Visit London Blog » trafalgar studios Enjoy the very best of London Fri, 18 Apr 2014 09:00:30 +0000 en-US hourly 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

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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: Mamma Mia; Derren Brown; Matthew Morrison and Idina Menzel Thu, 11 Apr 2013 09:30:24 +0000 Mamma Mia!Firstly, happy 14th birthday to Mamma Mia! The show has celebrated another successful year by extending their booking period to 5 April 2014. If you haven’t seen this musical yet, you really must: it’s such a fantastic feel-good show and has been seen by more than 50 million people in 37 productions worldwide.

This week, there’s news of another extension: My Perfect Mind is actor Edward Petherbridge’s tale about suffering a stroke, and will now run at the Young Vic until 4 May. The Told By An Idiot show features Petherbridge playing himself and Paul Hunter playing all the other characters. The play was inspired by Petherbridge who suffered a stroke as he was rehearsing to play King Lear. At the start of his recovery, he could hardly move his thumb and index finger together, but he could still remember every word of Shakespeare’s complex role.

Derren Brown fans will be pleased to hear the illusionist is returning to the West End in June, bringing a new one-man show called Infamous to the Palace Theatre. Infamous is described as one of Brown’s most personal works and sees the master of mind control reunite with his close collaborator, actor, director and magician Andy Nyman.

More Oliviers news this week: an influx of American stars are bringing a touch of US glamour to the Royal Albert Hall ceremony, with Broadway stars and Glee co-actors Matthew Morrison and Idina Menzel both performing solo. Other stars whose attendance is confirmed include Kim Cattrall, Daniel Radcliffe, Damian Lewis, Petula Clark, Will Young and Heather Headley.

If you’re able to get to the free public Oliviers event stage in Covent Garden, you’ll be treated to special live performances from shows including Billy Elliot, Matilda, The Phantom Of The Opera, Wicked, Burn The Floor, Potted Potter and Some Like It Hip Hop, before seeing the ceremony on the live big screen relay.

Stephen Campbell MooreLondon Theatre Cast News

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What’s On This Weekend: 8-10 February 2013 Mon, 04 Feb 2013 10:43:13 +0000

London will be awash with colour this weekend: not only does Sunday see the vibrant Chinese New Year celebrations taking over Trafalgar Square, but Kew Gardens will also be filled with a rainbow of orchids. Elsewhere, you can see some of the world’s oldest art, take the whole family dancing or watch James McAvoy star in the Scottish play.

Ice Age Art: Arrival of the Modern Mind at the British Museum

Learn about the beginnings of art at this fascinating exhibition, which brings together works of Ice Age art from across Europe. Created more than 20,000 years ago, the works of portraiture and sculpture demonstrate the evolution of figurative art and humans’ enduring ability for creative expression. Not only does the exhibition contain striking works of ancient art, but modern masterpieces by artists such as Picasso, Henry Moore and Matisse are also displayed to demonstrate themes that span millennia. Adult tickets are £10. Until 26 May

Orchids at Kew Gardens

Kew’s Princess of Wales Conservatory is filled with an unseasonal burst of colour this month, as it hosts a four week long celebration of orchids. The glorious plants are arranged in a variety of captivating displays, with a centrepiece that pays tribute to the majestic giant water lily. Adult tickets are £14.50; children 16 and under are admitted free of charge. Until 3 Mar

Chinese New Year in Trafalgar Square

Celebrate the Chinese Year of the Snake on Sunday with a colourful parade and celebrations that will light up the West End. London’s Chinese New Year celebrations are the world’s largest outside China and centre around a lively stage in Trafalgar Square, from which fireworks will be released at the end of the day. Don’t miss the parade to Chinatown’s Rupert Street, which leaves the square at 10am. 10 Feb

Macbeth at Trafalgar Studios

Bafta-winning actor James McAvoy, famous for starring in films such as Atonement, Wanted and X-Men: First Class, takes to the stage as Macbeth in a new production of Shakespeare’s renowned tragedy. The play follows the Scottish Lord Macbeth in his murderous quest for power, and is considered one of the bard’s darkest plays. Tickets start at £10. Until 27 Apr

Family Barn Dance at Cecil Sharp House

Deal with your children’s half-term high spirits at this energetic afternoon of British country dancing. Commencing at 3pm, the barn dance features live music and a caller to guide you through the lively steps. Tickets start from £3 and adults must be accompanied by children, see the website for full details. 10 Feb

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Six New London Theatre Shows to Look Forward To In 2013 Wed, 02 Jan 2013 17:30:36 +0000 I’ve already flagged up some of the fantastic musicals coming to London this year. Here’s a list for those of you who prefer your plays “straight”. (Or simply hate musicals…!)

Many of 2012′s theatrical highlights were Shakespearean. The World Shakespeare Festival created some amazing dramatic moments, from Stephen Fry’s yellow stockings at The Globe to a Julius Caesar set in modern day Africa from the RSC. There were also triumphs for Sheridan Smith as Hedda Gabler, and some impressive displays of stamina in the 8-hour GATZ.

Theatre in London is more exciting than ever in 2013. There’s plenty more Shakespeare for you to look forward to, as well as some newer treats. Here are just some of the shows I’m looking forward to in the coming months:

Quartermaine's Terms1. Quartermaine’s Terms, Wyndham’s Theatre from 23 Jan
See Rowan Atkinson return to the London stage for the first time in 25 years this month. He’s starring as the well-meaning but hopeless teacher St John Quartermaine in Simon Gray’s tragicomedy at Wyndham’s Theatre. Quartermaine’s Terms is set in a 1960s English language school and is a humorous but moving account of several years in the lives of seven teachers.

2. Old Times, Harold Pinter Theatre from 12 Jan
If you enjoyed watching the BBC adaptation of Restless over the Christmas holidays, here’s a chance to catch the ever-brilliant Rufus Sewell in the flesh. He’s playing opposite Kristin Scott Thomas and Lia Williams in Harold Pinter’s erotically charged and compelling drama, Old Times. Directed by Ian Rickson, Old Times will be the first Harold Pinter play to be staged at the newly named Harold Pinter Theatre.

Macbeth3. Macbeth, Trafalgar Studios from 9 Feb
Another month, another big name comes to the West End. From February, you can see James McAvoy, best known for his big-screen roles in films like Atonement and The Last King of Scotland playing Macbeth, directed by Jamie Lloyd at the Trafalgar Studios. This Macbeth is part of a longer season of political plays under the banner “Trafalgar Transformed”.

4. The Audience, Gielgud Theatre from 15 Feb
If you’re a fan of 2006 film The Queen, you’ll love The Audience opening at the Gielgud later this year. Like that film, The Audience is also written by Peter Morgan, and stars Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II. Directed by Stephen Daldry, The Audience imagines the weekly meetings between The Queen and her 12 Prime Ministers. Look out for Haydn Gwynne as Thatcher, Robert Hardy as Churchill and Rufus Wright as David Cameron.

Peter And Alice5. Peter And Alice, Noel Coward Theatre from 9 Mar
In March, the Michael Grandage Company presents Peter And Alice, a new play exploring a meeting between the real-life inspirations for Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan. Written by John Logan, Peter And Alice is the story of Alice Liddell Hargreaves and Peter Llewelyn Davies who meet at the opening of a Lewis Carroll exhibition in 1932. It stars Judi Dench and Ben Whishaw as the eponymous leads.

6. Relatively Speaking, Wyndham’s Theatre from 14 May
Following the success of A Chorus of Disapproval, another Alan Ayckbourn play opens in the West End in May. Relatively Speaking stars Felicity Kendal, Kara Tointon, Jonathan Coy and Max Bennett at Wyndham’s Theatre in what’s sure to be a brilliant comedy of British manners.

What London theatre shows are you looking forward to in 2013? Let us know in the comments below.

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London Theatre News: Loserville; West Side Story; ZooNation; Book of Mormon; plus Rufus Hound and Faye Tozer Thu, 15 Nov 2012 18:10:35 +0000

Musical news to start: firstly, the sad news that Loserville will be leaving the West End early. The Elliot Davis and James Bourne musical based around teenage geeks in the 1970s was full of bouncy energy, but alas, it’s closing in early January instead of March. Rumour suggests it’s headed abroad, so fans of the show might be able to see it elsewhere…

However, there’s happier news of a new musical coming to the West End: The Tailor-Made Man runs at The Arts Theatre for eight weeks from February. The story of the gay MGM star William Haines refusing to marry another movie star to cover up his sexuality has been turned into a musical by Showstopper co-creator Adam Meggido. It will star former Steps popstrel Faye Tozer and West End regular Dylan Turner.

Finally this week, some fun Sadler’s Wells news. Two more productions have been announced for the venue’s 15th birthday season. From 7 August, you can see the 2008 production of West Side Story; and from May, innovative dance company ZooNation are bringing their 2011 hit Some Like It Hip Hop back to London, to Sadler’s Wells’ West End stage at the Peacock Theatre.

London Theatre Cast News:

Have you enjoyed any great theatre in London recently? Let us know in the comments below.

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Thursday Theatre News: The Queen, In Basildon, Carley Stenson, Jason Manford and Jonathan Ansell Thu, 08 Mar 2012 18:23:07 +0000 Firstly, news that The Queen’s been enjoying the brilliance of London’s West End this week. HRH attended a performance of One Man, Two Guvnors at the Theatre Royal Haymarket.

The Queen attended the comedy show with Prince Philip, their grandson Peter Phillips and his wife Autumn. She avoided attracting attention from the royal box, instead entered the foyer unannounced shortly before curtain up and sat among the rest of the audience, many of whom reportedly saw our monarch “giggling through the performance”, according to the Official London Theatre website. I’m so pleased she’s been able to see this show: I’ve been recommending it to everyone I know for ages! It’s a real hit, and I’m sure her Majesty thought the same.

And I bring news of an extension at the Royal Court: In Basildon has received rave reviews, and will now play until 5 April. The story of a working-class man on his death bed, In Basildon explores the complications of inheritance and the myth of place. It’s directed by Dominic Cooke, and stars Linda Bassett, who is known for her TV appearances in Larkrise To Candleford and Grandma’s House.

Next up, a new solo show at the Trafalgar Studios. Chris Larner’s award-winning An Instinct For Kindness plays at the Trafalgar Studios for three weeks this spring. The play takes on the contentious topic of assisted suicide, telling the story of Larner’s 2010 journey to the Switzerland Dignitas clinic with his chronically ill ex-wife. The Fringe First Award-winning show plays from 10 April to 28 April, following a critically acclaimed run at the 2011 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The Independent described An Instinct For Kindness as, “Intensely moving, at times overwhelming”.

London Theatre Casting News:

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Thursday Theatre News: RSC, Omid Djalili, Shrek and The Globe’s West End Transfer Thu, 01 Mar 2012 18:00:30 +0000 Firstly, news of one of my favourite theatre company’s coming to the West End this year. The ever-brilliant Royal Shakespeare Company are bringing David Edgar’s Written on the Heart to the Duchess Theatre for a strictly limited run, opening on Shakespeare’s birthday: 23 April.

RSC veterans Oliver Ford Davies and Stephen Boxer will star in the drama, which marks the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible. Edgar’s play tells the story of two men translating the word of God into English: for one, it means death at the stake, for the other, it could bring an archbishop’s mitre.

Another exciting piece of transfer news this week: Mark Rylance’s Shakespeare’s Globe productions Richard III and Twelfth Night (the latter starring Stephen Fry) are moving to the Apollo Theatre in the West End from 2 November. It’s a long time to wait, but I think tickets are going to sell fast, so be quick if you want to see these shows!

An earlier play for your calendars is What The Butler Saw, also announced this week. Comic Omid Djalili, who you might’ve seen in Oliver at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane a couple of years’ ago, will lead the cast of this new production. What The Butler Saw is a comedy of twists, coincidences and sharp one-liners, by Joe Orton, and will play at the Vaudeville Theatre from 4 May to 25 August.

Fans of The Inbetweeners should look out for Blake Harrison (Neil from the show) making his West End debut in Rob Hayes’s Step 9 (Of 12) at the Trafalgar Studios, also in May. Step 9 (Of 12) sees Harrison playing Keith, a drug and alcohol addict, apologising for his past. But as his earlier actions are assessed, it becomes clear they have shocking repercussions for the present.

Finally, Shrek The Musical has announced a new “school night” performance schedule: starting Wednesday night shows at the more kid-friendly time of 7pm. The team have also introduced a new family ticket package for Wednesday and Thursday evening performances with prices starting at £99, making it more affordable for families to see the hit show.

And on 16 May, Shrek will play a special, relaxed performance for children with special needs: tickets are free for the kids, and just £5 for adults. This one-off show is presented by theatre educational charity, Mousetrap Theatre Projects. For more info on the work they do, check out their website.

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Thursday Theatre News: Simon Callow, Complicite, Tara Fitzgerald and Jill Halfpenny Thu, 12 Jan 2012 19:00:43 +0000 This week’s theatre news includes a lot of casting news. But first, the new plays that have come to my attention this week:

Simon Callow is bringing his one-man show, Being Shakespeare, back to London in March, for a strictly limited run. He’ll be at the Trafalgar Studios from 7 to 31 March, bringing a multitude of the bard’s most famous creations to life. It’ll be the perfect warm-up for the World Shakespeare Festival which kicks off the following month.

Another March date for your diaries is Thursday 15, when Complicite and Simon McBurney return to the Barbican (following the success of Shun-Kin and A Disappearing Number) with a new English adaptation of Master and Margarita. It’s a stage adaptation of Mikhail Bulgakov’s rich magical realist novel about the struggle between evil and compassion. I’m a big fan of Complicite’s work, so I’m really looking forward to seeing this one.

Finally, the Reduced Shakespeare Company are back for in London in 2012, bringing The Complete World of Sports (abridged) to the Arts Theatre for a six-week run from 18 July to 25 August, to coincide with the London 2012 Olympic Games. The show’s described as “every sport even played on every continent in the entire history of the world in under two hours!”. It’s a clever idea from clever boys, and I wish them luck!

London Casting News

More next week…

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Thursday Theatre News: Wind in the Willows, One Man Two Guvnors, Jaime Winstone and Kara Tointon Thu, 15 Dec 2011 18:00:17 +0000 Firstly, news of a new musical, which is always, er, music to my ears… The Wind in the Willows is the next project for Julian Fellowes, George Stiles and Anthony Drew, the award-winning team behind Mary Poppins.

Fellowes, now best-known for creating Downton Abbey, (but don’t forget he was also responsible for wonderful work like Gosford Park, The Young Victoria and The Importance of Being Earnest) will write the musical’s book. Writing duo Stiles and Drewe are developing the music and lyrics. The pair have worked together for 28 years, creating successful shows like Betty Blue Eyes, Just So and Peter Pan. I’m looking forward to being able to tell you more about this show; as yet, there are no dates or venues for its London premiere.

Second, details of a transfer. It seems London just can’t get enough of the uber-successful One Man, Two Guvnors. First, it transferred from the National to the West End. Then, rumours the team had booked tickets to Broadway. And today, we have news it’s moving again, this time to the Theatre Royal Haymarket. There’ll be a change of lead as Owain Arthur takes over from James Corden as the One Man of the title. The rest of the casting is yet to be announced.

Finally, the Lyric Hammersmith’s 2012 programme has been announced. Edward Bond returns to the theatre with a trilogy of short plays called The Chair Plays. In addition, there’ll be a collaboration between Spymonkey and Kneehigh Artistic Director Emma Rice, called Oedipussy; Lovesong; Filter’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream; and Three Kingdoms (part of the London-wide World Stages London festival).

Cast News:

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