of The Beatles? New West End theatrical concert, Let It Be, is running open auditions to find actor-musicians to play the fab four. Head to the Gielgud Theatre on 8 May to show off your talents; successful applicants will join the cast of Let It Be when it opens at the Prince of Wales Theatre in September this year.

London Cast News:

Star of American hit series Smash, Raza Jaffrey is to play the sleazy lawyer Billy Flynn in Chicago from 16 May to 14 July this summer. He’ll then be replaced by Olympic gold medallist and Dancing On Ice judge Robin Cousins.

Lisa Dillon will star alongside Stephen Mangan in the Royal Court’s forthcoming production of Birthday, from 22 June. Joe Penhall’s tense new comedy is about a couple waiting for the arrival of their new baby.

You can find out all you need to know about London theatre, book tickets and read about all the shows on offer on our main website:

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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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The Playboy of the Western World at the Old Vic Theatre Wed, 28 Sep 2011 15:30:01 +0000

The draw for many seeing The Playboy of the Western World will be the chance to see Misfit star Robert Sheehan perform on stage.

And he doesn’t disappoint. Sheehan plays lead Christie Mahon in J M Synge’s dark Irish comedy about a strange lad who shows up in a County Mayo village, seemingly on the run. His claim, that he’s killed his father, quickly wins him bizarre levels of respect from the bored villagers, enchanted with tales of another part of the world and “a daring deed.” Christie, a loser all his life, suddenly finds himself greeted as a hero, fighting off the attentions of various girls and given grudging respect by the men of the village.

But this Mayo village is topsy-turvy place, and when Christie’s father shows up, very much alive despite the large gash in his head, the villagers turn on their “Playboy” with brutal tragicomic consequences.

John Crowley’s production at the Old Vic is a lively one, which really milks the comic potential behind the reversal-of-fortune storytelling, and lets the wonderful, lyrical language shine.

Sheehan makes a great Christie: gorgeous, of course, but he really convinces as the shambolic shuffling nobody (reminding me, at times, of Paolo Nutini) who grows in confidence, then overreaching pride, and then vanity, with every compliment.

Niamh Cusack and Ruth Negga provide great support as the two rival women playing for Christie’s affections. The wily Widow Quin (Cusack) provides some nice comic moments; Negga’s Pegeen is superbly sexy, with a really nasty streak.

But you can’t help but pity Pegeen in the final moments of the play, when the sassiest member of this strange little community cries, plaintively, “I’ve lost him!” Negga fills the line with emotion, calling out for all the losses of the play: loss of respect for family, for human life, for truth; loss of persepective; the loss of hope. It’s perfectly pitched, and a powerful moment.

Be warned: some of the incredibly broad Irish vernacular is difficult to understand, and sitting towards the back, I did “lose” some of the lines from quieter members of the cast.

But if you relax your ears and let it wash over you, confident in Synge’s strange but strong storytelling, the brutal black comedy, and the witty characterisations, you’ll have a fun night.

The Playboy of the Western World plays at the Old Vic until 26 November. Book tickets here.

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Thursday Theatre News: Matt Willis, Adam Cooper, Laurie Metcalf and the Gruffalo Thu, 15 Sep 2011 16:30:00 +0000 London’s theatreland is planning ahead for Christmas (please don’t groan!).

I’ve got three Christmassy announcements, the first from the Old Vic, which is reviving Michael Frayn’s hugely successful comedy Noises Off, directed by Lindsay Posner, over the festive period. Second, a new musical version of Swallows and Amazons will be produced by the National Theatre at the Vaudeville for Christmas; with music by Neil Hannon of the Divine Comedy. And children’s favourite, The Gruffalo will be bringing its terrible tusks and terrible claws to the Lyric for morning and afternoon performances from November to January.

The other new shows announced this week are even further ahead. If you’re planning a theatre trip for next year, you can choose between Singin’ In The Rain at the Palace Theatre, starring Adam Cooper and Scarlett Strallen from February (a transfer of the Chichester Festival Theatre hit); or She Stoops To Conquer at the National Theatre starring Sophie Thompson, Steve Pemberton and Katherine Kelly from January.

And reaching even further into the crystal ball of theatrical future, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre has announced its plans for 2012. It’ll stage A Midsummer Night’s Dream and contemporary musical Ragtime from May to September next year. Book before the end of April 2012, and you’ll get a special ticket price of £20.12 on all performances during the Games themselves (25 July to 12 August).

This week’s casting news:

More next week…

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Thursday Theatre News: Tonys, Birthdays, Extensions and Casting News Thu, 16 Jun 2011 17:12:27 +0000 Firstly a big congratulations to the London-born shows who won Tony Awards on the other side of the pond this week. The National Theatre’s First World War drama War Horse won an impressive five awards including the coveted Best Play accolade. And Mark Rylance won Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, which is a good thing too, because I’d be worried if anyone out there had managed to outdo his memorable performance in Jerusalem.

Second, a note for any Shakespeare fans out there. Theatre company Antic Disposition is planning to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the first performance of The Tempest in London this August. And they’re staging it at London’s Middle Temple Hall, an Elizabethan venue where Shakespeare’s own company once performed. What a treat.

The Royal Court has announced two extensions this week. Both current hit Chicken Soup With Barley, and forthcoming black comedy The Village Bike, have added dates to their runs.

Now to this week’s casting news:

See you at West End Live!

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