Halloween is over with the close of October and Christmas is still nearly two months away, so as people strive to busy themselves between the two, why not help to pass the time by taking in a little theatre? November brings with it a rich array of new stage productions, and here we lend a guiding hand as we preview some of the best incomers to the West End:
ROOM ON THE BROOM:
Olivia Jacobs and Toby Mitchell have created a musical adaption of Room On The Broom, a book by Children’s Laureate Julia Donaldson and illustrator Axel Scheffler. Audiences can join a witch and her cat as she flies into adventure on her broomstick. When a mighty wind steals away her hat, bow and wand, she is helped in finding them by a daft dog, a beautiful bird and a friendly frog – this broomstick is not meant to carry five though and it snaps in half. With a hungry dragon on the prowl, will someone save the witch? Produced by Kenny Wax and Nick Brooke, in association with Tall Stories, the children’s musical is aimed at ages 3-8 and features puppet design by Yvonne Stone. Co-writer Jacobs directs the four-strong cast of Morag Cross (Witch), David Garrud (Dog/Frog), Sam Donovan (Bird/Dragon) and Emma MacLennan (Cat). Opening at the Lyric Theatre on 21st November 2012, Room On The Broom plays until 13th January 2013.
STICK MAN – LIVE ON STAGE:
This children’s drama is an adaption of another of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s books, the popular Stick Man. While out for a jog, Stick Man is taken by a playful dog and, mistaken for an ordinary stick, is swept away on a journey which sees him used as a flag mast, a snowman’s arm and almost becoming firewood. Lost so far from home, will Stick Man ever get back to the family tree? Sally Cookson directs this Scamp Theatre and Watford Palace co-production, which features Joseph Carey (Musician), Mark Kane (Stick Man) and Emily Pollett (Stick Lady Love). Music is by Benji Bower. Aimed for children aged 3+, Stick Man will open on 17th November 2012 at the Leicester Square Theatre and runs until 6th January 2013.
ALL THAT FALL:
Samuel Beckett’s radio play has never been seen in London before, but now Trevor Nunn is to direct this new stage production at the Arts Theatre. All That Fall the old and unwieldy ‘Mrs Rooney’ as she sets off to meet her blind husband from a railway station to guide him home. A man with a dung cart, a man with a bicycle, a man who offers her a lift in his motor car and a church-struck spinster who helps her up the station steps are the people she meets along the way. Produced by Richard Darbourne, Thelma Holt and Gene David Kirk in its transfer from the Jermyn Street Theatre, the cast features Eileen Atkins, Michael Gambon, Oliver Barry-Brook, Ruairi Conaghan, Ian Conningham, Catherine Cusack, Aidan Dunlop, Frank Grimes, James Hayes and Gerard Horan. Previews for All That Fall begin at the Arts Theatre on 6th November 2012. It opens on 8th November 2012 and closes there on 24th November 2012.
GOODNIGHT MISTER TOM:
Michelle Magorian’s classic novel receives a new adaption here by David Wood. Goodnight Mister Tom is set in the dark days leading up to World War II and follows the young, sad William Beech, who is evacuated to the countryside and there forms a moving friendship with elderly recluse Tom Oakley. Their time together is borrowed time however, and soon, William’s mother summons him back to London. Fiery Angel, The Ambassador Theatre Group, Fiery Dragons and the Children’s Touring Partnership present this Chichester Festival Theatre Production, which is directed by Angus Jackson. Oliver Ford Davies plays ‘Mister Tom’ in a cast which also includes Louise Collins, Joanne Howarth, Aoife McMahon, Freya Parker, Georgina Sutton, Alan Vicary, Jonathan Warde, Emma Drysdale, Elisa de Grey, Bradley Hall and Osmund Bullock. Six child performers alternate the roles of the young ‘William’ and ‘Zack’. Goodnight Mister Tom begins previews on 22nd November 2012 at the Phoenix Theatre and opens on 27th November 2012. It runs until 26th January 2013.
The Young Vic Theatre presents this in-house production of The Changeling, by Thomas Middleton and William Rowley. In this tale of love and sex, the beautiful Beatrice-Joanna hires the deplorable De Flores to kill her betrothed in order to free herself from the marriage her father has arranged. It’s not until after the deed is done however, that she discovers De Flores is after something far more precious than money or jewels as a reward. Directed by Joe Hill-Gibbins, the cast features Sinead Matthews (Beatrice-Joanna), Harry Hadden-Paton (Alsemero), Zubin Varla (De Flores), Alex Beckett (Lollio/Jasperino), Nick Lee (Antonio/Tomazo), Alex Lowe (Alibius/Alonzo), Eleanor Matsuura (Isabella/Diaphanta) and Howard Ward (Vermandero). The Changeling begins previews on 20th November 2012 at the Young Vic Theatre. It opens on 26th November 2012 and closes on 15th December 2012.
Charles Dickens’ 1843 novel A Christmas Carol has been immortalised as a classic work of literature. There have been many adaptions of the yuletide tale, the latest of which is the stage musical of Scrooge. The ghosts of Christmas past, present and future have come to visit the miserly ‘Ebenezer Scrooge’ at the London Palladium this year, in the musical production from Bill Kenwright. Featuring book, music and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse, Scrooge is directed by Bob Thompson and features illusions by Paul Kieve, with Tommy Steele once again taking on the title role. Already in its preview period, the musical officially opens at the Palladium on 6th November 2012 and is currently booking until 5th January 2013.
OUR HOUSE – GALA CONCERT:
Tim Firth’s Our House is a romantic comedy, featuring the music of Madness. It tells the story of ‘Joe Casey’, his friends and girlfriend ‘Sarah’ and is set on the night he attempts to impress her by committing a petty crime. The audience follow ‘Joe’ down two paths that the event could cause his life to take: one if he stays to face the music when the police arrive on the scene and the other if he decides to run. Featuring such songs as ‘Baggy Trousers’, ‘It Must Be Love’, ‘My Girl’ and the title number, this one-night-only performance is to be held in aid of the charity Help For Heroes. Matthew Warchus directs the line-up of performers, which includes Alistair McGowan, Tameka Empson, Wendi Peters, Chris Carswell, Miria Parvin, Jack Shaloo, Jenny Fitzpatrick, Matt Cross, Greg Airey, Georgie Ashford, Lauren Appleby, Kara Bayer, Gabrielle Brooks, Dougie Carter, Debbie Jenkins, Paul Kemble, Lewis Krik, Kayleigh Louise-Smith, Michael Melmoe, Jenny O’Leary, Carryl Thomas, Gavin Wilkinson and Suggs in the role of Joe’s dad. The gala concert of Our House takes place at the Savoy Theatre on 11th November 2012.
Playwright Alan Bennett’s new work, People, comes to the National Theatre this winter. “People spoil things; there are so many of them and the last thing one wants is them traipsing through one’s house. But with the park a jungle and a bath on the billiard table, what is one to do? Dorothy wonders if an attic sale could be a solution.” Directed by Nicholas Hytner, it stars Frances de la Tour in the role of ‘Dorothy’, alongside Selina Cadell, Peter Egan, Nicholas le Prevost, Frances Ashman, Philip Childs, Jack Chissick, Giles Cooper, Andy de la Tour, Jess Murphy, Alastair Parker and Robin Pearce. People began previews on Halloween and it opens at Lyttelton, National Theatre on 7th November 2012, playing there until 9th February 2013.
Rupert Goold directs this Headlong/National Theatre co-production of The Effect, written by Lucy Prebble. A four-strong cast lead in this drama which explores questions of sanity, neurology and he limits of modern medicine. Billie Piper stars alongside Tom Goodman-Hill, Anastasia Hille and Jonjo O’Neill. Previews begin at Cottesloe, National Theatre on 6th November 2012, opening on 13th November 2012. It plays there until 23rd January 2013.
RICHARD III/Twelfth Night:
Two of Shakespeare’s great works come in repertoire to the stage of the Apollo Theatre in all-male Original Practices productions from Shakespeare Globe, presented by Sonia Friedman Productions in association with Shakespeare Road.
Richard III, Shakespeare’s tragic play of the rise and fall of Richard III of England, is directed by Tim Carroll and stars Mark Rylance in the role of ‘Richard III’. The remainder of the characters are played by: Samuel Barnett (Elizabeth), Johnny Flynn (Lady Anne), Paul Chahidi (Hastings/Tyrrell ), James Garnon (Richmond and the Duchess of York ), Roger Lloyd Pack(Duke of Buckingham), Colin Hurley (King Edward and Stanley), Liam Brennan (Clarence/Lord Mayor ), Peter Hamilton Dyer (Brakenbury/Catesby), John Paul Conolly (First Murderer ), Ian Drysdale (Scrivener/Rivers/Blunt ), Jethro Skinner (Second Murderer) and Ben Thompson (Dorset). Richard III begins reviews at the Apollo Theatre on 6th November 2012. It opens there on 17th November 2012 and runs until 10th February 2013.
Twelfth Night is a comedy of gender confusion, in which a girl disguises herself as a man to be close to the Count who is the object of her affection. In a twist of irony however, she finds herself pursued by the woman he loves. Mark Rylance also stars here as ‘Olivia’, opposite Stephen Fry as ‘Malvolio’. The remainder of the characters are played by: Samuel Barnett (Sebastian) , Johnny Flynn (Viola), Liam Brennan (Orsino), Peter Hamilton Dyer (Feste), Colin Hurley (Sir Toby Belch), Paul Chahidi (Maria), James Garnon (Fabian), Roger Lloyd Pack (Sir Andrew Aguecheek ), John Paul Connolly (Antonio), Ian Drysdale (Priest/Valentine), Jethro Skinner (Captain), Ben Thompson (Curio). Twelfth Night begins previews at the Apollo Theatre on 2nd November 2012. It opens there on 17th November 2012 and runs until 9th February 2013.
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)
Thursday 1st November 2012