What’s Hot in London: October 8-14

News   What’s Hot in London: October 8-14 Hamilton will hold open auditions in London, the National Theatre welcomes plays seen in Washington D.C. and New York, and Damian Lewis brings another Albee work to the British stage.
What’s Hot in London
What’s Hot in London

National Theatre announces plans for 2017.
At a press conference held October 11, National Theatre artistic director Rufus Norris announced a slate of new shows for 2017. Yael Farber will offer the European premiere of her radical revision of Salomé, first produced by Washington DC’s Shakespeare Theatre Compan; and the European premiere of Lindsey Ferrentino’s Ugly Lies the Bone, originally produced by Roundabout Theatre Company in the Black Box Theatre in 2015, will open in the Lyttelton March 1. Also newly announced is the world premiere of Lucy Kirkwood’s Mosquitos, starring Olivia Coleman, on June 6.

HR - Nathan Lane.jpg
Nathan Lane

Further casting was announced for the upcoming productions of Angels in America (including Andrew Garfield, Russell Tovey, Denise Gough and James McArdle all returning to the National, with Tony winner Nathan Lane making his NT debut) and Follies (with three-time Olivier Award winner Philip Quast joining the already announced Imelda Staunton and Janie Dee).

The theatre will also address the fall-out from “Brexit,” the referendum that will lead to Britain exiting from membership of the European Union. My Country: A Work in Progress will draw on material collected by the National Theatre through a listening project that began in June and was recorded everywhere from Londonderry and Glasgow to Leicester and Merthyr Tydfil. As Norris said, given that the theatre programs its work up to two years in advance, “This is pretty much as quick as we can get something into the theatre. We don’t know how that’s going to grow and develop.” He added, “One of the dangers in this situation is going to be, ‘We need to tell the world what we think about this,’ when one of the problems that was highlighted by the referendum was that people are really fed up of being told by other people what to think about this. So it really did feel that our first duty in this situation was to get out and give voice to people who have expressed the fact that they have no voice.”

Edward Albee
Edward Albee Monica Simoes

Edward Albee gets his due.
No sooner had it been announced that Imelda Staunton and Conleth Hill are to star in Edward Albee’s early masterpiece Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at the Harold Pinter Theatre in 2017 came news that Damian Lewis will star in a new West End production of Edward Albee’s 2002 Tony winning play The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?, beginning performances March 24 at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket prior to an official opening April 5. The two will be playing simultaneously in London for a time.

Reviews: The Dresser
Ronald Harwood’s 1980 play The Dresser, about the backstage life of a touring Shakespearean company during the Second World War has returned to the West End. (The play became a feature film for which both Albert Finney and Tom Courtenay were Oscar-nominated.) It opened October 12 at the Duke of York’s Theatre, starring Reece Shearsmith in the title role with Ken Stott as the actor-manager Sir, whom he coaxes and cajoles through his 227th performance as King Lear.

In the four-star notice in the Daily Telegraph, Dominic Cavendish dubbed the play “funny, dark, moving and a veritable gift for actors,” and duly proves to be again here: “Ken Stott, such a masterful actor, never found wanting, is magnificent as Sir, but the revelation is Reece Shearsmith as Norman. In a five-star review in the Daily Mail, Quentin Letts says of Stott, “Aged only 61, Ken Stott surely secures himself ‘grand old man’ status with his performance as ancient actor ‘Sir.’ ... I became so wrapped up by Mr Stott’s acting that I quite forgot I was watching him and felt sure I was seeing Sir in his Learish garb.”

Jonathan Groff in <i>Hamilton</i>
Jonathan Groff in Hamilton Photo by Joan Marcus

More production news
The forthcoming production of Dreamgirls, receiving its U.K. premiere from November 19 at the Savoy Theatre, has already extended its booking period before it even begins performances. It is now booking through May 6. The West End production of Hamilton has announced plans to hold an open casting call in early November. The producers are seeing versatile singer/actors who rap (and can move well) or hip-hop dancers (who are versatile in all forms of contemporary dance and can sing well), but have stated that they will not be auditioning for the role of King George.

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

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