Another month… another set of brand new shows in London’s West End theatres. A delectable mix of theatre is coming to the West End stage over the next 30 days, with a show to suit every audience: laugh along with Samuel Foote in Mr Foote’s Other Leg, sing about the joys of Christmas with Buddy in ELF The Musical, and revel in a time-proven classic with William Shakespeare’s As You Like It. This is just a small taster of what theatre-goers can expect from the London theatre scene in November. There are many more fantastic shows opening in the West End throughout the winter month, and here we have listed some of the best productions coming to town this November.
MR FOOTE’S OTHER LEG:
‘In Georgian London no one is more famous than Samuel Foote. Satirist, impressionist and dangerous comedian, he has become a celebrity in a city and at a moment in time when the concept of selling personality was born. He even has the ear of the king. Adored by many, despised by some, Foote finds himself at the sharp end of attacks from the press…and a surgeon’s knife. And in an age obsessed with fame, his colleagues from the worlds of science and the stage – from Benjamin Franklin to David Garrick – begin to wonder: does fame make you mad?’ Ian Kelly’s critically acclaimed new play recently finished a sold-out run at the Hampstead Theatre and is now set to transfer into London’s West End for the Christmas season. Simon Russell Beale reprises his role as Samuel Foote from the original production, and stars in the West End opposite Dervla Kirwan as Peg Woffington and Joseph Millson as David Garrick, along with fellow cast members Micah Balfour (Frank Barber), Jenny Galloway (Mrs Garner), Ian Kelly (Prince George), Forbes Masson (John Hunter), Colin Stinton (Benjamin Franklin/ Charles Macklin), Sophie Bleasdale (Miss Chudleigh) and Joshua Elliott (Hallam). Produced by Michael Codron, Anthony Pye-Jeary and Greg Ripley-Duggan for Hampstead Theatre, Mr Foote’s Other Leg is directed by Richard Eyre and comes to the West End for a strictly limited season. It opens at the Theatre Royal Haymarket on 4th November 2015 (following previews from 28th Oct) and continues there until 23rd January 2016.
DAWN FRENCH – 30 MILLION MINUTES:
The actress and comedienne reflects on her life and career in comedy in her critically acclaimed debut solo show, which she is now bringing to the West End following an extensive UK tour last year. ‘The evidence is there for all to see. She is already three quarters certifiably daft. The other quarter is utterly bewildered. And the remaining quarter simply can’t do maths. With a sharp eye for comic detail and a wicked ear for the absurdities of life, Dawn French of Cornwall shares how she has misguidedly spent her whole life vigorously attempting to be a fully functioning female human. Her extraordinary lack of willpower, combined with an enviable knack for nosey parking and showing off, has driven her to grapple with the big stuff of life in public. 30 million minutes of life in fact. That’s how long she’s been alive.’ The show is presented by Phil McIntyre Entertainments and Michael Grandage Company and directed by Michael Grandage. 30 Million Minutes comes to the Vaudeville Theatre for a strictly limited 4-week season. There will be a preview performance on 11th November 2015 ahead of the opening night on 12th November 2015, with French performing her final show on 5th December 2015.
THE ODYSSEY – MISSING PRESUMED DEAD:
Shakespeare’s Globe presents the English Touring Theatre and Playhouse and Everyman Theatre co-production of The Odyssey: Missing Presumed Dead. Writer Simon Armitage has once again teamed up with director Nick Bagnall for this modern re-telling of Homer’s epic, which follows a government minister on a diplomatic mission who, after a bar brawl, suddenly becomes the most wanted man in Europe and his Odyssey begins. ‘Plunged into the ancient past Odysseus must now contend with all the unworldly beings and unnatural phenomena that stand in his way. The Cyclops, the Sirens, witches, whirlpools and flesh-eating armies must all be overcome in the struggle for survival and the long voyage back to the present day.’ Colin Tierney stars as Odysseus/Smith, alongside Lee Armstrong (Magnus/Ensemble), Simon Dutton (Prime Minister/Tiresias/Cyclops), Roger Evans (McGill/Eurylochus), Polly Frame (Anthea/Athena), David Hartley (Kite/Ensemble), Ranjit Krishnamma (Renoylds/Ensemble), Chris Reilly (Fenton/Perimedes/Ensemble), Sule Rimi (Soli/Polites/Ensemble), Danusia Samal (Circe/Anticlea/Briseis) and Susie Trayline (Penelope/Ensemble). The production also includes compositions by James Fortune. The Odyssey: Missing Presumed Dead opens at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre on 3rd November 2015 and runs until 14th November 2015.
One of Harold Pinter’s most celebrated plays, the multi award-winning classic comes to the West End in its 50th anniversary year. ‘When Teddy returns from America to introduce his wife Ruth to his family in London, they discover a claustrophobic and brutal household where his father Max, brothers Lenny and Joey and uncle Sam live in a state of mutual loathing and festering resentment. Theirs is a motherless, compassionless and lawless home where Ruth immediately becomes the centre of attention.’ Director Jamie Lloyd works with a star-filled cast that includes Keith Allen, Gemma Chan, Ron Cook, Gary Kemp, John MacMillan and John Simm. The Jamie Lloyd Company 50th anniversary production of The Homecoming begins previews at Trafalgar Studios 1 from 14th November 2015, with an official opening night on 23rd November 2015. It is set to run until 13th February 2016.
ELF THE MUSICAL:
Tis the season…as the family-fun musical ELF is finally delivered into London’s West End, just in time for Christmas! The show is based on the beloved 2003 film of the same name, starring Will Farrell. It is the tale of ‘Buddy, a young orphan child who mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts and is transported back to the North Pole. Unaware that he is actually human, Buddy’s enormous size and poor toy-making abilities cause him to face the truth. With Santa’s permission, Buddy embarks on a journey to New York City to find his birth father, discover his true identity, and help New York remember the true meaning of Christmas.’ The stage production features a book by Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin, with songs by Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin. It premiered on Broadway in 2010 and made its UK debut last year with performances in Plymouth and Dublin. The forthcoming West End production stars Ben Forster as Buddy, the role played by Ferrell in the original film. Also in the principal line-up are Kimberly Walsh as Jovie, Joe McGann as Walter, Jessica Martin as Emily, Jennie Dale as Deb, Mark McKerracher as Santa and Graham Lappin as Store Manager, with Katie Bradley, Charlie Bull, Nicola Coates, Alex Fobbester, Anton Fosh, Charlotte Gale, Francis Haugen, Matt Holland, Tash Holway, Paul Hutton, Mark Iles, Ceili O’Connor, Debbie Paul, Joanna Rennie, Barnaby Thompson and Ed White comprising the rest of the cast. The role of Michael will be shared by Harry Collett, Ilan Galkoff, Noah Key and Ewan Rutherford. Produced by Michael Rose and U-Live in association with the Bord Gais Energy Theatre, Dublin, and with direction/choreography by Morgan Lloyd, ELF The Musical makes its West End debut as part of the 2015/16 Christmas season. It opens at the Dominion Theatre on 5th November 2015 (following previews from 24th Oct) and is set to run until 2nd January 2016.
Harley Granville Barker’s controversial play was famously banned by the Lord Chamberlain when he first wrote it in 1906. It went on to become a classic stage work and now returns to London in a new revival by the National Theatre. ‘Backstage at a hung parliament, visionary Independent Henry Trebell is co-opted by the Tories to push through a controversial Bill. Pursuing his cause with missionary zeal, he’s barely distracted by his brief affair with a married woman until she suffers a lethal backstreet abortion. Threatened by public scandal, the Establishment closes ranks and coolly seals the fate of an idealistic man.’ Charles Edwards leads the ensemble piece as Henry Trebell performing alongside Olivia Williams as Amy O’Connell. Also featured in the cast are Christopher Birch, Hubert Burton, Martin Chamberlain, William Chubb, Michael Elwyn, Laura Fitzpatrick, Tom Forrister, Andrew Havill, Paul Hickey, Louis Hilyer, Ian Jervis, Fleur Keith, Sylvestra Le Touzel, Gerrard McArthur, Doreen Mantle, Emerald O’Hanrahan, Stephen Rashbrook, Lucy Robinson and Claire Vousden. Directed by Roger Michell, Waste has its first preview performance at Lyttelton, NT on 3rd November 2015. It officially opens there on 10th November 2015 and continues into the new year, with the closing date set for 19th March 2016.
I WANT MY HAT BACK:
‘Bear’s hat is gone. He loves his hat. He wants it back.
He asks all of the animals in the forest, but no one has seen it.
WAIT! He has seen it somewhere…’
Jon Klassen’s 2011 children’s book quickly became a firm favourite with kids everywhere, and now comes to the stage in a brand new musical adaption. The production features a book and lyrics by Joel Horwood and music by Arthur Darvill, and is directed by Wils Wilson. The cast are as follows: Naana Agyei-Ampadu, Oliver Birch, Richie Hart, Natalie Klamar, Marek Larwood, Pieter Lawman, Adam Pleeth and Steven Webb. Suitable for ages 3+, I Want My Hat Back opens at the Temporary Theatre, NT on 16th November 2015 (following previews from 12th Nov) and plays its last performance there on 2nd January 2016.
EVENING AT THE TALK HOUSE:
The National presents the world premiere of Wallace Shawn’s new play, produced in association with Scott Rudin. ‘A reunion at the almost legendary club, The Talk House. Still presided over by the kindly Nellie, there’s the same genteel atmosphere, the familiar drinks and the special snacks. The playwright, the composer, the actress. The former television star brutally beaten up. The possibility of a pleasant night.’ The cast comprises of Anna Calder-Marshall, Josh Hamilton, Sinead Matthews, Stuart Milligan, Joseph Mydell, Wallace Shawn, Simon Shepherd and Naomi Wirthner, under the direction of Ian Rickson. Evening at the Talk House makes its debut at Dorfman, NT on 17th November 2015. It opens there on 24th November 2015 and is set to run until 30th March 2015.
HERE WE GO:
Also premiering in November is this short play about death, from playwright Caryl Churchill. ‘A funeral party for a man with an adventurous past and a ginger cat that needs a home. Where is he now? Is his heart lighter than a feather? How did he die? And what happens to his friends?’ Produced by the National, Churchill’s new play is directed by Dominic Cooke and features Susan Engel, Patrick Godfrey, Hazel Holder, Joshua James, Amanda Lawrence, Eleanor Matsuura and Alan Williams in the cast. Here We Go opens at Lyttelton, NT on 27th November 2015 (following previews from 25th Nov) and closes 19th December 2015.
AS YOU LIKE IT:
The National is also playing host to William Shakespeare’s classic comedy this month, more than 30 years after it was last seen there. It’s a story of love and change, led by the play’s heroine Rosalind. ‘With her father the Duke banished and in exile, Rosalind and her cousin Celia leave their lives in the court behind them and journey into the Forest of Arden. There released from convention, Rosalind experiences the liberating rush of transformation. Disguising herself as a boy, she embraces a different way of living and falls spectacularly in love.’ Many famous actresses have played the role on stage, including Vanessa Redgrave, Patti LuPone and Bryce Dallas Howard (male actor Adrian Lester also played the role in a 1991 production), and now award-winning actress and NT favourite Rosalie Craig takes on the iconic role in the latest production at the NT. Joining her on stage are Patsy Ferran as Celia, Mark Benton as Touchstone and Paul Chahidi as Jaques, as well as Rosa Leon Annor, Phillip Arditti, Jonathan Dryden Taylor, Patrick Godfrey, Gemma Lawrence, Ken Nwosu, Ekow Quartey and Alan Williams. Directed by Polly Findlay and with choreography by Jonathan Goddard, As You Like It opens at Olivier, NT on 3rd November 2015 (following previews from 26th Oct) and can be seen there until 5th March 2016.
‘Henry IV is dead and Hal is King. With England in a state of unrest, he must leave his rebellious youth behind, striving to gain the respect of his nobility and people. Laying claim to parts of France and following an insult from the French Dauphin, Henry gathers his troops and prepares for a war that he hopes will unite his country.’ The production is part of the King and Country season, with director Gregory Doran and the RSC creative team continuing their exploration of the playwright’s historic plays. Alex Hassell takes on the title role after having previously played Prince Hal in Henry IV Parts I & II there. Also featured in the cast are Daniel Abbott (Gloucester/Monsieur le Fer), Martin Bassindale (Boy), Antony Byrne (Pistol), Sean Chapman (Exeter), Oliver Ford Davies (Chorus), Nicholas Gerard-Martin (Orleans/Bishop of Ely), Robert Gilbert (Dauphin), Jim Hooper (Canterbury/Erpingham), Jennifer Kirby (Katherine), Jane Lapotaire (Queen Isobel), Sam Marks (Constable of France), Dale Mathurin (Bates/Bedford), Chris Middleton (Nym/Warwick/Governor of Harfleur), Evelyn Miller (Rambures/Lady-in-Waiting), Keith Osborn (Montjoy/Scroop), Sarah Parks (Mistress Quickly), Leigh Quinn (Alice), Joshua Richards (Bardolph/Fluellen), Simon Thorp (King of France), Obioma Ugoala (Grey/Gower), Andrew Westfield (Westmoreland/MacMorris) and Simon Yadoo (Cambridge/Williams/Jamy). In what is the 600th anniversary year of the Battle of Agincourt, Henry V comes to the Barbican Theatre with its first preview performance set for 7th November 2015. It opens on 11th November 2015 and runs until 30th December 2015.
Other productions of note coming to the West End in November…
By Julie Robinson: @missjulie25
Tuesday 27th October 2015