The clocks went forward on the weekend, stealing an hour of time in the last few days of March. Many more hours await as we spring forward into April however, hours which are just waiting to be filled with theatrical entertainment. A whole host of new productions are coming into the West End over the course of the next month, some already familiar and others as yet unknown, but all equally exciting. Here we list a selection of the best new offerings opening the West End in April.
Set in the 1950’s, this Noel Coward play brings the laughs as it looks at the uproarious culture clash between the glittering world of Hollywood and the stiff upper lip of English aristocracy. When a young Earl announces he is to marry a Hollywood film actress, the family are less than impressed when it comes to light that her sister Moxie is actually the maid to the Earl’s mother. They attempt to avoid embarrassment by dressing her up in the cast-off’s of Her Ladyship and passing her off as one of their own…but will they succeed? Trevor Nunn directs the star cast which features Caroline Quentin in the role of Moxie, alongside Patricia Hodge (Felicity), Rory Bremner (Crestwell, the butler), Ben Mansfield (Don Lucas), Leigh Zimmerman (Miranda Frayle), Steven Pacey (Peter), Timothy Kightley (Admiral Sir John Hayling ), Amanda Boxer (Lady Cynthia Hayling), Sam Hoare (Nigel) and Rebecca Birch (Alice). Produced by Theatre Royal Bath Productions, Relative Values began previews at the Noel Harold Pinter Theatre on 19th March 2014. It opens at the theatre on 14th April 2014 and closes on 21st June 2014.
LET THE RIGHT ONE IN:
John Ajvide Lindqvist’s novel was turned into a film in 2008, with the author also writing the screenplay for the Swedish romantic horror. Having already made the jump from page to screen, it is now taking to the stage in an adaption by Jack Thorne. The story centres on lonely, bullied 12-year old Oskar and the friendship that he develops with Eli, who has just moved in next door. As their connection grows though, he discovers a dark secret about his new-found friend that will test his loyalty – and love. Directed by John Tiffany, this brand new stage production stars Martin Quinn as Oskar and Rebecca Benson as Eli in a cast which also includes Graeme Dalling, Angus Miller, Cristian Ortega and Susan Vidler. Produced by Marla Rubin Productions, Bill Kenwright, National Theatre of Scotland and the Royal Court Theatre, Let The Right One In opens at the Apollo Theatre (following previews from 26th March 2014) on 7th April 2014 and is currently booking until 27th September 2014.
Simon Stephens’ ‘piercing’ new play explores empathy, money and fame through the journey of rock star Paul. He’s in the last week of a massive international tour and at the height of his fame; he can screw anyone, go anywhere, buy anything…but the end of the road looms near and the reality of returning home starts to become clear through the haze of drink, drugs and rock n’ roll. Andrew Scott stars as Paul, alongside a cast comprised also comprised of Nikki Amuka-Bird, Daniel Cerqueira, Yolanda Kettle, Alex Price and Charlotte Randle. Under the direction of Carrie Cracknell, this in-house production from the Royal Court Theatre starts previews at its Downstairs venue from 3rd April 2014. It opens there on 9th April 2014 and runs until 31st May 2014.
Transferring from the Hampstead Theatre, this play by David Lindsay –Abaire looks at life on the wrong side of the tracks in South Boston through sharp-tongued single mother Margie. After losing yet another job, she will do anything it takes to pay the bills. So when she hears that an old boyfriend who has made good is back in town, she decides to corner him and cash in on old loyalties. The cast of two features West End stars Imelda Staunton (Sweeney Todd) and Lloyd Owen (The Bodyguard), guided by acclaimed director Jonathan Kent. A collaboration between Hampstead Theatre Productions and Old Vic Productions, Good People starts previews at the Noel Coward Theatre from 10th April 2014. It opens there on 15th April 2014 and runs until 14th June 2014.
DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS:
The 1988 film starring Michael Caine and Steve Martin remains popular with audiences to this day, but now new life has been breathed into the classic comedy as it is reborn on the West End stage. Set on the French Riviera, the decadent world of sophisticated conman Lawrence Jameson is brought crashing down with the arrival of the larger-than-life Freddy Benson – a conman of an entirely different nature. The two compete against one another as they attempt to pull off the con of their lives and win the affections of millionaire soap heiress Christine Colgate. Jeffrey Lane has written the book for this musical stage adaption, which features music and lyrics by David Yazbek. Directed by Jerry Mitchell (who also choreographed the production), it stars stage and screen actor Robert Lindsay and comedian/actor Rufus Hound as respective conmen Lawrence and Freddy, alongside Katherine Kingsley as the wealthy American heiress Christine. The cast also includes Samantha Bond (Muriel Eubanks), John Marquez (Andre Thibault) and Lizzy Connolly (Jolene), as well as Gavin Alex, Darren Bennett, Niamh Bracken, Lisa Bridge, Darren Carnall, Andy Conaghan, Lizzy Connolly, Phoebe Coupe, Claire Doyle, Alice Fearn, Selina Hamilton, Ian Knauer, Lisa Mathieson, Zak Nemorin, Genevieve Nicole, Javier Santos, Todd Talbot, Dominic Tribuzio, Jon Tsouras and Zara Warren. Produced by Ambassador Theatre Group, Jerry Mitchell Productions and Tulchin/Bartner Productions, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels has been in previews at the Savoy Theatre since 10th March 2014 and opening night is tonight (1st April 2014). It is currently booking until 29th November 2014.
A SMALL FAMILY BUSINESS:
Nigel Lindsay stars in Alan Ayckburn’s dramatic play which is a ‘riotous exposure’ of entrepreneurial greed. He plays the central role of Jack McCracken; a man of principle in a corrupt world. But not for long. When a private detective approaches him with some compromising information moments after taking over his father-in-law’s business, he discovers that his extended family are thieves and adulterers and soon starts to lose his integrity as self interest takes over. Debra Gillett, Gawn Grainger, Amanda Hadingue, Amy Marston, Gerard Monaco, Samuel Taylor and Niky Wardley appear alongside Lindsay in this Adam Penford-directed production. A Small Family Business plays its first preview performance at Olivier, NT today (1st April 2014). It opens on 8th April and runs until 31st May 2014.
THE SILVER TASSIE:
Sean O’Casey’s 1928 anti-war play has rarely been performed, but now the National is reviving this powerful drama in a brand new production directed by Howard Davies. “Ireland, World War One. Dashing Harry Heegan leads his football team to victory, arriving home in swaggering celebration before he grabs his kit and heads to the trenches. A nightmare world awaits. The men, reduced to cannon-fodder, speak in mangled incantations as the casualties stack up. Months later, Harry returns, a cripple at the football club party. Everyone but the shattered war veterans dances and forgets.” Ronan Raftery stars as Harry Heegan, in a cast which also features Adam Best, Aidan Kelly, Stephen Kennedy, Aidan McArdle and Deirdre Mullins. The Silver Tassie begins previews at Lyttelton, NT from 15th April 2014, opening there on 23rd April 2014 and running until 21st May 2014.
The classic Shakespearean tragedy returns to the West End in April for a limited run at the Leicester Square Theatre. Othello is a warning tale of the destructive power of love and jealousy, as Venice’s most successful warrior becomes the obsession of one man hell bent on his destruction. Othello is newly married to a woman half his age, and in his happiness, is oblivious to the wrath of his soldier Iago who has been passed over for promotion and is seeking revenge. Former Eastenders actor James Alexandrou stars as the villainous soldier Iago opposite Nari Blair-Mangat in the title role. Boris Mitkov and Emily Jane Kerr also appear in this production by Grassroots Shakespeare London, which begins previews at the Leicester Square Theatre Lounge from 2nd April 2014. It opens on 8th April 2014 and closes on 26th April 2014.
HAMLET (GLOBE TO GLOBE)/MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING:
Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre has 2 of The Bard’s works opening in April, the first being a fresh, pared-down production of Hamlet which is to go on to play hundreds of further venues as part of a 2-year tour which will visit all 205 nations on Earth. Everyone knows the story: Prince Hamlet returns home after the death of his father to find his uncle has married his mother and taken the throne. The ghost of his father haunts him at night, demanding Hamlet avenge his ‘foul and most unnatural murder’. Dominic Dromgoole and Bill Buckhurst co-direct a company of 12 actors, with Ladi Emeruwa and Naeem Hayat sharing the title role. The remainder of the roles will be played in rotation by Keith Bartlett, John Dougall, Miranda Foster, Phoebe Fildes, Beruce Khan, Tom Lawrence, Jennifer Leong, Rawiri Paratene, Matthew Romain and Amanda Wilkin. Hamlet opens at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre on 23rd April 2014 for 3 performances, closing there on 26th April 2014.
Following that is a small touring production of Much Ado About Nothing, the comedic play that gave the world one of Shakespeare’s ‘wittiest, most loveable pair of lovers’ in Beatrice and Benedick. Claudio and Hero are madly in love and nothing can keep them apart. Claudio’s friend Benedick loves Beatrice, who loves him in return, but nothing can bring them together as both refuse to admit it. Only the intrigues of a resentful prince force Benedick to prove his love for Beatrice – by killing his best friend. Simon Bubb and Emma Pallatt star as Benedick and Beatrice, alongside Sam Phillips and Gemma Lawrence as Claudio and Hero. The rest of the cast is comprised of Jim Kitson, Robert Pickavance, Joy Richardson and Chris Starkie. Directed by Max Webster, this production of Much Ado About Nothing is to first be performed at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre before touring on a small-scale, Elizabethan-style stage, playing to both UK and international audience as it stops at venues in Margate, Brighton, Lincoln and more, as well as visiting such countries as Denmark and Austria. It opens at The Globe on 28th April 2014 and runs there until 19th May 2014.
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)
Tuesday 1st April 2014