London Theatre Preview: November 2014

Dance 'Til DawnHalloween is the focal point for most people in October, while thoughts of Christmas consume then in December. What about November then? With Halloween almost over and done, with and enough time still for a small reprieve from Christmas at this point, something else is needed to occupy our minds and the incoming batch of shows this coming month seems a very good place to start. November brings with it a wide assortment of theatrical entertainment, from plays and musicals to kids shows and dance spectaculars. Listed here is a selection of some of the best productions opening in the West End this month.


Julia Donaldson’s children’s stories are beloved by kids everywhere, and the stage adaptions of some of her most popular works have proven just as successful. Stick Man is one which has been around for a while, but now it’s back to entertain children in the West End over the Christmas period. The central character of the story is of course Stick Man, who ‘lives in the family tree with his Stick Lady Love and their stick children three’. He is taken away from them in a game of fetch with a dog, and must overcome such obstacles as a nest-building swan, a snowman and the threat of fire to return home to his family in time for Christmas. Author Donaldson also penned the stage adaption, which will be presented in London during the winter season. This co-production by Scamp Theatre and Watford Palace Theatre is directed by Sally Cookson and features music by Benji Bower. Performed by Richard Kiess, Cassie Vallance and Alex Tosh, Stick Man starts its preview period from 8th November 2014 at Leicester Square Theatre (Main House). It opens there on 12th November 2014 and continues until 4th January 2015.

Another Donaldson classic returns to the West End with the live stage experience of Room On The Broom. Adapted by Tall Stories theatre company, this KW & NB Ltd/Tall Stories production is guided by the hand of director Olivia Jacobs and features the music of Jon Fiber and Andy Shaw. Room On The Broom is the story of a friendly witch, her cat, and three lovable animals who take to the skies on a broom and must face a fearsome dragon. The ‘magical, musical adventure’ is brought to life by Yvette Clutterbuck (The Witch), Emma Maclennan (The Cat), David Garrud (The Dog & The Frog) and Daniel Foxsmith (The Bird & The Dragon). Displaying the wonderful puppetry designs of Yvonne Stone, the stage adaption of Room On The Broom begins previews at the Lyric Theatre from 26th November 2014, opening just two days later on 28th November 2014. It runs there until 11th January 2015.


The ballroom dance-themed TV contest, Strictly Come Dancing, is a favourite with the British viewers, and now two of its favourite dancers are coming to the West End. Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace, two of Strictly’s professional dancers, have teamed up once again after the success of their previous live stage show Midnight Tango to showcase a sensational new production. Dance ‘Til Dawn is a fusion of musical theatre, dance, romance and comedy, set in Los Angeles during the 1940’s. ‘In the midst of a Hollywood film shoot leading man Bobby Burns is murdered and a romance develops between beautiful starlet Sadie Strauss and her handsome lover Tony DeLuca. As a plot to frame Tony DeLuca unfolds, the duo use their flawless footwork and spellbinding choreography to Tango and Quickstep their way out of trouble and into each other’s arms. Simone and Cacace star as lovers DeLuca and Strauss in this dance extravaganza which is directed by Karen Bruce, who also collaborated with the Strictly stars on the show’s choreography. The book is by Ed Curtis, with musical direction by Mark Crossland and musical arrangements and orchestrations by Chris Egan. Dance ‘Til Dawn, which is produced by Adam Spiegel Productions, began previews at the Aldwych Theatre on 23rd October 2014. Opening night is on 3rd November 2014 and it plays there until 3rd January 2015.


Duncan Macmillan’s new play places science centre stage in his latest collaborative effort, which is directed by the internationally renowned Katie Mitchell. He worked alongside influential climate scientist Chris Rapley for this play, which follows the success of his previous adaption of 1984 with Robert Icke. 2071 explores the controversial topic of climate change, creating a conversation about a subject that is a matter of importance to everyone and asking questions about what future generations are in store for. Produced by the Royal Theatre in co-operation with the Deutsches Schauspielhaus Hamburg, 2071 features music by Paul Clark. It has a single preview performance at the Royal Court theatre (Jerwood Theatre Downstairs) on 5th November 2014 before opening night on 6th November 2014. It has a strictly limited run, closing on 15th November 2014.

Trafalgar Studios opens its doors to Stephen MacDonald’s play, which is an ‘exploration of courage, of humanity and a timeless celebration of friendship set against the brutality of war. 1917 – After protesting against the continuance of the war, poet and military cross winner Siegfried Sassoon is sent to Craiglockhart War Hospital to silence him. There he meets shellshocked Lt. Wilfred Owen and they begin a friendship that transforms them both and creates some of twentieth century’s greatest war poetry, including Anthem for Doomed Youth. Both return to the front. Sassoon is shot in the head but survives, Owen is machine gunned to death a week before the Armistice’. Alasdair Craig and Simon Jenkins star as Sassoon and Owen respectively in this Caroline Clegg-directed production, produced by Feelgood Theatre Productions. Also featuring compositions by Ailis Ni Riain, Not About Heroes has a preview showing at Trafalgar Studios 2 on 10th November 2014. It opens the following night (11th November 2014) and runs through until 6th December 2014.


The ancient Japanese art of shadow puppetry is reinvented in this international multi-award winning spectacular, which returns to London with the six-strong company of performers who interact with technology in a unique and innovative manner. The show is a fusion of 3D video projection, light animation and laser effects with choreography, humour and magic, accompanied by an electro soundtrack. Created and performed by Kentaro Homma (DJ), Fumiya (Performer), Toshiya Arai (Performer), Keiji Miya (Performer), Yohei (Performer) and Daichi Norikane (Video Artist), SIRO-A has been in previews at the Leicester Square Theatre (Main House) since 22nd October 2014. It opens there on 11th November 2014 and is due to close on 11th January 2015.


It’s spent most of the month of October in previews (from 9th October), and now opening night for what was one of the most highly anticipated new musicals of the year is just a few days away. Based on the popular 2010 British film of the same name, this musical adaption chronicles the events of the 1968 Ford sewing machinists strike at the Ford Dagenham plant through the creative collaboration of Richard Bean (book), David Arnold (music) and Richard Thomas (lyrics). Following the announcement that the girls in the sewing room of Ford’s Dagenham plant are set to have their pay grade dropped to ‘unskilled’, Rita O’Grady rallies her friends to do battle with against the might of Ford and the corruption of the Union supposed to protect them. ‘As the girls’ inspiring journey gets bigger than anyone could have imagined, the pressure is too much for some, but can Rita keep up the fight and the happy home she’s worked so hard for?’ The lead role of working woman Rita O’Grady is played by English film actress Gemma Arterton, making her stage début in the West End. Also performing alongside the starlet in the well-put together cast are Adrian Der Gregorian (Eddie), Steve Furst (Mr Tooley), Mark Hadfield (Harold Wilson), Sophie-Louise Dann (Barbara Castle), Sophie Stanton (Beryl), Heather Craney (Clare), Sophie Isaacs (Sandra), Julius D’Silva (Mr Hopkins) and Naomi Frederick (Lisa). Ensemble members include Isla Blair, David Cardy, Naana Agyei-Ampadu, Thomas Aldridge, Kate Coysten, Christopher Howell, Scott Garnham, Ian Jervis, Paul Kemble, Emma Lindars, Jo Napthine, Tracey Penn, Gemma Salter, Gareth Snook, Rachel Spurrell, Emily Squibb, Karli Vale and Rene Zagger. Produced by Stage Entertainment, Glass Half Full Productions and Just For Laughs Theatrics, Made in Dagenham is directed by Rupert Goold and also features choreography by Aletta Collins. The musical’s opening  night at the Adelphi Theatre takes place on 5th November 2014 and is currently booking until 28th March 2015.

Irving Berlin’s Christmas classic comes to the West End for the Yuletide period, filling the gap left at the Dominion Theatre by the closure of Queen musical, We Will Rock You. Berlin’s music and lyrics are coupled with the book by David Ives and Paul Blake, which tells a story of two ex-army pals who team up with a pair of sisters to put on a show to save their former General’s remote Vermont ski lodge, which has fallen on hard times. Also making his West End début is Aled Jones, who plays Bob Wallace alongside a star cast which additionally features Tom Chambers (Phil Davis), Wendi Peters (Martha), Graham Cole (General Waverley), Rachel Stanley (Betty Haynes) and Louise Bowden (Judy Haynes). The ensemble team is comprised of Lori Haley Fox, Michelle Bishop, Phil Cole, Brendan Cull, Jonathan Halliwell, Vikki-Marie Ryan, Lucinda Lawrence, Karen Aspinall, Emma Caffrey, Hayley Reed, Helen Patching, Vicki Davids, Jennifer Davison, Grace Holdstock, Ross McLaren, Joshua Lay, Matt Cheney, Jonny Labey, Anthony Whiteman, Eddie Myles, Stuart Winter, Matt Clark and Gary Murphy. Alternating the role of Susan are Amy Snudden, Emily Robins, Sophia Pettet and Tatum Confrey. The production is directed by Morgan Young and features the choreography of Randy Skinner, along with musical direction by Andrew Corcoran. Produced by Michael Rose and U-Live for White Christmas Onstage (UK) Limited, in association with Paramount Pictures, White Christmas begins previews at the Dominion Theatre from 8th November 2014. It opens there on 12th November 2014 and runs through until 3rd January 2015.


Coming to the National in November is this new verbatim dance-theatre work by Lloyd Newson, Artistic Director of DV8 Physical Theatre. He conducted frank interviews about love and sex with over 50 men, and in the course of this encountered John, on whom his production is based on. It follows John’s extraordinary and moving life story, which saw him struggle to survive through years of crime and drug use until his desire for a new life led him to a place unknown by most. Newson directs the cast of Taylor Benjamin, Lee Boggess, Gabriel Castillo, Ian Garside, Ermira Goro, Garth Johnson, Hannes Langolf, Vivien Wood and Andi Xhums in their performances, which combine the spoken word with movement to create a ‘touching and poignant theatrical experience’. JOHN is the latest work by DV8, who return to the National following their internationally acclaimed productions, To Be Straight With You and Can We Talk About This?. It is produced by National Theatre and Biennale de la Danse de Lyon, Théâtre de la Ville and Festival d’Automne Paris, Dansens Hus Stockholm and Dansens Hus Oslo and DV8 Physical Theatre. JOHN has its first preview performance today (30th October), and opens at Lyttelton, NT on 4th November 2014, where it can be seen until 13th January 2014.

David Hare’s new play goes beyond the luxury hotels surrounding Mumbai airport in a globally ambitious India to reveal a makeshift slum and its residents, who all have plans of their own. This stage version is based on the book by Katherine Boo, who spent three years in Annawadi recording the lives of its people. Audiences are introduced to such individuals as Zehrunisa and her son who aim to recycle enough rubbish to fund a proper house, 12-year old stunted Sunil who wants to eat until he’s as tall as Kalu the thief, Asha who seeks to turn herself into a ‘first-class person’ by stealing government anti-poverty funds, and her daughter Manju who intends to become the slum’s first female graduate. ‘But their schemes are fragile; global recession threatens the garbage trade, and another slum-dweller is about to make an accusation that will destroy herself and shatter the neighbourhood’. Rufus Norris directs Beyond The Beautiful Forevers, which features a cast comprised of Meera Syal, Stephanie Street, Shane Zaza, Gavi Singh Chera, Hiran Abeysekera, Esh Alladi, Nathalie Armin, Pal Aron, Tia-Lana Chinapyel, Vincent Ebrahim, Sartaj Garewal, Mariam Haque, Thusitha Jayasundera, Muzz Khan, Ranjt Krishnamma, Manjeet Mann, Nikita Mehta, Anjli Mohindra, Tia Palamathanan, Bharti Patel, Ronak Patani, Chook Sibtain, Anneika Rose, Anjana Vasan and Assad Zaman. This in-house production begins preview performances at Olivier, NT from 10th November 2014. It opens on 18th November 2014 and is set to run until 13th April 2015.


There’ll be plenty of pantomime productions popping up all around the country in the next month or so; panto is a Christmas tradition in the UK, and one which children everywhere adore. Who says panto has to be for kids though? Leicester Square Theatre is bringing its new adult panto, Sleeping Booty, to London audiences this year, written and directed by Stuart Saint. ‘The Evil Mangelina is wreaking havoc over our precious, perverted pantoland, ruling with an unruly and slippery iron fist – Ouch mama! Together with her randy but downtrodden sidekick Tit-Bit, she presides over proceedings in the filthiest manner! That is until Booty! Arrives, a chavtastic ladette from the skanky Estate Upon Gusset’. Guided by the legendary lounge singer Fairy Muff, Booty! enlists new friends – the sexually ambiguous Prince Willie Wontie and You Look Familiar – to help her discover the magical yet mythical island, Flickerty Click to break the mysterious ‘Christmas Curse’. Renowned London drag queen Miss Dusty O plays The Evil Mangelina alongside Alice Marshall as Booty!, Leo Scott as Prince Willie Wontie, Paula Maserton as Fairy Muff, Rachel Born as Tit-Bit, and Alexander Beck as You Look Familiar. Produced by Martin Witts and Lesley Ackland for Leicester Square Theatre, and featuring choreography by Dalh Hayn, Sleeping Booty begins previews at the Leicester Square Theatre Lounge from 25th November 2014. It opens on 27th November 2014 and runs until 17th January 2015.

By Julie Robinson: @missjulie25

Thursday 30th October 2014