Great news this week as my favourite Shakespeare comedy (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) is coming to the Rose Theatre next year, featuring one of my favourite actresses (Judi Dench), set in one of my favourite periods of history: the court of Elizabeth I.
But that’s not all. The fantastic Rachael Stirling (she’s Diana Rigg’s daughter, y’know) is playing Helena – the most fun a girl can have in a Shakespeare show without the responsibility and cross-dressing silliness of a Rosalind. Add to that the sexy Ben Mansfield as her love interest Demetrius (he was great at the Open Air Theatre this summer), and Oliver Chris from the Green Wing and Nathan Barley as Bottom, and, well, it’s all pretty exciting. I’m also looking forward to seeing the ace Msimisi Dlamini (Philostrate) again after enjoying his performance in the Arcola’s Spanish Tragedy this season. And it’s all directed by Peter Hall. *And* tickets start at just £5. What a treat.
In other casting news, I’m happy to learn Mark Rylance and Mackenzie Crook are going to reprise their performances in the West End version of Jerusalem, particularly as the show won some top prizes at the Evening Standard Awards this week. Many of the other original Royal Court cast members are also coming back for the West End move. Even better news: if, like me, you haven’t got around to booking tickets yet, Jerusalem is offering 20 best-price seats at £10 each, available from the box office from 10am on the day of the performance. Bear in mind you’ve got to show up in person.
Speaking in Tongues has been in the news this week as Ian Hart allegedly lost his temper with an audience member. If you were there, tell us about it… If this has made you even more eager to see the show (which also stars the brilliant John Simm and Kerry Fox), book now: you’ve only got until 12 December…
Finally, news about a show which is a long way from posting closing notices: Billy Elliot. Not only have they extended booking until December 2010, but there’s also a new Billy to boot! Dean-Charles Chapman, 12, is no stranger to the show: he played Small Boy in the original cast when Billy Elliot opened in 2005; and has been playing Michael (Billy’s best friend) since the start of the year. Incredibly, he’s been training for Billy for two years. Break a leg, D-C!