Autumn is a changing season in which all the bright, blooming vitality of spring and summer begins to surrender to the oncoming bitter chill of winter. The once-green leaves are starting to fall from the trees in a colourful autumnal death of red, orange and brown, but there’s still a healthy growth of new shoots in London’s West End as a whole host of incoming shows plant their roots for an extended stay in town. October’s theatre scene is a lush garden of choice, full of life, and here to help you navigate your way through is a guide to the best new shows coming to London this month.
LORD OF THE DANCE – DANGEROUS GAMES:
Michael Flatley’s spectacular dance show returns to the West End following seasons at the London Palladium and Dominion Theatre. ‘Based on Irish folklore, this is the classic tale of Good vs. Evil, expressed through the universal language of dance. It’s the story of the Little Spirit, who travels through time to help the Lord of the Dance protect his people from the challenge of Don Dorcha, the Dark Lord. As this dark power challenges our hero, the adventure draws you into a mythical universe of love, danger, and desire, created by an orchestrated combination of precision dancing, state of the art lighting and pyrotechnics.’ The show is a technological phenomenon that features holographs, special effects lighting and dancing robots alongside world champion acrobats, and of course, a cast of the greatest Irish dancers in the world. Michael Flatley appeared in previous runs of the show, but this production will star his hand-picked team of dancers, led by James Keegan and Morgan Comer. Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games opens at the Playhouse Theatre on 10th October 2015 and will continue through to the new year, playing its final performance on 3rd January 2016.
‘In a hotel lobby a couple meet to finalise their divorce, both on the verge of a new marriage. As they share sweet memories and dark revelations, the music of their conversation conjures the ghost of the passionate relationship they lost.’ Written by Marguerite Duras and translated by Barbara Bray, this ‘lyrical and poignant study of the damage we inflict on those we love’ returns in its first London revival in twenty years. The in-house production is a Classics for a New Climate show (in collaboration with Julie’s Bicycle), which investigates ways to make theatre more sustainable, and is directed by Jeff James. Starring in the two-hander play as the estranged couple who struggle to understand one another in the course of one night are Emily Barclay and Sam Troughton. In previews now, La Musica opens at the Young Vic (Main House) on 2nd October 2015 and is set to close on 17th October 2015.
Theatre Royal Bath’s production of The Father premiered in Bath last year, and most recently, was staged at London’s Tricycle Theatre. Following a short run at the Cambridge Arts Theatre earlier in the month, it now transfers to the Wyndham’s Theatre for a strictly limited West End season this autumn. ‘Now 80 years old, Andre was once a tap dancer. He lives with his daughter Anne and her husband Antoine. Or was he an engineer whose daughter Anne lives in London with her new lover, Pierre? The thing is, he is still wearing his pyjamas and he can’t find his watch. He is starting to wonder if he’s losing control…’ James McDonald directs the acclaimed production of Florian Zeller’s award-winning play, in a new translation by Christopher Hampton. Reprising their roles are Tony and Olivier Award nominees Kenneth Cranham and Claire Skinner as Andre and Anne, joined by Rebecca Charles. The Father transfers to the Wyndham’s Theatre for eight weeks only, beginning previews from 30th September 2015. It opens there on 5th October 2015 and closes 21st November 2015.
Christopher Shin’s ‘insightful and revealing’ play is set to make its UK premiere at the Donmar Warehouse this month, with Dominic Cooke directing the debut production. Inspired by true-life events, it’s an exploration of society’s uncomfortable embrace of the outsider, told through the story of student, Gabe. ‘It’s Gabe’s senior year and he’s going to make the most of it. He’s the chair of the LGBT Students Group, and he has one eye on a future in politics and one eye on Drew, the editor of the university newspaper. But as Gabe and his friends throw themselves into campus life, unexpected events reveal a darker, lonelier world inhabited by a freshman called Teddy Ferrara.’ The cast of the in-house production comprises Nancy Crane, Griffyn Gilligan, Nick Harris, Christopher Imbrosciano, Oliver Johnstone, Kadiff Kirwan, Ryan McParland, Matthew Marsh, Anjli Mohindra, Luke Newberry, Pamela Nomvete, Abubakar Salim, and Nathan Wiley. Following previews from 1st October 2015, Teddy Ferrara opens at the Donmar Warehouse on 7th October 2015 where it runs until 5th December 2015.
THE HAIRY APE:
Nobel Prize-winner Eugene O’Neill’s timeless story of class and identity is an iconic piece of American drama. ‘The Hairy Ape tells the story of Yank, a labourer who revels in his status as the strongest stoker on a transatlantic ocean liner. But when Yank is called a ‘filthy beast’ by the overbred daughter of a steel merchant, he experiences an awakening of consciousness that leads him on a journey through the wealthy neighbourhoods and disenfranchised underbelly of New York society. Searching for a way to belong, Yank is forced to confront primal questions about his true place in the world.’ Bertie Carvel stars in the role of Robert Smith ‘Yank’, leading a cast that also includes Adam Burton (Secretary), Buffy Davis (Aunt), Callum Dixon (Long), Steffan Rhodri (Paddy), Rosie Sheehy (Mildred) and Nicholas Karimi (Second Engineer), alongside Christopher Akrill, Charlie Cameron, Okorie Chukwu, Phil Hill, Ben Lee, Oliver Llewellyn-Jenkins, Luke Murphy, Elan James. Directed by Richard Jones, in-house production begins previews at the Old Vic Theatre from 17th October 2015. It opens there on 29th October 2015 and is set to run until 21st November 2015.
CLOSE TO YOU – BACHARACH REIMAGINED:
Originally performed under the name of What’s It All About? Bacharach Reimagined, the musical concert pays tribute to American singer-songwriter Burt Bacharach in a ‘reimagining’ of his celebrated songbook. Using the musical arrangements of Kyle Riabko in a blend of nostalgia and innovation, his greatest hits are brought to life in new yet faithful interpretations to be enjoyed by generations old and new. Riabko conceived the show alongside David Lane Seltzer and leads a talented company of singers and musicians, performing such popular songs as ‘I Say A Little Prayer’, ‘The Look of Love’, ‘Walk On By’, ‘Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head’, and ‘I’ll Never Fall In Love Again’. Following its successful run at the Menier Chocolate Factory, the Steven Hoggett-directed production now comes to the Criterion Theatre for a West End season that continues into 2016. Previews begin from 3rd October, with an opening night on 15th October 2015. Close To You: Bacharach Reimagined is currently booking until 10th January 2016.
Cats is a show that never seems to run out of lives. The Olivier and Tony Award-winning musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber is based on T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats and tells the story of a special tribe of cats through music and dance. ‘On just one special night of the year, all Jellicle cats meet at the Jellicle Ball where Old Deuteronomy, their wise and benevolent leader, makes the Jellicle choice and announces which of them will go up to The Heaviside Layer and be reborn into a whole new Jellicle life.’ It’s been staged all over the world, and following a highly successful UK Tour, returned to the West End last year for a season at the London Palladium, which was extended into April 2015. The beloved classic is back in town again this month for a follow-up 11-week run at the Palladium, this time with recording artist and musical theatre actress Beverly Knight stepping into the iconic role of Grizabella. Produced by The Really Useful Group, Cats is directed by Trevor Nunn and features music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and choreography by Gillian Lynne. The musical returns to the London Palladium on 23rd October 2015 for a strictly limited engagement, which comes to an end on 2nd January 2016.
HUSBANDS & SONS:
Drawing together three of D H Lawrence’s greatest dramas, this new play interweaves them in a simultaneous performance set in a world of manual labour and working class pride. ‘On the cracked border of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire stands the village of Eastwood. The women of the village, wives and mothers, struggle to hold their families and their own souls together in the shadow of the great Brinsley pit.’ Anne-Marie Duff plays the role of Lizzie Holroyd, returning to the National to star in this powerful adaption by Ben Powers. Appearing alongside her in the National Theatre/Royal Exchange Theatre co-production is Joe Armstrong, Matthew Barker, John Biggins, Cassie Bradley, Louise Brealey, Susan Brown, Julia Ford, Johnny Gibbon, Tala Gouveia, Lloyd Hutchinson, Philip McGinley, Martin Marquez, Katherine Pearce, Josie Walker and Sue Wallace. Directed by Marianne Elliott and featuring choreography by Scott Graham, Husbands & Sons will be staged in the round at the National’s flexible theatre space, The Dorfman. It opens there on 27th October 2015 (following previews from 19th October) and is set to run until 19th January 2016.
THE COMEDY OF ERRORS:
Also coming to the National this month is a fast-paced and energetic re-telling of Shakespeare’s hilarious and moving farce. One of his earliest plays, it has been adapted into many varying forms over the years, and now Ben Powers has created a new version for young audiences suitable for children aged 8-12 years. The comedic story of mistaken identity takes place in a city celebrating carnival, where two sets of identical twins seek each other amidst a riot of music and colour. ‘Separated for many years, the brothers face comedic confusion, arrests, and multiple mistaken identities before a final joyful reunion.’ Directed by Bijan Sheibani and featuring a cast that comprises Joseph Adelakun, Nana Amoo-Gottfried, Greg Baxter, Katie Elin-Salt, Graeme McKnight, Miles Mitchell, Sarah Ovens and Temi Wilkey, The Comedy of Errors opens at the Temporary Theatre, NT on 21st October 2015, where it can be seen until 6th November 2015.
By Julie Robinson: @missjulie25
Tuesday 29th September 2015