To theatre fans, the term spring awakening brings to mind the rock musical adaption of Frank Wedekind’s 19th century play about the sexual awakening of a group of teenagers. As we hover on the cusp of March however, it could also prove the perfect reference as we move into spring and bask in the new life it brings everywhere, including the West End. A fresh incrop of shows are setting up home in our London theatres this March, so it is with a ‘spring’ in our step that we take a look at the latest arrivals to the West End.
First seen in the West End in 1941, Noel Coward’s comedic play makes its return to London in March. Author Charles Condomine unwittingly brings havoc into his house when he enlists eccentric clairvoyant Madame Arcati to conduct a séance as research for his next novel. Things begin to go awry when she makes contact with the ghost of his first wife, Elvira, who can only be seen and heard by Charles. She then sets out to cause trouble for her former husband and his new wife Ruth. A top line-up of actors lead the cast of director Michael Blakemore’s revival, which stars stage and screen actor Charles Edwards in the role of Charles Condomine opposite Janie Dee (Ruth), Jemima Rooper (Elvira) and Angela Lansbury (Madame Arcati). Sandra Dickinson (Mrs Bradman), Simon Jones (Doctor George Bradman), Patsy Ferran (Edith) also feature in the cast. Blithe Spirit starts previews at the Gielgud Theatre from 1st March 2014 and opens there on 18th March 2014, running through until 7th June 2014.
OTHER DESERT CITIES:
Acclaimed writer Jon Robin Baitz has contributed much to America’s stage and screen industries, and now his debut Broadway play is coming to our shores for its UK premiere. The award-winning play explores the themes of family politics, love, loss and redemption through the seasonal reunion of novelist Brooke Wyeth and her family in Palm Springs. She returns home on Christmas Eve for the first time in six years with some unwelcome news for her Republican parents, brother, and recovering alcoholic aunt: she is writing a memoir about her family which will expose an explosive and painful moment from their past. Her revelation threatens to push the fractured family relations to the point of no return. Director Lindsay Posner stands at the helm of the Old Vic’s production and oversees a stellar cast of actors which stars Martha Plimpton as Brooke Wyeth, Sinead Cusack as her mother Polly, Peter Egan as her father Lyman, Daniel Lapaine as her brother Trip and Clare Higgins as her aunt Silda Grauman. Other Desert Cities is presented in-the-round at the Old Vic and begins previews from 13th March 2014. It opens on 24th March 2014 and closes there on 24th May 2014.
Psychological thriller film Fatal Attraction, which starred Michael Douglas, Glenn Close and Anne Archer, has become a classic in the minds of movie fans since its release in 1987. Now original screenwriter James Dearden has adapted the popular film into a brand new stage adaption which makes its world debut in the West End this March. The famous tale of obsession and revenge is retold under the direction of Trevor Nunn in this production by Theatre Royal Haymarket Productions, Robert Fox and Patrick Ryecart. Natascha McElhone stars as the deranged Alex Forrest, who refuses to walk away after spending the weekend with a married man. Mark Bazeley plays the object of her affection, Dan Gallagher, a successful city lawyer with a beautiful wife Beth (Kristin Davis) and young family. His life becomes a living nightmare when Alex can’t seem to let go and her pursuit of him becomes increasingly terrifying. This eagerly anticipated stage production of Fatal Attraction premieres at the Theatre Royal Haymarket on 25th March 2014 (previews from 11th March) and closes there on 21st June 2014.
I CAN’T SING! THE X FACTOR MUSICAL:
Syco Entertainment and Stage Entertainment UK have teamed up to bring this original production, based on the popular TV singing contest, to the West End. The musical comedy goes ‘behind the microphone and under the judge’s desk’ in a story of heartache and laughter which follows the journey of talented singer Chenice. Living a simple existence in a caravan and having never heard of The X Factor, she accidentally finds herself auditioning for the show and is catapulted into the madcap world of reality TV. She is joined along the way by contestants with vastly varying degrees of ability, some judges you might well recognise and Max, a handsome ukulele playing plumber and part time eco warrior. Comedian Harry Hill has written the book for the production, which features the music and lyrics of Steve Brown and is directed by Steve Brown. Cynthia Erivo, star of the recent critically-acclaimed production of The Color Purple, leads the musical as contestant Chenice, performing for judges Louis (Ashley Knight), Jordy (Victoria Elliot) and Simon Cowell (Nigel Harman). Max is played by Alan Morrissey while Simon Bailey appears as TV presenter Liam O’Deary. Billy Carter (Gerard Smalls), Simon Lipkin (Barlow), Joe Speare (Grandad), Katy Secombe (Brenda), Charlie Baker (The Hunchback), and Shaun Smith & Rowen Hawkins (Alterboyz) also feature in the company alongside the ensemble team. Choreography is by Kate Prince and musical supervision by Phillip Bateman. I Can’t Sing! begins previews at the London Palladium from 1st March 2014. It opens on 26th March 2014 and is currently booking until 25th October 2014.
This acclaimed theatrical performance is a solo piece by Olwen Fauere, who has adapted the voice of the river from James Joyce’s work of comic prose, Finnegan’s Wake. ‘A force of constant renewal, the river Life generates a powerful transformative energy as she dissolves into the great ocean of time.’ Fauere takes a unique approach to Joyce’s extraordinary ‘sound dance’, which becomes a universal call to wake up, surrender the past and confront the betrayals that might lie at the heart of our histories. She not only stars in this co-production from The Emergency Room and Galway Arts Festival, but also directs alongside Kellie Hughes. Riverrun is presented at the NT’s temporary outdoors venue The Shed and has a preview performance on 11th March 2014 before opening on 12th March 2014. It runs there until 22nd March 2014.
The issue of homelessness amongst young people in the UK is addressed in this poignant creation by Nadia Fall, who asks what it really means to call somewhere home. Real life testimonials are used alongside existing and original music by Tom Green/Shakka Philip to bring to life the unheard voices of the young residents and staff who live and work behind the concrete walls of Target East, the inner city high rise hostel. Home introduces the audience to the likes of Bullet, who doesn’t want to call a hostel home, Eritrean Girl who was smuggled here in a lorry, Singing Boy who dreams of seeing his name in lights and Garden Boy, who just wants to feel safe. The cast of actors performing under the direction of Nadia Fall includes Michaela Coel, Jonathan Coote, Kadiff Kirwan, Ashley McGuire, Grace Savage and Toby Wharton. The National’s production also features choreography by Jack Murphy and musical direction by Gareth Valentine. Previews for Home begin at The Shed, NT from 26th March 2014. It opens there on 31st March 2014 and runs until 30th April 2014.
Shakespeare’s Globe and the Royal Opera bring a touch a refined musical entertainment to the West End with their production of Baroque composer Francesco Cavalli’s opera. The ‘outrageous comedy’ features a libretto by Giovanni Faustini and tells a tale of the young, unhappily married queen Erisbe and her two prospective lovers, princes Amida and Ormindo. Kaspar Holten directs the opera, which hasn’t been professional staged in the UK since 1972, which has been translated into English by Christopher Cowell. The cast is comprised of Ed Lyon (Amida), Samuel Boden (Ormindo), Joelle Harvey (Fortune/Sicle) and Susanna Hurrell (Erisbe), who are accompanied by the orchestra of the Early Opera Company. Conducted by Christian Curnyn and including choreography by Signe Fabricius, this production of L’Ormindo is to be performed at the Shakespeare Globe Theatre’s indoor Jacobean theatre, the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. It opens there on 25th March 2014 and closes on 12th April 2014.
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)
Thursday 27th February 2014