What's Hot in London: July 1: Singing Callaway Sisters, Damon Albarn, Caryl Churchill and Joe DiPietro Hit Town

News   What's Hot in London: July 1: Singing Callaway Sisters, Damon Albarn, Caryl Churchill and Joe DiPietro Hit Town
Ann Hampton Callaway and sister Liz Callaway have regularly played in London over the years, including most recently at Crazy Coqs, the cabaret room at Brasserie Zedel off Piccadilly Circus, in separate engagements last year. 17 years ago, however, they brought their New York cabaret show Sibling Revelry to the Donmar Warehouse as part of that theatre's inaugural Divas at the Donmar season that would become a regular fixture at the venue, with subsequent years bringing the likes of Audra McDonald, Betty Buckley and Patti LuPone to its stage.

I should declare an interest (and accomplishment!) — I helped to initiate and program that first season in 1998, partly driven by a selfish desire to see Sibling Revelry. (I also persuaded Imelda Staunton — now wowing London audiences as Momma Rose in Gypsy — to be part of that first year's season). Now Ann (who has just married her long-time partner Kari Strand) and Liz are returning to London for the first time since then to reprise Sibling Revelry in a season at the London Hippodrome from July 7-11.

In other cabaret news: West End veteran Sally Ann Triplett, fresh from a run in Chichester's A Damsel in Distress and who recently starred on Broadway in The Last Ship, returns to London to play Crazy Coqs, also from July 7-11.

The week ahead also sees Canadian-born Kyle Riabko reprising What's It All About? Bacharach Reimagined, that he originally premiered at Off-Broadway's New York Theatre Workshop in 2013, at London's Menier Chocolate Factory from July 3.

Joe DiPietro becomes ubiquitous in the UK

Meanwhile, Broadway's two-time Tony winner Joe DiPietro — who won for his book and writing lyrics for the score of Memphis — will see the West End cast of that show newly joined next week by 2010 "X Factor" winner Matt Cardle, at the Shaftesbury Theatre from July 6, as original star Killian Donnelly leaves to star in the West End bow of Kinky Boots, heading to the Adelphi Theatre from August 21.

DiPietro is also newly represented in the UK by a new touring production of Love Me Tender, a re-titled version of his 2005 Broadway debut show All Shook Up, that began performances last month; and this week sees a new production of I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change come to Above the Arts, a new fringe space above the Arts Theatre off Leicester Square, running July 1-18. The cast comprises Julie Atherton and Simon Lipkin (both reunited from the original West End production of Avenue Q), Gina Beck (London's Phantom of the Opera, Wicked) and Samuel Holmes. Another Off-Broadway reprise
Also back in London this week — but for four performances only — is the Kander and Ebb revue The World Goes Round, running July 5-8 at Chelsea's The Pheasantry. West End stalwarts Oliver Tompsett (Wicked, Rock of Ages) and Debbie Kurup (original cast of The Bodyguard) are joined by newcomer Steffan Lloyd-Evans, plus Alexandra Da Silva and Sally Samad. Details.

Damon Albarn Musical Debuts in Manchester and Caryl Churchill Revived

The biannual Manchester International Festival —which features specially commissioned new work from cross-discipline artists — kicks off this week with the world premiere of wonder.land, opening July 2 at Manchester's Palace Theatre.

A new futuristic version of Lewis Carroll, it may share a title (almost) and source material with the Frank Wildhorn musical Wonderland that briefly played Broadway in 2011, but this one has a score by Damon Albarn, of the Brit pop group Blur, who previously composed Monkey: Journey to the West for the 2007 festival (and subsequently seen at New York's Lincoln Center in 2013), and it is directed by the National's artistic director Rufus Norris (the show will subsequently transfer to the National, beginning performances Nov. 27 in the Olivier Theatre).

Also returning to the festival are director Sarah Frankcom and actress Maxine Peake, who in 2013 collaborated on The Masque of Anarchy, for a revival of Caryl Churchill's The Striker (opening at the Royal Exchange on July 4), featuring specially commissioned music by Nico Muhly and Antony.

Churchill, who was recently represented at the National by a revival of A Light Shining in Buckinghamshire, is having a busy year: the Young Vic are also next week reviving A Number (opening July 7), as previously announced here in a production that premiered in Southampton last year starring real-life father and son John and Lex Shrapnel as a father and his son(s).

Churchill also has a new play Here We Go premiering at the National's Dorfman Theatre in December, directed by Dominic Cooke. In an interview in the Financial Times earlier this year, the director was tight-lipped about the contents of the play, except to say it was "startling in the way it uses very fresh forms," adding, "The really unusual thing about Caryl is that she doesn’t write a play unless she has found a completely original form that expresses the idea. She is like a contemporary artist working in theatre."

Bend it Like Beckham Scores Goals (And one critic scores an own goal)
Finally, last week's opening of Bend it Like Beckham, a new stage musical version of the 2002 film of the same name with music by Howard Goodall and lyrics by Charles Hart, has mostly had raves in the British press, including a rush of five-star reviews from the Daily Telegraph, Independent, The Stage and Sunday Express.

Some critics, however, can't resist showing their true colours (and not just their football ones): in the Sunday Times critic Christopher Hart declared, in an otherwise favourable review, "I snorted with laughter when a tough-looking white boy in hoodie, jeans and trainers skipped onto the stage and, seeing his good friend the Muslim schoolgirl in her headscarf, gave her a lovely big hug of greeting. I do hope her father wasn’t watching from behind his net curtains, or she might end up another honour-killing statistic (no arrests made)." Isn't it exactly those sort of prejudices the show is seeking to dispel?

For more updates
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