It will be December in just a few days, which serves as a reminder that Christmas is almost upon us. The seasonal holiday means something different to everyone, but for me, it symbolises family most of all. Spending quality time together over the Christmas period is one of the best things about it, but why wait until Christmas for that? Before Santa Claus is coming to town, a variety of new shows are. There are plenty of offerings suitable for the whole family, as well as a few treats just for the grown-ups, so take a look at the best new productions coming to the West End in this preview of London theatre in December.
One of the most talked-about theatre companies for their use of physical theatre and puppetry, Erth is bringing the acclaimed Dinosaur Zoo to the West End for Christmas. This interactive and imaginative family-themed show brings dinosaurs back to life as the audience are introduced to a range of creatures, from cute baby dinos to teeth-gnashing giants. Produced by BOS Productions Ltd and Nick Brooke Ltd, the puppet-based production is directed by Scott Wright and stars Lindsey Chaplin, Scott Wright, Hal Silvester, Steve Peck and Tina Jackson in the cast. Dinosaur Zoo had its first preview performance yesterday (27th November) and opens at the Phoenix Theatre on 1st December 2013, running there until 12th January 2014.
SEUSSICAL THE MUSICAL:
Generations of children have been delighted by the imagination of Dr Seuss, and now the weird and wonderful world that existed in his head can be enjoyed by today’s generation in this stage musical adaption. Here, the audience can follow popular character The Cat in the Hat through the ‘fantastical, bombastical and songtastical world of Dr Seuss’ in this fun-filled production from Sell A Door Theatre Company. Co-conceived by Lynn Ahrens, Steven Flaherty and Eric Idle, Seussical features a book by Ahrens and Flahery, with music also by Flaherty and lyrics by Ahrens. The cast for the musical includes Kirsty Marie Ayers, Ste Clough, Alastair Crosswell, Elliot Fitzpatrick, Benjamin Vivian-Jones, Thomas Lloyd, Jennifer Low, Shekinah McFarlane, Jessica Parker, Amy Punter, Tanya Shields and Jordan Veloso. Previews begin at the Arts Theatre from 30th November 2013. It opens on 4th December 2013 and runs until 5th January 2014.
This National Theatre production is the story of a little girl and her larger-than-life friend: the ghost-elephant. Life becomes a fun and thrilling adventure, but she soon realises that Elephantoms are a bit too big for the house as he starts causing a lot of trouble. Ben Power has adapted this from Ross Collins’ original story and Audrey Brisson, Laura Cubitt, David Emmings, Julia Innocenti, Avye Leventis and Tim Lewis star in the brand-new production. Finn Caldwell and Toby Olie direct the show, with Marianne Elliott serving as consultant director. The Elephantom starts previews from 10th December 2013 and opens in the NT’s temporary outside venue The Shed on 13th December 2013. It runs there until 11th January 2014.
THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS:
Kenneth Grahame’s 1908 novel is a classic piece of children’s literature, and this musical stage production based on the book is set to be just as memorable. Andrew Motion has written the narration for the show, while music is by Martin Ward. Creative Management and Productions (CMP) present this Royal Opera House production which tells of the adventures of four woodland friends – the reckless Toad and the long-suffering Ratty, Mole and Badger – through dance, song, music and puppetry. Director Will Tucket has also choreographed the show, which features Toby Olie’s puppet designs. Tony Robinson stars as Kenneth Grahame – The Narrator, with Cris Penfold as Toad, Will Kemp as Ratty, Clemmie Sveaas as Mole and Christopher Akrill as Badger. The rest of the cast includes Ewan Wardrop, Paul James Rooney, Kayleigh Gore, Connor Dowling, Kirsty Mather, Anna Martine, Jo Meredith and Aron Wild. The Wind and the Willows begins previews from 11th December 2013 at the Duchess Theatre. It opens there on 16th December 2013 and runs through until 1st February 2014.
It’s a high-speed journey through Dickens’ Greatest Hits in this comical production by Adam Long. Co-created with Alex Jackson-Long, the show features a cast of five Charles Dickens devotees who brings hundreds of the author’s best-loved characters to life in 90 minutes of ‘madcap Dickensian mayhem’. The audience can expect to see characters from such classic novels as Great Expectations, A Christmas Carol, David Copperfield, Bleak House, A Tale Of Two Cities, Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby, including Tiny Tim rocking the house with a soaring electric guitar solo. Produced by Simon Cummin for SJC Productions, Damian Humbley stars as the man himself, Charles Dickens, alongside Jon Robyns (Fagin, Scrooge and many other characters), Kit Orton (Miss Havisham, David Copperfield and many others), Gerard Carey (Tiny Tim, Oliver Twist and others), and Matthew Hendrickson (Mr. Micawber, The Ghost of Christmas Present and others). Show writer Adam Long also directs the production, which began previews at the Arts Theatre on 27th November 2013. It opens on 2nd December 2013 and closes on 5th January 2014.
A co-creation by Daniel Clarkson, Richard Hurst and Jefferson Turner, Potted Panto crams eight classic pantos in one 80 minute show. Hurst directs Clarkson and Turner in this show which includes Cinderella in 3D, (with the debut of the Fairy Godchicken) and Dick Whittington with mallets and custard pie. The audience are also treated to a whole new twist on Aladdin, a heart-tugging performance from Jack and The Beanstalk’s Daisy the Cow, and full-scale versions of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty in which the two cast members try to figure out how they can play seven dwarves and also argue over who makes the prettiest princess. Produced by Seabright Productions, the Vaudeville Theatre hosts Potted Panto from 11th December 2013 to 5th January 2014 (previews from 8th December).
LET THE RIGHT ONE IN:
Based on the original book and film by John Ajvide Lindqvist, the Royal Court Theatre presents this all-new stage adaption of the Swedish love story by John Thorpe. This coming-of-age tale centres on a lonely, bullied teenage boy named Oskar and Eli, a ‘young’ girl who moves in next door as a spate of sinister killings rock the neighbourhood. Eli doesn’t go to school and never leaves the flat by day, but the two become devoted friends as they sense in each other a kindred spirit. What Oskar doesn’t know though, is that Eli is actually a centuries-old vampire. John Tiffany directs the National Theatre of Scotland production, which premiered at the Dundee Rep in June and sees Rebecca Benson and Martin Quinn reprise their starring roles of Eli and Oskar. Produced with Marla Rubin Productions Ltd and Bill Kenwright in association with the Royal Court Theatre, Let The Right One In begins previews at the theatre’s downstairs space tomorrow (29th November). It opens on 5th December 2013 and runs until 21st December 2013, ahead of a West End transfer.
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST:
This re-telling of a famous fairytale is inspired by the real-life love story of Mat Fraser and Julie Atlas Muz, who met in Coney Island on one magical night whilst appearing in a burlesque show. The duo appear in the cast alongside Jonny Dixon and Jess Mabel Jones, in this exciting new show which features full male and female nudity. Directed by Phelim McDermott, this Young Vic Theatre production is co-produced with Improbable and is residing at the Young Vic’s The Maria throughout December. Previews begin from 4th December 2013 and it opens on 9th December 2013, running until 21st December 2013.
Bret Easton Ellis’ 1991 novel inspired a film version of the same name, starring Christian Bale as wealthy investment banker, Patrick Bateman. Now it has inspired a musical adaption, which features a book by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and music and lyrics by Duncan Sheik. Set in 1980’s Manhattan, the story follows Bateman who is living the high life; he and his circle of equally wealthy, shallow friends buy the most expensive designer suits, eat at the most exclusive restaurants and party at the trendiest clubs. What none of them know however, is that he is also living a secret life as a serial killer. Doctor Who star Matt Smith leads the cast as Patrick Bateman, appearing alongside Ben Aldridge, Charlie Anson, Jonathan Bailey, Katie Brayben, Cassandra Compton, Holly Dale Spencer, Susannah Fielding, Simon Gregor, Holly James, Lucie Jones, Tom Kay, Gillian Kirkpatrick, Eugene McCoy, Hugh Skinner. Directed by Rupert Goold and featuring choreography by Lynne Page and musical direction from David Shrubsole, it is an Almeida co-production with Headlong in association with David Johnson and Jesse Singer for Act 4 Entertainment. Previews for American Psycho start from 3rd December 2013 at the Almeida Theatre. It opens there on 12th December 2013 and is running til 25th January 2014.
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new musical offering is inspired by the Profumo Affair, the 1963 political scandal that shocked society. The show only briefly touches on the affair between Minister of War John Profumo and call-girl Christine Keeler, instead portraying the man who introduced them as the real victim of the scandal as it follows the trial of Stephen Ward. Christopher Hampton and Don Black provide the book and lyrics to accompany Lloyd Webber’s score, in this original production directed by Richard Eyre. Alexander Hanson stars as the scape-goated Stephen Ward, alongside Charlotte Spence (Christine Keeler), Charlotte Blackledge (Mandy Rice Davies), Anthony Calf (Lord Astor), Daniel Flynn (John Profumo), Joanna Riding (Valerie Hobson), Ian Conningham (Ivanov), Chris Howell (Murray), Ricardo Coke Thomas ( Lucky Gordon) and Wayne Robinson (Johnny Edgecomp). The rest of the company is comprised of Martin Callaghan, Kate Coyston, Jason Denton, Julian Forsyth, Amy Griffiths, Paul Kemble, Emma Kate Nelson, Carl Sanderson, Emily Squibb, John Stacey, Helen Ternent and Tim Walton. Featuring choreography by Stephen Mear and costumes by Rob Howell, Stephen Ward makes its world premiere at the Aldwych Theatre on 19th December 2013 (previews from 3rd December). It is currently booking until 1st March 2014.
FROM MORNING TO MIDNIGHT:
Georg Kaiser’s dramatic play returns to the West End in this all-new National Theatre production by Dennis Kelly. It explores the tragedy of an ordinary man who steps outside his humdrum life and, over the course of one crazy, alienating day, destroys himself. Led by his lust for an exotically-perfumed woman from Florence, a trusted bank clerk of twenty-five years’ standing shoves a stolen fortune in his pocket and runs to her hotel, where his ludicrous advances are rejected. But, he’s broken free and there’s no turning back. He ditches his family and their bourgeois existence to embark on a roller-coaster odyssey, scouring the city’s senseless entertainments in an increasingly disillusioned search for an experience worth buying and a reason for living. Melly Still directs a company comprised of Adam Godley, , Esh Alladi, Gina Bellman, Christian From, Robert Gilbert, Kezrena James, Éva Magyar, Katherine Manners, Dan Milne, Zackary Momoh, Victoria Moseley, Emily Mytton, Jack Tarlton, Jason Thorpe, Emily Wachter, and Kelly Williams. From Morning To Midnight began previews at Lyttelton, NT on 19th November 2013. It opens there on 6th December 2013 and runs until 26th January 2014.
This powerful drama explores the reality of the Occupy movement through the use of a monologue by Tim Price which, based on a true story, allows the audience inside a remarkable political moment. It is told by Danny, who has slept rough on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral for years. He wakes one morning to see a canvas city being erected in front of him and finds himself swept up in the last occupation of London. Stage and screen star Rhys Ifans makes a solo appearance as Danny, under the direction of Polly Findlay. Previews for Protest Song begin at the National Theatre’s temporary outside venue, The Shed, from 16th December 2013. It opens on the 19th December 2013 and runs through until 11th January 2014.
Jude Law stars as the title character in this new production of Shakespeare’s classic play by the Michael Grandage Company. Amidst the bloody horrors of war and the turbulence of a land in crisis, King Henry V must attempt to hold his nerve as he tries to embrace his duty, command his men and lead his country to victory in France. Directed by Michael Grandage, Law leads the company which also features Harry Attwell (Grey/Gower), Jason Baughan (Bardolph/Bates M. Le Fer), Norman Bowman (Nym/Williams), Jessie Buckley (Princess Katharine), Richard Clifford (Ely/King Charles VI), Ron Cook (Pistol), Ian Drysdale (Cambridge/Constable), Noma Dumezweni (Mistress Quickly/Alice), Michael Hadley (Canterbury), Edward Harrison (Westmoreland), Christopher Heyward (Macmorris/Orleans), James Laurenson (Exeter), Ben Lloyd-Hughes (Dauphin/Scroop), Prasanna Puwanarajah (Mountjoy), Matt Ryan (Fluellen) and Ashley Zhangazha (Chorus/Boy). Currently in previews at the Noel Coward Theatre (from 23rd November), Henry V opens on 3rd December 2013 and runs until 15th February 2014.
Following its acclaimed run in Stratford-Upon-Avon, this RSC production transfers into the West End this December for a limited run. Stage and screen actor David Tennant stars as Richard II, the man ordained by God to lead his people. He is also a man of very human weakness however, and his vanity threatens to divide the great houses of England and drag his people into a dynastic civil war that will last 100 years. This production of the great Shakespearean play is directed by Gregory Doran and features Oliver Ford Davies (Duke of York), Nigel Lindsay (Bolingbroke), Michael Pennington (John of Gaunt), Elliot Barnes-Worrell (Groom), Antony Byrne (Mowbray), Sean Chapman (Northumberland), Marty Cruickshank (Duchess of York), Gracy Goldman (Lady in Waiting), Marcus Griffiths (Greene), Emma Hamilton (The Queen), Jim Hooper (Bishop of Carlisle), Youssef Kerkour (Willoughby), Jane Lapotaire (Duchess of Gloucester), Jake Mann (Bagot), Sam Marks (Bushy), Miranda Nolan (Lady in Waiting), Keith Osborn (Scroop), Joshua Richards (Ross/Lord Marshall), Oliver Rix (Aumerle), Simon Thorp (Salisbury) and Edmund Wiseman (Harry Percy) in the cast alongside Tennant. Richard II begins previews at the Barbican Theatre from 9th December 2013. It opens on 12th December 2013 and runs until 25th January 2014.
When an old adversary threatens Rome, the city calls once more on her hero and defender: Coriolanus. But he has enemies at home too. Famine threatens the city, the citizens’ hunger swells to an appetite for change, and on returning from the field Coriolanus must confront the march of realpolitik and the voice of an angry people. Shakespeare’s Coriolanus comes to the Donmar Warehouse as an in-house production, directed by Josie Rourke. The impressive cast is led by stage actor and Thor star Tom Hiddleston in the title role, alongside Mark Gatiss (Menenius), Jacqueline Boatswain (Valeria), Peter De Jersey (Cominius), Alfred Enoch (Titus Lartius), Deborah Findlay (Volumnia), Hadley Fraser (Aufidius), Rochenda Sandall (Ensemble) and Birgitte Hjort Sorensen (Virgilia). Previews begin at the Donmar Warehouse from 6th December 2013. Coriolanus opens on 17th December 2013 and runs until 8th February 2014.
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)
Thursday 28th November 2013