What’s Hot in London: September 24-30

Special Features   What’s Hot in London: September 24-30 Jersey Boys will say farewell, Follies will take the National, and Seth Rudetsky is to reprise Disaster! in London.
What’s Hot in London
What’s Hot in London

Jersey Boys to close in London.
Hot on the heels of the recent announcement that Jersey Boys is to close on Broadway January 15, after an 11-year run there, earning its place as the 12th longest-running show in Broadway history, it has now been announced that it will also shutter at the West End’s Piccadilly Theatre March 26, after a nine-year run here that began originally at the Prince Edward.

It is currently the sixth longest-running musical on the London boards, after Les Misérables, The Phantom of the Opera, The Lion King, Mamma Mia! and Wicked. It will subsequently hit the touring road for a second U.K. national tour, beginning performances at Birmingham’s New Alexandra Theatre in December 2017. Meanwhile, Phantom of the Opera will also mark its 30th anniversary in the West End with a special gala performance October 10, featuring current and past cast members.

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? HR
Imelda Staunton Charlie Gray

New production of Follies set for National Theatre.
After last week’s news that Imelda Staunton is to return to the London stage in a new production of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, beginning performances February 22, 2017, prior to an official opening March 9, 2017, at the West End’s Harold Pinter Theatre, she will also return to the National to star as Sally Durant Plummer in a new production of Follies, joined by Janie Dee as Phyllis.

In a press statement, Rufus Norris has confirmed, “We are thrilled Imelda Staunton and Janie Dee will return to the National in 2017 in Stephen Sondheim and James Goldman’s masterpiece Follies. Musical theatre is hugely important and of course, like audiences all over the world I love Stephen’s work. Imelda’s performance in Guys and Dolls at the NT is the stuff of legend and I am delighted she is to take the lead in Follies under the direction of Dominic Cooke. We will announce further information at our autumn press conference on October 11."

In an interview in the Daily Mail, Staunton told Baz Bamigboye of doing this back-to-back with Virginia Woolf?, “It’ll be nice to do that double whammy.” She added, “They’re all tough things to do. But it’s good. People say women don’t get roles to do but—touch wood—I’ve been extremely lucky.”

Reviews: The Libertine.
Stephen Jeffreys’ 1994 play, first seen at the Royal Court and subsequently staged at Chicago’s Steppenwolf with John Malkovich in the title role before being turned into a film that starred Johnny Depp, has been revived in the West End, opening at the Theatre Royal Haymarket September 27 starring Dominic Cooper in the title role.

Did he seduce the critics? It depends on which you read. For Michael Billington, writing a four-star review in The Guardian, “Cooper rightly makes no attempt to charm the audience. Instead, he shows us a complex figure who writes like an angel, lives like a devil and who, for all his deathbed repentance, seems as doomed as Mozart’s Don Giovanni.… Cooper is totally commanding as Rochester. He lends the character a brooding inwardness so that, even in the midst of his boorish boozing and debauchery, you feel there is a speculative mind at work. Cooper doesn’t play for sympathy, but allows the audience to make its own moral judgment about a complicated hero.”

In a three-star notice for the Daily Telegraph, Dominic Cavendish writes of Cooper, “He should be in his theatrical, testosterone-charged element here, showing off his peacock feathers to maximum advantage. And yet the actor, 38, sucks with too much restraint on this plum role.… [He] needs more lead in his pencil.”

And in a three-star review in The Independent online, Paul Taylor writes, “[Cooper is] curiously colourless and uncompelling as Rochester. It’s a decent performance but, as Mae West might have said, decency has nothing to do with it.”

Reviews: Floyd Collins.
Adam Guettel and Tina Landau’s 1996 Off-Broadway musical Floyd Collins has received a new London production that opened at Wilton’s Music Hall September 28, after two previous outings at the Bridewell in 1999 and again at Southwark Playhouse in 2012.

In a five-star review for The Independent, Paul Taylor dubbed it “a thing of wonder—a phenomenally haunting piece that leaves you in no doubt that Guettel, the grandson of Richard Rodgers, has inherited his forebear’s genius…. I don’t think the hairs on the back of my neck got a moment’s rest, such is shiver-inducing sound-world Guettel creates. The twang of country music is warped and darkened by operatic atonality; bluegrass meets Bartok; the ravishing melodic lines go on long chromatic quests as the characters unfold their feelings.” He concluded his review, “On no account to be missed."”

Guardian critic Michael Billington was less enamoured, writing in a three-star notice, “For all the sophistication of Guettel’s score, there were times when I felt as entombed as the show’s hero.”

Other production and casting news…
Rufus Sewell, Tim Key and Paul Ritter will star in the London return of Yasmina Reza’s Art at the Old Vic from December 10… Seth Rudetsky will appear in the London concert premiere of his 2016 Broadway entry Disaster! for two performances November 20 at the Charing Cross Theatre… Kwame Kwei-Armah is to direct the U.K premiere of One Love: The Bob Marley Musical, that he previously staged at Baltimore Centre Stage where he is artistic director, running at Birmingham Rep Theatre from March 10 to April 8.

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

Catherine Ricafort, Roger Bart, Baylee Littrell, Seth Rudetsky, Rachel York, Kevin Chamberlin and Olivia Phillip in <i>Disaster! </i>
Catherine Ricafort, Roger Bart, Baylee Littrell, Seth Rudetsky, Rachel York, Kevin Chamberlin and Olivia Phillip in Disaster! Jeremy Daniel
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