What's Hot in London: Sonia Friedman Is Taking Over the World — and She's Bringing Harry Potter With Her

News   What's Hot in London: Sonia Friedman Is Taking Over the World — and She's Bringing Harry Potter With Her Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has gone on sale to the general public Oct. 30, after the initial priority booking period for those that pre-registered sold out in hours.

Even without this, Sonia Friedman is currently the West End's busiest and most successful theatre producer. This weekend she's in New York heading up the Broadway producing partnership behind the transfer of the Almeida's King Charles III that she also previously presented in the West End and is now also producing on a U.K. tour. It won this year's Olivier Award for Best New Play.

Her ongoing production of Sunny Afternoon, a jukebox musical based on the music of Ray Davies and the Kinks, won this year's Olivier Award for Best New Musical, and it continues to run at the Harold Pinter Theatre with its second cast. She is also currently represented in the West End by Farinelli and the King (transferred from the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at the Globe to the Duke of York's) and the original musical Bend it Like Beckham at the Phoenix, both of which will be strong contenders for next year's Oliviers for Best New Play and Musical, respectively.

Her hit production of Hamlet, starring Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role, that sold out within days of going on sale a year in advance of its run, closes at the Barbican Oct. 31, but not before the international live broadcast has proved to be the most successful so far.

But all of this is being rapidly eclipsed by the already juggernaut success of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, an original "Harry Potter" story being created for the stage by its original creator J.K Rowling, working with playwright Jack Thorne and director John Tiffany, that went on priority sale this week and immediately sold out its initial booking period from June 7-Sept. 18, 2016. A second booking period Sept. 21-Jan. 8, has now been put on general sale with effect from Oct 31.

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Look to this to sell out fast. And that's long before the show has been cast, let alone gone into rehearsal. Inevitably, given the demand, there have been complaints about the online booking systems failing to cope. The producers have commented, "With over 70,000 people trying to purchase tickets at one time the ticketing systems are currently working at capacity. Customers who are having difficulties with the online booking system can be assured we are doing everything we can to ensure the process is a smooth and efficient as possible. At this stage the vast majority of customers have had their bookings processed within an hour."

Meanwhile, Friedman is also involved in London's hottest musical revival — when the Menier Chocolate Factory put tickets on sale for its production next month of Funny Girl, the entire run sold out in just 90 minutes. Now, before it even opens at the Menier, Friedman and Scott Landis have joined forces to announce an immediate West End transfer to the Savoy after it ends its run at the Menier, as reported here. It ends its run at the Menier March 5 and reopens at the Savoy from April 9.

In a joint press statement, Friedman and Landis have commented, "2016 will mark the fiftieth anniversary of the original London production of Funny Girl. It's enormously exciting to be bringing this legendary musical back to the West End for the first time since 1966, in a brand new production starring the incredible Sheridan Smith. We are also thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the hugely gifted, multi-award winning Broadway director Michael Mayer."

Opening this week

  • The Old Vic's second production under new artistic director Matthew Warchus' watch, The Hairy Ape, a rare revival of Eugene O'Neill's play, opened Oct. 29, bringing director Richard Jones (Broadway's Titanic) back to the Old Vic where worked extensively in the mid-80s. Bertie Carvel, 2013 Tony nominee for Miss Trunchbull in Matlida the Musical, stars as stoker Yank.
  • The prolific David Hare's latest play, The Moderate Soprano, has opened at Hampstead Theatre Oct. 29, starring Roger Allam — the original stage Javert in the RSC's Les Miserables — as the founder of the private British countryside opera house at Glyndebourne.
  • Meanwhile, Hampstead's last hit show, Mr Foote's Other Leg, transfers to the Haymarket, where it is partly set, to reopen Nov. 4, with Simon Russell Beale reprising his performance in the title role.
  • Downtown New York theatre artist and provocateur Penny Arcade brings her Edinburgh hit Longing Last Longer to open at Soho Theatre Nov. 4.
  • The 2007 Broadway musical version of the cult 1980 film Xanadu makes its overdue London debut Nov. 2 at Southwark Playhouse.
  • Also from New York, Broadway's Julia Murney is doing two shows at the Hippodrome Nov. 2. She will be joined at the late show by West End guests Eva Noblezada, Ian Stroughair, Tim Dreisen, Verity Quade, Nic Rouleau, Lauren Ward and Joe Aaron Reid.
  • Rosalie Craig stars as Rosalind in Shakespeare's As You Like It, opening at the National's Olivier Theatre Nov. 3.
  • Donald Margulies' Pulitzer Prize-winning play Dinner with Friends is revived at London's Park Theatre, opening Oct. 30 with a cast that includes Hari Dhillon (Disgraced).

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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