The notion of a fresh start is inspiring many people with the arrival of 2015, and this theme of ‘newness’ stretches beyond new year’s resolutions and extends to others areas of life, including the UK theatre industry. After looking back at the best of 2014, we can now look forward to the next twelve months and the theatrical treats they each will bring – starting with the first month in the calendar. January is the dawn of a new day, for the world’s inhabitants and all things theatre alike. There is an assortment of new shows opening in the West End over the course of January, and here we take a sneak peek at the best of the bunch to whet the appetite for the rest of the dishes on the table of 2015’s theatrical buffet.
MY NIGHT WITH REG:
Laughter is a wonderful way to kick-start the new year, and Kevin Elyot’s classic comedy is the perfect play for the job. The Olivier Award-winning show is transferring to the West End following the success Donmar Associate Director Robert Hastie’s 20th anniversary revival had in its sell-out season at the Donmar Warehouse. ‘At Guy’s London flat, old friends and new gather to party through the night. This is the summer of 1985, and for Guy and his circle the world is about to change forever. Deliciously funny and bittersweet, My Night with Reg perfectly captures the fragility of friendship, happiness and life itself.’ The critically acclaimed production comes to the West End for a limited 11-week run, but brings with it the entirety of the original Donmar cast. Reprising their roles in the West End transfer are Matt Bardock (Benny), Jonathan Broadbent (Guy), Richard Cant (Bernie), Julian Ovenden (John), Lewis Reeves (Eric) and Geoffrey Streatfeild (Daniel). Produced by Donmar Warehouse, Arielle Tepper Madover and Eleanor Lloyd Productions, My Night With Reg starts previews at the Apollo Theatre from 17th January 2015. It opens there on 23rd January 2015 and closes on 11th April 2015.
THE RULING CLASS:
The third and final production to run as part of Trafalgar Transformed: Season 2 at Trafalgar Studios, this is the first West End revival of the classic cult comedy by playwright Peter Barnes. ‘Jack, a possible paranoid schizophrenic with a Messiah complex, inherits the title of the 14th Earl of Gurney after his father passes away in a bizarre accident. Singularly unsuited to life in the upper echelons of elite society, Jack finds himself at the centre of a ruthless power struggle as his scheming family strives to uphold their reputation.’ Trafalgar Transformed Artistic Director Jamie Lloyd stands at the helm of this production, which sees Bafta Award-winning actor James McAvoy return following his critically acclaimed performance in the title role of Macbeth at Trafalgar Transformed in 2013. The stage and screen actor stars as Jack in a cast which also includes Ron Cook (Sir Charles Gurney), Kathryn Drysdale (Grace Shelley), Joshua McGuire (Dinsdale Gurney), Anthony O’Donnell (Daniel Tucker), Michael Cronin (Bishop Bertie Lampton), Serena Evans (Lady Claire Gurney), Paul Leonard (Ralph Gurney), Elliot Levey (Dr Herder), Forbes Masson (McKyle), alongside ensemble performers Rosy Benjamin, Andrew Bloomer and Oliver Lavery. Produced by Jamie Lloyd Productions and also featuring choreography by Darren Carnall, The Ruling Class begins previews at Trafalgar Studios 1 from 16th January 2015. Opening night is 27th January 2015 and it concludes Trafalgar Transformed: Season 2 with the final performance on 11th April 2015.
DI AND VIV AND ROSE:
The Vaudeville Theatre hosts the West End transfer of Amelia Bullmore’s ‘insightful comedy’ following its 2013 run at the Hampstead Theatre, which staged its première in the venue’s downstairs space back in 2011. ‘Aged eighteen, three women join forces at university. Life is fun. Living together is intense. Together they feel unassailable. Di and Viv and Rose is an exploration of friendship’s impact on life, and life’s impact on friendship.’ Former Eastenders actress Tamzin Outhwaite reprises her role as Di (until 28th March 2015) and stars alongside Samantha Spiro as Viv and Jenna Russell as Rose, under the direction of Anna Mackmin. A co-production between Nick Frankfort and Tobias Round for CMP Ltd and Greg Ripley-Duggan for Hampstead Theatre, Di And Viv And Rose begins previews at the Vaudeville Theatre from 22nd January 2015 and opens on 29th January 2015. It is currently booking until 23rd May 2015.
A tale of sex, murder, power and intrigue, the Jacobean play by Thomas Middleton and William Rowley comes to the stage of Shakespeare’s Globe this month. ‘The beautiful Beatrice-Joanna loves Alsemero, but she’s betrothed to another. So her fiancé must die – not by her hand, of course, but by that of the repulsive servant De Flores. Unfortunately it’s not money De Flores claims as his reward, but sex – and with the sweet virgin Beatrice-Joanna herself.’ Dominic Dromgoole directs this production, which stars Hattie Morahan as Beatrice-Joanna. Comprising the rest of the cast is Liam Brennan (Vermandero), Matt Doherty (Servant/Madman), Brian Ferguson (Antonio), Trystan Gravelle (De Flores), Peter Hamilton Dyer (Jasperino/Pedro), Simon Harrison (Alsemero), Joe Jameson (Tomazo), Adam Lawrence (Franciscus), Sarah MacRae (Isabella), Pearce Quigley (Lollio), Tom Stuart (Alonzo), Thalissa Teixeira (Diaphanta) and Phil Whitchurch (Alibius). This in-house production of The Changeling starts previews at the Globe’s Sam Wanamaker Playhouse from 15th January 2015. It opens there on 20th January 2015 and runs until 1st March 2015.
TAKEN AT MIDNIGHT:
The world première of Mark Hayhurst’s new play was staged as part of Chichester Festival Theatre’s Hidden Histories season last year, and in 2015, it is transferring to the West End for a limited 8-week season at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. ‘Hayhurst casts light on a universal theme as the mother of brilliant German Jewish lawyer Hans Litten fights for his release against the seemingly impossible might of the Nazi regime. Fearless and indomitable, she confronts his captors at enormous personal risk. The unquestionable love of a mother for her son is put centre stage in Hayhurst’s study of the horrors of pre-war Nazi Germany.’ Produced by Mark Goucher Ltd and Laurence Myers, CFT Enterprises and TRH Productions, Jonathan Church directs the CFT production of Taken At Midnight, which features music composed by Matthew Scott and stars Penelope Wilton after a five-year absence from the West End stage. After originating the character of Irmgard (written with her in mind) at CFT’s Minerva Theatre, Wilton reprises her role as the courageous mother for the West End transfer, which also stars Martin Hutson (Hans Litten), Allan Corduner (Franz Litten), Pip Donaghy (Erich Muhsam), Mike Grady (Carl von Ossietzky), John Light (Dr Conrad), David Yellan (Lord Clifford Allen), Marc Antolin (Gustav Hammerman), Christopher Hogben (Hotelier) and Dermont McLaughlin (SA Officer). The first new play to run in the West End in 2015, Taken At Midnight begins previews at the Theatre Royal Haymarket from 15th January 2015. It opens there on 26th January 2015 and is set to close on 14th March 2015.
WOMEN ON THE VERGE OF A MENTAL BREAKDOWN:
This smart new musical arrives in the West End this month following the success of the Tony Award-nominated Broadway production. Adapted for the stage by David Yazbek (Music & Lyrics) and Jeffrey Lane (Book), who previously collaborated on Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, it is based on Pedro Almodóva’s 1988 film of the same name. Still set in late 1980’s Spain, the show follows central character Pepa, an actress and singer, who is struggling to deal with being dumped by her boyfriend , Ivan. Then his ex-wife Lucia and their son Carlos, along with his fiancé, arrive on the scene, and to make matters worse, Pepa’s best friend believes she may be dating a terrorist! The cast is led by stage actress and TV star Tamsin Greig, who plays Pepa alongside Hadyn Gwynne (Lucia) Seline Hizli (Marisa), Jerome Pradon (Ivan), Anna Skellern (Candela), Ricardo Afonso (Taxi Driver), Haydn Oakley (Carlos), Willemijn Verkaik (Paulina), Rebecca McKinnis (Christina) and Sarah Moyle (Pepa’s Concierge), with the additions of Marianne Benedict, Holly James, Michael Matus, Alastair Natkiel, Nuno Queimado and Dale Rapley. Produced by Howard Panter for ATG, Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown is directed by Bartlett Sher. It is currently in its preview period (from 18th December 2014) and officially opens at the Playhouse Theatre on 12th January 2015. The production is currently booking until 9th May 2015.
It premièred at as a staged concert Belfast’s Lyric Theatre in 2011 and went on to play at the Lyric as a festival-scale production, which subsequently ran at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2012. A staged concert was presented at the Phoenix Artist Club in London last year, and now, in 2015, a full London production Paul Boyd’s musical comedy is set to run in the West End. ‘Margaret, Ruth and Jemma are desperate – trapped in loveless marriages and stuck with failing businesses. There is only one woman who can help them – a woman they’ve never met: Molly Wobbly…One by one, the ladies receive unexpected makeovers after a stranger arrives on Mammary Lane.’Directed by the show’s creator, Paul Boyd, the all-new West End production features an all-star cast led by Jane Milligan (Margaret), Stephanie Fearon (Ruth) and Cassie Compton (Jemma). Also featured are original cast members Conleth Kane (Jake), Christopher Finn (Robbie) and Russell Morton (Ithanku), alongside Ashleigh Knight (Malcolm) and Alan Richardson (Kitten). Produced by Martin Witts and Lesley Ackland for Leicester Square Theatre by arrangement with PBM, the show includes choreography by Sarah Johnston and musical direction by Matthew Reeve. Previews for Molly Wobbly starts at the Leicester Square Theatre Lounge from 27th January 2015, with opening night two days later on 29th January 2015. The show’s 7-week run ends on 14th March 2015.
‘1659. Mughal India. The imperial court, a place of opulence and excess; music, drugs, euniches and harems. Two brothers, whose mother’s death inspired the Taj Mahal, are heirs to this Muslim empire. Now they fight ferociously for succession. Dara, the crown prince, has the love of the people – and of his emperor father – but younger brother Aurangzeb holds a different vision for India’s future. Islam inspires poetry in Dara, a puritanical rigour in Aurangzeb. Can Jahanara, their beloved sister, assuage Aurangzeb’s resolve to seize the Peacock Throne and purge the empire?’ Tanya Ronder has adapted this stage production from Shahid Nadeem’s 2010 play, which was originally performed by Ajoka Theatre, Pakistan. This in-house production is directed by Nadia Fall and features Nathalie Armin, Rudi Dharmalingam, Vincent Ebrahim, Ranjit Krishnamma, Anjli Mohindra, Anneika Rose, Chook Sibtain, Anjana Vasan and Katrina Lindsay in the cast. Dara begins previews at Lyttelton, NT from 20th January 2015 and opens on 27th January 2015. It closes there on 4th April 2015.
THE HARD PROBLEM:
Written by Tom Stoppard, this is his first new play for the stage since 2006. His last play staged at the National was the 2002 trilogy, Coast of Utopia,which won the Tony Award for Best Play in 2007. The acclaimed playwright returns to the National with his latest work, The Hard Problem, which is directed by Nicholas Hytner. ‘Hilary, a young psychology researcher at a brain science institute, is nursing a private sorrow and a troubling question at work, where psychology and biology meet. If there is nothing but matter, what is consciousness? This is ‘the hard problem’ which puts Hilary at odds with colleagues who include her first mentor Spike, her boss Leo and the billionaire founder of the institute, Jerry. Is the day coming when the computer and the fMRI scanner will answer all the questions psychology can ask? Meanwhile Hilary needs a miracle, and she is prepared to pray for one.’ The cast features Vera Chok, Jonathan Coy, Damien Molony, Lucy Robinson, Parth Thakerar and Olivia Vinall in this in-house production, which begins previews at Dorfman, NT from 21st January 2015. It opens there on 28th January 2015 and runs until 16th April 2015.
By Julie Robinson: @missjulie25
Tuesday 6th January 2015