What’s Hot in London: April 8–14

London News   What’s Hot in London: April 8–14 Oslo will transfer to the National, and see what critics thought of the revivals of 42nd Street and The Goat .
What’s Hot in London
What’s Hot in London

Oslo to head from New York to London

Lincoln Center Theatre’s production of Oslo, J.T. Rogers’s political drama set to open on Broadway April 13, will play the National Theatre beginning September 5 ahead of an immediate transfer to The Pinter Theatre on the West End from September 30.

Michael Aronov,
Michael Aronov, Anthony Azizi, and Jefferson Mays in Oslo. T. Charles Erickson

The venture coincides with other leading British subsidised theatres striking deals with commercial partners, such as the current Royal Court run of The Kid Stays in the Picture. The production is billed as “produced by Patrick Milling Smith, Barbara Broccoli, Robert Evans, Michael G Wilson, Brian Carmody and Royal Court Theatre, in association with Complicite.”

There has been talk of The Kid Stays in the Picture transferring to Broadway before the end of the season, though those plans are yet to be announced.

Read: WHAT'S HOT IN LONDON: WILL SIMON MCBURNEY RETURN TO BROADWAY?

Other plans at The National

The National is also partnering with New York’s Public Theater to present a staged reading of All the President’s Men. Edited and directed by Nicolas Kent, the play is composed of scenes from the U.S. Senate’s confirmation hearings for members of President Trump’s Cabinet, including Rex Tillerson, Jeff Sessions and Scott Pruitt. It will be staged for one night only at the West End’s Vaudeville Theatre April 24, then at the Public in May.

The National will also present a season of works from queer artists subtitled LGBT Stories & Social Change that will mark the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalization of homosexuality in England and Wales. The lineup features readings of major gay plays that will be staged during London Pride week July 6-10, with directors that include Tarell Alvin McCraney and Stephen Daldry.

New Musicals About Pop Icons Take That and Cilla Black to Tour

The Band, a new musical about boy bands and co-produced by members of Take That, is to premiere at Manchester’s Opera House in September. The debut will be prior to a U.K national tour that is booking though July 2018, and the band itself will be played by the winners of a BBC reality TV contest called Let It Shine.

Meanwhile, Cilla - The Musical, a new musical about the late singer (and friend of the Beatles) Cilla Black, has announced that it will hold open auditions for the title role in Liverpool, Edinburgh, Birmingham, and Manchester in May. The show is set to begin performances September 7 at Liverpool’s Empire Theatre prior to a national tour.

In a press statement, executive producer and Black’s son Robert Willis commented: “My Mum loved singing and performing ever since she was a young girl and she was determined to do what she loved. Having performed at the clubs around Liverpool, including the famous Cavern Club, she got her big break when Brian Epstein spotted her and signed her. It was the start of everything that was to follow. She was a natural born performer who lived to entertain her audience. We are hoping to find that person who also dreams big and has the talent to match but just needs the chance to show it.”

David Binder
David Binder

Broadway producer to be guest artistic director of London’s LIFT

Producer David Binder, whose Broadway credits include Hedwig and the Angry Inch, 33 Variations, and Of Mice and Men, is to head up the next LIFT, a biannual festival of international theatre that will run in June 2018. Binder has had a long association with the festival already, which first introduced him to De La Guarda, a show he went on to produce in New York and around the world.

Binder, who was already artistic associate for the festival, is to be guest artistic director for 2018 only. An international search for a permanent artistic director will commence this summer.

Verdict: 42nd Street

The iconic Broadway musical 42nd Street first premiered at the Winter Garden in 1980 and later transferred to the West End’s Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in 1984. It is now back at the same theatre, where it officially opened April 4 with the Duchess of Cambridge, Catherine, in attendance.

The production is directed by the show’s original book writer Mark Bramble and features a cast led by Tom Lister Jr. as Julian Marsh and 80s Scottish pop star Sheena Easton as Dorothy Brock.

In The Times, Ann Treneman writes: “This is an old-fashioned glamour musical that keeps on giving when others would have called it quits..... The tap dancing by the ensemble of 40 (!) is extraordinary. Now we know the collective noun for tap dancers: an extravaganza.... You know in those old Hollywood movies where the director never thinks that enough is enough. “More! More!” they cry. That’s this revival of 42nd Street.

In the Daily Telegraph, Dominic Cavendish writes: “I loved it in the way one can’t help loving achingly beautiful things. It has tremendous spirit and more gorgeous technicolour (a shift of emphasis from the original Gower Champion staging) than even its predecessor here, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. There’s no let-up from the moment the red velvet curtain rises—pausing to show tantalizing rows of dancing feet—on a frenetic rehearsal scene, the company paddle-flapping in sync like demented penguins, right to the titular finale song, in which the dancers, all in silver and gold, cascade down a staircase, which lights up on cue, like a human lottery win.”

For The Stage, Tim Bano writes: “When that army of dancers gets going, when the rows of lights start twinkling and tap shoes hit the bleachers extending towards the audience from the back of the stage, it’s simply, overwhelmingly, stunning.”

Verdict: The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?

Edward Albee’s 2002 Tony-winning play The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? has returned to London in a new staging that opened at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket April 5. The production is just around the corner from the recently opened revival of Albee’s earlier masterpiece Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

The_Goat_Or_Who_Is_Sylvia_London_Production_Photos_2017_HR
Damian Lewis and Sophie Okonedo Jonah Persson

Starring Damian Lewis (Homeland) and Sophie Okonedo (Tony winner for A Raisin the Sun and seen last year on Broadway in The Crucible), the reviews vary greatly.

In The Guardian, Michael Billington awards it five-stars, dubs it a “superb revival” and goes on to say: “The revelation of [director Ian] Rickson’s production, however, is that is as much a play about marriage as about erotic fixation. Lewis and Okonedo establish from the start a joshing intimacy that makes you believe they are a couple.”

Quentin Letts at the Daily Mail gives it one star and writes: “Damian Lewis in a West End show? Oooh, his fans will think, let’s treat Auntie Mabel and make it a family outing. He was so good in TV’s Wolf Hall and Homeland. Anyone got the number for the Haymarket’s box office? Don’t do it. Edward Albee’s 2002 play The Goat, Or Who Is Sylvia? is self-indulgent, faux-daring rubbish, a repetitive ’taboo-challenger’ about a man having a fully sexual love affair with a goat. Folks, it’s baaaaad.”

For The Stage, Natasha Tripney concludes that it is an “assured and compelling revival of Albee’s magnificently murky late masterwork.”

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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