PLAYBILL PICKS: Anticipation! Playbill Contributors Share Titles They're Eager to See in Fall 2013

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07 Sep 2013

Alexander Hanson stars in Stephen Ward.
Photo by Simon Turtle

MARK SHENTON, London Correspondent

While Broadway has a veritable feast of big Shakespeares (Romeo and Juliet with Orlando Bloom, Macbeth with Ethan Hawke and Britain's own and brilliant Anne-Marie Duff, and the Shakespeare's Globe double bill of Twelfth Night and Richard III, with Mark Rylance as Olivia and in the title role, respectively), London is not short of high-profile Shakespeares ahead, with stars that include Sheridan Smith and David Walliams (in A Midsummer Night's Dream) and Jude Law (in the title role of Henry V), all three of them in the latest productions from the Michael Grandage Company, plus Tom Hiddleston (in Coriolanus, at the Donmar Warehouse) and David Tennant (back with the RSC for the first time since his Hamlet, to star in the title role of Richard II at Stratford and then the Barbican).

But the one I'm most intrigued by is Vanessa Redgrave (who is 76) and James Earl Jones (82), reunited after their Broadway and West End runs in Driving Miss Daisy, playing the usually younger sparring lovers Beatrice and Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing at the Old Vic, under the direction of Mark Rylance, previewing from Sept. 7 prior to an official opening Sept. 19. It could be a disaster, of course, but both actors are never less than watchable.

There are lots of big as well as smaller musicals ahead, including new ones from both Tim Rice (From Here to Eternity) and Andrew Lloyd Webber (Stephen Ward). What a pity they've not re-teamed together, though: Eternity has Rice providing lyrics to Stuart Brayson's music, while Lloyd Webber teams up with his Sunset Boulevard collaborators, playwright Christopher Hampton and lyricist Don Black. It previews from Dec. 3, prior to an official opening Dec. 19, at the Aldwych Theatre.

I'm also looking forward to the world premiere of American Psycho at the Almeida, with music and lyrics by Duncan Sheik (who wrote the brilliant Spring Awakening) and book by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, based, of course, on the novel of the same name by Brett Easton Ellis. It will be directed by Rupert Goold, in a production that was announced long before he was appointed as Michael Attenborough's successor as artistic director at the Almeida, so it will be fascinating to see this new chapter in the Almeida's life begin with a co-production with his former company Headlong. It previews from Dec. 3 prior to an official opening Dec. 12.

Another musical world premiere will see the Tori Amos-scored The Light Princess opening at the National – a rare new musical there where, under Nick Hytner's regime, only Jerry Springer – the Opera and London Road have premiered in the last decade. But both those shows pushed the musical in brand-new directions, so let's hope the same is true here. Marianne Elliott directs a cast that features Rosalie Craig, one of the best emerging musical theatre stars in the U.K.

Coming from New York, I can't wait to see Kander and Ebb's The Scottsboro Boys again – I saw it in both its original Off-Broadway and short-lived Broadway incarnations at the Vineyard and Lyceum Theatres, respectively, and Susan Stroman is reprising her directing and choreographic duties with several of the original New York cast, too, at the Young Vic (one of whom, Colman Domingo, is also reprising his own solo show A Boy and His Soul at Tricycle first). The Scottsboro Boys previews from Oct. 18 prior to opening Oct. 29.

On the plays front, another New York import of Nicky Silver's The Lyons to the Menier Chocolate Factory should be a hoot – I saw and loved it at Broadway's Cort Theatre, where it transferred from Off-Broadway's Vineyard, last year. Its original director Mark Brokaw directs a British cast led by Isla Blair. It previews from Sept. 19 prior to an official opening Sept. 26.

I can't wait to see Barry Humphries in his (allegedly farewell) tour of Eat, Pray, Laugh, in which he'll be Sir Les Patterson, Sandy Stone and, of course, Dame Edna, kicking off at Milton Keynes Theatre from Oct. 23, then visiting Cardiff and Edinburgh before arriving at the London Palladium in November.


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