London’s Almeida speaks up.
London’s Almeida Theatre is creating theatrical headlines by launching Figures of Speech, a major digital film project to coincide with Trump’s inauguration as 45th President of the United States.
As Almeida artistic director Rupert Goold, who is spearheading the film project, commented January 20, “In the wake of 2016’s political events and ahead of the vast wave of international elections in 2017—beginning today alongside the inauguration of the new leader of the free world—Figures of Speech will unearth the world’s most vital speeches for a new audience. We want to remember what leadership sounds like. At the Almeida we believe what changes opinion, narrative, momentum, are words. Words carefully crafted and meticulously delivered by inspirational women and men, wherever a meaningful audience can be found. It is up to us who hear these words, and watch these plays, to discover the truth.”
The first, launched online January 20, features Vanessa Redgrave reading Václav Havel’s Words on Words. Throughout 2017, Figures of Speech will put history’s greatest speeches back on the map through a series of films read by an army of actors and young leaders released online, in partnership with the Guardian newspaper.
Goold also announced a spring and summer season of plays that will include Ben Whishaw returning to the theatre in Christopher Shinn’s new play Against, as well as a revival of Martin Crimp’s 1993 play The Treatment, and the premiere of James Graham’s Ink that revolves around Rupert Murdoch’s 1969 launch of Britain’s most influential tabloid newspaper The Sun.
The Lloyd Webbers are making the news.
It’s not just Andrew Lloyd Webber that is making the news, but also his son. While Lord Lloyd Webber will shortly have four musicals playing simultaneously on Broadway when last year’s London production of Sunset Boulevard transfers to the Palace to join the ongoing productions of The Phantom of the Opera, Cats, and School of Rock, Sunset Boulevard is also to receive another U.K. revival at Leicester’s Curve beginning September 16, prior to a regional tour. It will star Ria Jones as Norma Desmond, a Welsh-born actor who was Glenn Close’s standby for the London run and took over for four performances when Close was ill. Jones also originated the role of Norma Desmond in the original try-out of the show at Lloyd Webber’s private Sydmonton Festival.
Meanwhile Nicholas Lloyd Webber—Andrew’s 38-year-old son—is scoring a new musical entitled Fat Friends The Musical, based on a long-running TV series of the same name that ran five seasons after debuting in 2000. It will begin performances at the Grand Theatre in Leeds November 7, starring Jodie Prenger.
Casting and touring news…
Wicked, which previously played a 15-city U.K./Ireland tour contemporaneously to its current West End outing at the Apollo Victoria, has announced that it will return to play a further ten cities in 2018.
Further casting has been announced for the new production of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II’s Carousel that is being co-produced by English National Opera and the GradeLinnit Company for a run at the London Coliseum beginning April 7. Joining the previously announced Alfie Boe as Billy Bigelow and Katherine Jenkins as Julie Jordan are Nicholas Lyndurst as Star Keeper, Brenda Edwards as Nettie Fowler, Alex Young as Carrie Pipperidge, and Gavin Spokes as Enoch Snow.
Casting is now complete for the new production of Edward Albee’s The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? that will begin performances March 24 at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. Joining the previous announced Damian Lewis and Sophie Okonedo are Jason Hughes and newcomer Archie Madekwe.
The U.K. premiere of Kwame Kwei-Amah’s One Love: The Bob Marley Musical that will run at Birmingham Rep from March 10 will star Mitchell Brunings, making his U.K. stage debut as Marley, with Alexia Khadime as his wife Rita. Her previous stage roles include Nabulungi in The Book of Mormon, Eponine in Les Misérables, Elphaba in Wicked, and Nala in The Lion King. The Donmar Warehouse’s world premiere of Steve Waters’ Limehouse, beginning March 2, will feature Roger Allam (the original Javert in Les Misérables) and Paul Chahidi (seen on Broadway in the all-male Mark Rylance Twelfth Night).
For further news…
Stay tuned to Playbill.com, and follow me on Twitter @shentonstage for rolling news updates as they happen.