What's Hot in London: June 24 - Is Writing a Hit British Musical the Impossible Dream?

News   What's Hot in London: June 24 - Is Writing a Hit British Musical the Impossible Dream?
 
A hugely busy week in London has major openings around town. Here are some highlights...

Bend It Like Beckham brings a hit film back as a musical
Gurinder Chadha's 2002 film hit about a young female South Asian teenager from the London suburb of Southall who wishes to emulate her footballer hero David Beckham and pursue a professional footballing career has been turned into a musical, which Chadha herself is directing. It opens at London's Phoenix Theatre June 24.

The show is extremely personal to her: as she told an interviewer from the Daily Telegraph, "No one could have made this musical except me. When you put your heart and soul into something, what comes out is who you are." She's also unafraid of other recent British musicals like Made in Dagenham that have failed: "I’m totally aware of those precedents. The fact that it’s hard to create an original British musical doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try."

A scene from <i>Bend It Like Beckham</i>
A scene from Bend It Like Beckham Photo by Ellie Kurttz

From Hamlet to Bond and now Kafka: A London actor of award-winning versatility
Rory Kinnear is a regular at the National where his roles have included the title role in Hamlet and won an Olivier Award for his performance as Iago to Adrian Lester's Othello. He's also an award-winning playwright and screen actor, where he plays the recurring role of Bill Tanner in the James Bond series and he starred in Rufus Norris's 2012 film feature "Broken," for which he won a British Independent Film Award. Now he stretches his wings further afield, to star in Kafka's The Trial, opening at the Young Vic on June 26, a theatre that has serious claims to being the most interesting in London at the moment and from where Ivo van Hove's intense production of Miller's A View from the Bridge is headed to Broadway in the fall.

It is directed by Richard Jones, one of theatre land's most provocative and interesting directors, whose Broadway work has included the original Tony-winning 1997 production of Titanic.

The theatre's artistic director is David Lan, who is also consulting artistic director of the new Performing Arts Centre at New York's World Trade Centre, and recently commented in an interview with the Independent on Sunday of the venue's success: "We try to challenge the best artists to do the thing they’ve always wanted to do, to dream the dream." But he also admits, "I run this place very personally. I don’t do a balanced programme. I do the shows I want to do in the productions that I want to see them in." And this is a production I want to see, too! Piorot swaps a monocle for a dress in The Importance of Being Earnest
Oscar Wilde's immortal comedy gets a different spin this week: following in the footsteps of Brian Bedford, who played Lady Bracknell in the most recent Broadway outing of the play, David Suchet now swaps Poirot for a dress to play her in Adrian Noble's new production, opening at the Vaudeville, also on July 1.

In a recent interview with the Daily Telegraph he commented, "My head's so far above the parapet on this one – because of all the serious and very po-faced roles I've played recently – it could either be the end of a career or the beginning of a new one..." We'll find out next Thursday when the reviews appear.

Burt Bacharach - In Person and in Tribute
Ahead of the imminent London premiere of What's It All About: Bacharach Re-Imagined, beginning performances July 3 prior to an official opening July 15 at the Menier Chocolate Factory with co-conceiver and musical arranger Kyle Riabko again leading the cast as he did in its premiere at New York Theatre Workshop in 2013, Bacharach himself will be in town this week, appearing for one night only June 26 at the Royal Festival Hall in A Life in Song: Burt Bacharach Live in Concert.

Jake Gyllenhaal and Ruth Wilson
Jake Gyllenhaal and Ruth Wilson Photo by Joan Marcus

Further ahead: News headlines of the week

Constellations, Nick Payne's 2012 play that last year had a Broadway run with Jake Gyllenhaal and Ruth Wilson, returns to the West End from July 9 for a three-week run at the Trafalgar Studios

The Illusionists – Witness the Impossible, which played a sell-out season at Broadway's Marquis Theatre last November, is to make its West End debut, beginning performances Nov 14, prior to an official opening Nov. 16, at the Shaftesbury Theatre, for a run through Jan. 3. It will also simultaneously get reprised at Broadway's Neil Simon Theatre from Nov. 19.

Future Conditional, a brand-new play by Tamsin Oglesby that will launch director Matthew Warchus's regime at the helm of the Old Vic Theatre (where he replaces Kevin Spacey), will star television comedy and stage actor Rob Brydon; the busy Brydon has also previously been announced to reprise his Belfast appearance in The Painkiller opposite Kenneth Branagh in March 2016 as part of the Kenneth Branagh Company Theatre season at the Garrick Theatre.

For more updates
Follow me on Twitter here, @shentonstage, for rolling news updates as they happen! And keep checking the international section of Playbill.com for major stories.

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