What's Hot in London: April 1–7

London News   What's Hot in London: April 1–7
 
Heading toward the Oliviers, Harry Potter casting news, and verdicts for Don Juan and The Life.
What’s Hot in London
What’s Hot in London

Olivier Awards Coverage and Featured Performers
As we approach London theatre’s biggest prize ceremony, taking place at the Royal Albert Hall—its biggest venue yet—April 9, full details of coverage have been announced for the 2017 Olivier Awards, as well as the roll call of featured artists who will make appearances during the ceremony.

The awards will be broadcast live on Magic Radio in the U.K and Sirius XM in the U.S., with a delayed TV highlights show being transmitted that night on prime-time TV in the U.K. (8–10 PM GMT) and via Facebook to territories beyond the U.K (3 PM–5 PM ET). In addition, there will be a red carpet special highlighting arrivals at the venue from 4:30–6 PM GMT (11:30 AM–1 PM ET) hosted by Anita Rani, Jamie Lambert, and NY1 presenter Frank DiLella.

Performers during the ceremony will include Gary Barlow, Amber Riley, Tim Minchin, and the companies of School of Rock, Jesus Christ Superstar, and The Red Shoes. Six-time Tony winner Audra McDonald will perform as part of the In Memoriam section.

Harry Potter and More Casting News
New casting has been announced for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Beginning May 24, Jamie Glover will assume the title role of Harry from Jamie Parker, who departs from the Palace Theatre May 21. Additionally, Emma Lowndes and recent RADA graduate Theo Ancient will take over as Harry’s wife Ginny and son Albus, respectively.

There’s also new casting at the West End production of Aladdin, running at the Prince Edward Theatre: Matthew Croke will take over the title role beginning June 5.

Production News
The current sell-out Almeida production of Hamlet, starring Andrew Scott in the title role, is to transfer to the West End after it closes in Islington April 15; it will resume performances June 9 at the Harold Pinter Theatre. Scott commented, “We have been overwhelmed with the reaction to our interpretation of Hamlet and I’m so happy that we can share it with a larger audience.”

Also transferring after its current run at the Menier Chocolate Factory is Trevor Nunn’s revival of Terence Rattigan’s play Love in Idlenes—the first revival since its original 1944 debut. A cast headed by Eve Best, Antony Head and Edward Bluemel will resume performances May 11 at the Apollo Theatre. Performances at the Menier Chocolate Factory run through April 29.

The current Rome season of four Shakespeare plays will transfer from Stratford-upon-Avon to London’s Barbican Theatre : Julius Caesar and Antony & Cleoptra, which have already opened at Stratford, as well as new productions of Titus Andronicus and Coriolanus (opening in Stratford in July and September, respectively), will resume performances in London November 6. The repertoire is to be reordered to bring out the chronological history of the themes and narratives in the plays.

Five Guys Named Moe, which premiered at London’s Theatre Royal Stratford East in 1990 before transferring to the West End, is to be revived in London in a production directed by creator Clark Peters. It will run in a new pop-up theatre at Marble Arch beginning August 28.

Verdict: Don Juan in Soho
The prolific Patrick Marber, currently represented in the West End as director of Travesties and recently at the National as writer of a new adaptation of Hedda Gabler, has now revised and directed a new production of his 2006 play Don Juan In Soho. The first time out, it starred Welsh comedy actor Rhys Ifans in the title role; now it features former Dr. Who (and a famous RSC Hamlet) David Tennant.

Critical opinion has been sharply divided, ranging from two to five stars. In the palpable hit corner, Paul Taylor leads in The Independent with a five-star rave, declaring, “Patrick Marber’s revival of his 2006 play can make you almost vomit with laughter—and anxiety—as it updates this archetypal erotomane.” He says of its star, “David Tennant is every bit as magnificent in the title role here as he was as Hamlet in Gregory Doran’s celebrated RSC production.” In a four-star notice for The Guardian, Michael Billington asserts, “It is Tennant’s performance that gives the play a disturbing ambivalence. He skips nimbly from one seduction to the next.”

On the other side of the critical fence, Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph bluntly declares, “I’m not going to beat about the bush. Patrick Marber’s updated version of Moliere’s hoary 1665 comedy strikes me as pants” (‘pants’ being British for trash).

Verdict: The Life
Exactly twenty years after its Broadway premiere, original director Michael Blakmore (now aged 88) has returned to stage the U.K professional premiere of Cy Coleman, Ira Gasman and David Newman’s musical The Life.

As Ann Treneman notes in a review for The Times, “The story was inspired by the old Times Square, as it was in the early Eighties, before its ultra-bright snazzed-up phase. I can well remember how it was: tacky and dangerous, seedy dive bars everywhere, with pimps and chancers, prostitutes in suspect footwear, everywhere.” The show, she says, “has to walk a difficult line between the reality of such a life and depicting it in a way that doesn’t feel hackneyed. The story occupies the small space that exists where Starsky and Hutch meets Klute. Mostly, it resonates.... There are some top-notch, heartfelt and gutsy performances.”

In the Evening Standard, Henry Hitchings writes, “Michael Blakemore, who’s previously directed it on a grander scale, presides over a full-blooded production that’s comparatively modest in dimensions but not in ambition.”

For further news…
Stay tuned to Playbill.com and follow me on Twitter @shentonstage for rolling news updates as they happen.

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