What's Hot in London: Cats, Xanadu and Holly Golightly Cross the Pond

News   What's Hot in London: Cats, Xanadu and Holly Golightly Cross the Pond
 
After the superb showing of British plays, players, directors and designers at this year's Tony Awards, including Best Play, Director and Leading Actor wins for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Best Play Revival for Skylight, and Leading Actress for Helen Mirren in The Audience as well as featured actor Richard McCabe as Prime Minister Harold Wilson, the traffic isn't all one way.

The week ahead brings the UK premiere of Stephen Adly Guirgis' 2011 Broadway play The Motherf*cker with the Hat to the National Theatre, opening in the Lyttelton June 17, directed by Indhu Rubasingham, currently artistic director of north London's Tricycle. (It has also just been announced that she will next direct the world premiere of American playwright Marcus Gardley's A Wolf In Snakeskin Shoes, a modern adaptation of Moliere's Tartuffe, at her home theatre from Oct. 8.)

At Chichester Festival Theatre, meanwhile, Broadway director/choreographer Rob Ashford is directing the stage premiere of a new version of the 1937 film A Damsel in Distress that features songs by George and Ira Gershwin, opening June 10 with a cast that includes Richard Fleeshman (seen on Broadway reprising the role he originated in the West End's Ghost the Musical), Summer Strallen (the West End's Top Hat), Sally Ann Triplett (The Last Ship on Broadway), Desmond Barrit, Isla Blair and Nicholas Farrell.

Melle Stewart and Summer Strallen
Melle Stewart and Summer Strallen Photo by Johan Persson

Rebecca Gilman's play Luna Gale, which received its world premiere at Chicago's Goodman Theatre in 2014 under the direction of Robert Falls, is to receive its UK premiere in a new production at London's Hampstead Theatre, beginning performances this week June 13, prior to an official opening June 22, for a run through July 18.

This week also brings the UK premiere of Moisés Kaufman's stage version of Tennessee Williams' short story One Arm, opening June 12 at Southwark Playhouse's second studio space.

Further ahead at Southwark Playhouse, Austin Pendleton's Orson's Shadow — first seen at Chicago's Steppenwolf in 2000 and subsequently separately produced Off-Broadway in 2005 — is to receive its UK premiere there from July 1. Set backstage at London's Royal Court Theatre in 1960 and revolving around Welles' production of Ionesco's Rhinceros that year with Laurence Olivier and Joan Plowright, the production features Gina Bellman as Vivien Leigh and Edward Bennett as Kenneth Tynan. Further ahead, director Dominic Cooke — who regularly championed and directed the work of American playwright Christopher Shinn when he was artistic director of the Royal Court — makes his first return to the stage since running that Sloane Square Theatre in 2013 to direct the UK premiere of Shinn's Teddy Ferrara, running from Oct. 7 at the Donmar Warehouse. Telling the story of a student tragedy that sends a campus into turmoil, it is based on the case of a young student who jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge after his roommate used a webcam to watch him kissing another man. It was originally premiere at Chicago's Goodman Theatre in 2013.

William M. Hoffman's As Is — Broadway's first AIDS play when it premiered there in 1985 — returns to London in a production first seen at the fringe Finborough Theatre in Earl's Court in 2013 and now being revived for a short West End run at Trafalgar Studios 2 from July 1. It is directed, both poignantly and pertinently, by Andrew Keates, a young actor-turned-director who discovered he was himself HIV positive after first directing it in 2013 (and subsequently went public with his diagnosis).

At Leicester's Curve, new artistic director Nikolai Foster is to direct Richard Greenberg's 2013 Broadway version of Breakfast at Tiffany's next March (running March 3-12), with a cast led by Pixie Lott as Holly Golightly.

Pixie Lott
Pixie Lott

Musicals in the News
The previously announced return of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats to the London Palladium, where it had a sell-out Christmas season last year that had an extended run through April, is to star Beverley Knight this time around as Grizabella, opening a ten-week season at the London Palladium from Oct. 23. Played in the last season by Nicole Scherzinger, who was then replaced by Kerry Ellis, Knight took over from Heather Headley in The Bodyguard and is currently to be seen starring in the London edition of Broadway's Memphis.

The Smallest Show on Earth, a new musical based on the 1957 film of the same name that starred Peter Sellers and Margaret Rutherford (but was known in the US as "Big Time Operators," is to premiere at Colchester's Mercury Theatre, beginning performances Sept. 25 prior to a national UK tour. Folding in songs from the Irving Berlin catalogue, the score will "Blue Skies," "Shakin' the Blues Away," "Let Yourself Go," "Steppin' Out with my Baby" and "How Deep is the Ocean."

Beverley Knight
Beverley Knight

Xanadu, the 2007 Tony-nominated Broadway musical version of the cult 1980 film about a woman who makes dreams come true, is to receive its U.K. premiere at London's Southwark Playouse, beginning performances Oct. 16 for a run through Nov. 21.

Other Plays in the News: Michelle Dockery, Janet McTeer and Dominic West at Donmar and more
Also in the Donmar season, Tony winner Janet McTeer (A Doll's House), Dominic West (TV's "The Wire") and Michelle Dockery (TV's "Downton Abbey," in which she played Mary) will headline the cast of the 30th anniversary revival of Christopher Hampton's Les Liaisons Dangereuses, directed by artistic director Josie Rourke, running from Dec. 11. The Donmar will also revive Abi Morgan's Splendour, running from July 30, with a cast led by two-time Tony nominee Sinéad Cusack.

Actor James Fox (whose films included such 1960s classics as "The Servant" and "Performance") will appear with his actor son Jack Fox in Dear Lupin, a stage version of the correspondence that passed between journalist and writer Roger Mortimer and his son Charlie, beginning performances July 30 at the West End's Apollo Theatre.

Casting for the opening productions of Kenneth Branagh's productions of The Winter's Tale and Rattigan's Harlequinade, running in rep at the Garrick Theatre from Oct. 17, will include Hadley Fraser (Broadway's The Pirate Queen), rising star Tom Bateman (who played Shakespeare in the West End stage premiere of Shakespeare in Love last year) and Shakespearean veteran Michael Pennington.

Offstage News of the Week
The big news offstage this week was the announcement of Jonathan Church of his post-Chichester plans after he steps down from running that hit factory in the West Sussex countryside south of London after a decade at the artistic helm. As reported here, he is to set up a new, independent production company Jonathan Church Productions Limited (JCPL). It is intended to be a platform to continue the development of both his producing and directing output in the future, and will be supported by Delfont Mackintosh Theatres (DMT). As well as being a minority shareholder, they will also provide JCPL with a development fund to enable him to create new work for West End theatres and beyond.

For more updates
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