London Theatre Preview: April 2015

It’s a new month, which brings with it 30 more days and a whole bunch of new shows in the West End. Joining the current crop of hit productions are a number of new musicals and plays, and here we have listed the top picks to help guide you through the next crop of shows coming to the West End in April.


The Royal Shakespeare Company and English Touring Theatre’s production of A Mad World My Masters is currently in the middle of an 8-venue national tour, which ends with its performances at the Cambridge Arts Theatre between 21st and 25th April 2015. The show then transfers into the West End for a final run at the Barbican Theatre. ‘London’s Soho, 1956. Here, glamour rubs up against filth, and it likes it! The posh mix with musicians, whores, and racketeers (virginity is no city trade), and the dashingly cash-strapped bachelor, Richard Follywit, in pursuit of quick cash and a good time has to live on his wits…’ Written by Thomas Middleton, the play’s script has been edited by Phil Porter and Sean Foley, the latter of which also directs this latest production. The cast includes: Charlie Archer (Master Whopping Prospect), Joe Bannister (Dick Follywit), Ellie Beaven (Mrs Littledick), Ishia Bennison (Mrs Kidman), Christopher Chilton (Constable/Caretaker/Squodge), Ben Deery (Mr Littledick), Dennis Herdman (Penitent Brothel), Linda John Pierre (Singer), Pearl Mackie (Prostitute/Clothes Swap Girl), Lois Meleri-Jones (Prostitute), Lee Mengo (Oboe), Michael Moreland (Sponger), Nicholas Prasad (Master Muchly Minted), Sarah Quist (Waitress/Prostitute/Moka Owner), Ian Redford (Sir Bounteous Peersucker), Sarah Ridgeway (Truly Kidman), David Rubin (Spunky/Detective), Bertie Taylor-Smith (Waiter/Servant) and Jonny Weldon (Waiter/Servant). A comedic play featuring music, A Mad World My Masters opens at the Barbican Theatre on 27th April 2015 and ends its limited run there on 9th May 2015.


The Donmar Warehouse has been on something of a roll lately, after the recent success of City of Angels and its current production, Closer. At the end of April, the Donmar stages The Vote, a new play for theatre and television by James Graham which is set in a fictional London polling station and dramatises the final 90 minutes before the polls close in this year’s general election. On that exact day, May 7, at that precise time 8.30 – 10pm, the play will be broadcast live on More4 from the Donmar stage. ‘The Vote looks at what happens in Britain on election night through the eyes  of those at the polling station. Every five years we assert our right as citizens to uphold or replace our government – but, characteristically, we do it in the most unremarkable and understated of ways – at local parish churches, primary schools, and community centres across the country.’ This innovative play is a first for theatre and television, produced by the Donmar Warehouse, directed by Josie Rourke, and also featuring choreography by Stephen Mear and music by Michael Bruce. The cast includes an array of big-name stars of both stage and screen, wth the full line-up featuring Fisayo Akinade, Jade Anouka, Madalena Alberto, Nicholas Burns, Paul Chahidi, Jackie Clune, Pandora Colin, Rosalie Craig, Heather Craney, Judi Dench, Rachel Denning, Hadley Fraser, Mark Gatiss, Llewella Gideon, Alice Hewkin, Kadiff Kirwin, Aicha Kossoko, Wanda Opalinska, Bill Paterson, Prasanna Puwanarajah, Nina Sosanya, Catherine Tate, Yusra Warsama, Timothy West and Finty Williams. The Vote runs for two weeks in the lead-up to the live broadcast, opening at the Donmar on 24th April 2015 with performances continuing there until 6th May 2015.

David Mamet’s American Buffalo returns to the West End in the highly anticipated new production, produced by Playful Productions and Jeffrey Richards. ‘As three small-time crooks, Donny Dubrow, Walter ‘Teach’ Cole and Bobby plan one big-time heist, a tragedy of errors spins this razor-sharp and darkly funny play into a blistering account of divided loyalties, insatiable greed…and a coveted Buffalo nickel.’ Described as one of the playwright’s masterpieces, the award-winning classic has been revived for the West End for a limited 10-week run, with an all-star cast that features Wolf Hall actor Damian Lewis, joined by acting legend John Goodman in his stage début and up-and-coming talent Tom Sturridge. Directed by Daniel Evans, it opens at the Wyndham’s Theatre on 27th April 2015 following a preview period (from 16th April) and runs until 27th June 2015.


The musical adaptions of Roald Dahl’s beloved books, Matilda and Charlie and The Chocolate Factory continue to draw in an audience in the West End, and now another of the author’s popular stories has been adapted for the stage as The Twits heads into town. ‘Mr and Mrs Twit are not very nice. In fact they’re extremely nasty. They’re nasty to each other, and they’re VILE to everyone else. They hold a family of monkeys hostage in a cage and force them to stand on their heads. ALL THE TIME. We told you they weren’t very nice. Can the monkeys find a way to show those vicious Twits what for?’ Roald Dahl’s book has been adapted by Enda Walsh, who turns The Twits upside down and brings this revolting revolution to the Royal Court Theatre stage. John Tiffany directs the in-house production, which stars John Watkins (Mr Twit), Monica Dolan (Mrs Twit), Sam Cox (Yorkshire Terrier Man), Cait Davis (Monkey Mum), Aimee-Ffion Edwards (Monkey Daughter), Christine Entwisle (Tatooed Fortune Teller Lady), Oliver Llewellyn-Jenkins (Monkey Son), Glyn Pritchard (Monkey Father) and Dwane Walcott (Shy Waltzer Boy). The Roald Dahl classic starts previews from 7th April 2015 at the Royal Court Theatre – Jerwood Theatre Downstairs, opening there on 14th April 2015 and running through until 31st May 2015.


The critically-acclaimed production of Gypsy that ran at Chichester Festival Theatre last year finally arrives in the West End this month, adding another notch to the CFT’s belt of successful musicals that have transferred from Chichester to London. Jonathan Kent directs the revival of the 1959 musical, which features music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by Arthur Laurents. ‘Based on the true life memoirs of legendary burlesque entertainer, Gypsy Rose Lee, it tells the tale of Momma Rose and her two daughters, Baby June and Louise, trekking across America in their family vaudeville act. But times are changing, audiences expecting more, and the two girls have their own ambitions in mind. The rise of burlesque is upon them, and nothing will ever be the same again for Momma Rose.’ Produced by Chichester Festival Theatre, Michael Harrison and David Ian, the show includes choreography by Stephen Mear and is led by the CFT’s former Sweeney Todd star, Imelda Staunton, as Momma Rose. She stars alongside fellow cast mates Lara Pulver (Louise), Peter Davison (Herbie), Gemma Sutton (June), Dan Burton (Tulsa), Billy Hartman (Uncle Jocko), Jack Chissack (Mr Goldstone), Anita Louise Combe (Tessie Tura), Harry Dickman (Pop), Lucinda Shaw (Mother), Roger Dipper (L.A.), Louise Gold (Mazeppa), Clare Halse (Marjorie May), Tom Hodgkins (Mr Weber), Kieran Jae (Yonkers), Julie Legrand (Electra), Danielle Morris (Geraldine), Luke Street (Little Rock), Damien Poole (Kansas), Lauren Hall (Delores) and Natalie Woods (Agnes), in addition to ensemble members Liz Ewing, Lauren Ingram, Tom Murphy and Phillip Catchpole. Gypsy, which is currently in its preview period (from 28th March), returns to London for the first time in 40 years to open at the Savoy Theatre on 15th April 2015. The show is booking until 18th July 2015.


‘Revolution, faith and the battle for the soul of England’ – this NT drama is the story of the revolution we never had and the legacy it left behind. It’s set in England during the aftermath of a bloody and  and brutal civil war, when food shortages, economic instability and a corrupt political system threaten to plunge the country into darkness and despair. ‘The Parliament men who fought against the tyranny of the King now argue for stability and compromise, but the people are hungry for change. For a brief moment, a group of rebels, preachers, soldiers and dissenters dare to imagine an age of hope, a new Jerusalem in which freedom will be restored to the land.’ Written by Caryl Churchill, the in-house production is directed by Lyndsey Turner and stars Trystan Gravelle, Joshua James, Amanda Lawrence, Ashley McGuire, Simon Manyonda and Alan Williams. It also features choreography by Joseph Alford and music by Helen Chadwick. Light Shining In Buckinghamshire begins previews at Lyttelton, NT from 15th April 2015. It opens on 23rd April 2015 and runs until 22nd June 2015.

‘Everyman is successful, popular and riding high when Death comes  calling. He is forced to abandon the life he has built and embark on a last, frantic search to recruit a friend, anyone, to speak in his defence. But Death is close behind, and time is running out’. Rufus Norris directs this new adaption by Carol Ann Duffy, which stars Chiwetel Ejiofor in the title role of Everyman. The rest of the cast is comprised of Paul Bullion, Adam Burton, Joshua Lacey, Ira Mandela Siobhan and Clemmie Sveaas. The drama also features choreography Javier De Frutos and music by William Lyons. Asking whether it is only in death that we understand our lives, the National’s production of Everyman begins previews at the Oliver Theatre, NT from 22nd April 2015, opening there on 29th April 2015 and closing on 16th July 2015.


One of the most well-known of all Shakespeare’s work, this tragic and timeless love story is coming back to The Globe and touring on a small-scale, Elizabethan-style stage as a small troupe of travelling players perform a stripped-down version that ‘breathes new life’ into one of the greatest love stories of all time. ‘A violent street brawl between their rival families is the prelude to Romeo’s first encounter with Juliet. Despite this, and the fact that Juliet has been promised to another, they fall in love. But any plans for their future happiness are cruelly destroyed by renewed violence between their families, and tragedy begins to unfold.’ Dominic Dromgoole and Tim Hoare direct the Shakespeare’s Globe production of William Shakespeare’s world-famous play, which features the compositions of Bill Barclay and includes the aptly-named Samuel Valentine (Romeo) and Cassie Layton (Juliet) as the star-crossed lovers, alongside Matt Doherty (Paris/Tybalt), Steffan Donnelly (Mercutio/Prince), Steven Elder (Capulet), Sarah Higgins (Nurse), Tom Kanji (Friar Laurence/Benvolio) and Hannah McPake (Lady Capulet). Romeo and Julie opens at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre on 27th April 2015 and can be seen there until 8th May 2015.

The Globe Theatre is also hosting another Shakespeare classic on its stage this month, as the playwright’s drama, The Merchant of Venice, arrives in town with double Tony and Oliver Award winning actor, Jonathan Pryce, in tow, who is set to make his first appearance at Shakespeare’s Globe in the role of Shylock. He stars alongside Daniel Lapaine (Bassanio), Rachel Pickup (Portia), Dominic Mafharn (Antonio), Phoebe Pryce (Jessica), Stefan Adegbola (Lancelot Gobbo), Michael Bertenshaw (Duke of Venice/Tubal), Philip Cox (Balthasar), Scott Karim (Prince of Morocco), Ben Lamb (Lorenzo), Christopher Logan (Prince of Arragon), Brian Martin (Salarino), Dorothea Myer-Bennett (Nerissa), Rege-Jean Page (Solanio) and David Sturzaker (Gratiano). Directed by Jonathan Munby, and featuring compositions by Jules Maxwell, The Merchant of Venice begins previews at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre from 23rd April 2015 and opens a few days later on 30th April 2015, running until 7th June 2015.

By Julie Robinson: @missjulie2

Tuesday 31st March 2015

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