What's Hot in London: The Ladies Love the Newest Young Tony Winner and Is Funny Girl Crossing the Pond?

News   What's Hot in London: The Ladies Love the Newest Young Tony Winner and Is Funny Girl Crossing the Pond?
Twice a year the British monarch offers recognition to the great and good of British society in a series of Honors that are presented, from Knighthoods to OBE's: In January, they are called the New Year's Honors List; and in July, the Queen's Birthday Honors.

Eddie Redmayne
Eddie Redmayne Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

The latest list, announced June 13, sees knighthoods to actor Lenny Henry — who opens next week (on June 23) at Chichester's Minerva Theatre in a new production of Willy Russell's Educating Rita — in recognition of his extensive charity work, as well as an honorary knighthood to Kevin Spacey, outgoing artistic director of the Old Vic, in recognition of his tenure at the London theatre. In a statement, Spacey commented, "I must thank the British public for being so supportive of my efforts on behalf of the Old Vic. I feel like an adopted son."

Other theatre folk honored include Chichester's artistic and executive directors Jonathan Church and Alan Finch respectively, both given CBE's, who are stepping down from those posts at the end of the 2016 season. The theatre is currently riding high with a West End transfer for last year's Chichester production of Gypsy, starring Imelda Staunton, now at the Savoy Theatre; as well as Jonathan Kent — who directed that production of Gypsy — who has been given a CBE as well.

Actors Chiwetel Ejiofor (the Oscar nominated star of "12 Years a Slave," and currently appearing on the London stage in Everyman at the National Theatre) and Benedict Cumberbatch (due to appear in the title role of a new production of Hamlet at the Barbican Theatre in August) are also awarded CBEs, while Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne ("The Theory of Everything"), Michael Ball (opening next month at Chichester in a new production of Mack and Mabel) and Lesley Manville (seen at BAM earlier this year in Ghosts that transferred from the Almeida) are all given OBEs.

Tom Stoppard: The Invention of a Professor and a Quote
In a practice that would be deplored in his original profession as a journalist, playwright Tom Stoppard has admitted that when he wrote a program note for the original 1993 production of Arcadia at the National, he made up the name of a professor and attributed a quote to him in order to back up a point he was trying to make but hadn't found expressed anywhere else yet.

Speaking at the Althorp Literary Festival, he admitted, "It was to do with the distinction between romanticism and classicism. And in the end I couldn’t find a quotation which quite said what I meant,” he said. “So then I made it up and attributed it to a professor whom I also made up. And then I kind of sat back and waited for somebody to [notice], but it hasn’t happened to this day." Tracking down a copy of the program, The Times of London found the quote: "'Romanticism' is an idea which needed a classical mind to have it," which was attributed to JF Shade, cited as living between 1898 and 1959. According to The Times, "A search online reveals only one reference to the quotation, included in a blog post written 20 years later, which exactly cites the paragraph from the Arcadia program."

Alex Sharp Tells the London Times About Being Propositioned — and His Win

The London Times has spoken to Alex Sharp, the British Tony-winning star of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, and found out that he has been propositioned at the stage door by some particularly over-eager theatregoers. As he tells it,"Three young women said: ‘Do you want to come back to the hotel room?’ I said: ‘I’m going back home to my girlfriend [the American actor Wallis Currie-Wood], but thank you very much for the offer. Have a wonderful holiday here in New York.’ Crazy!"

As for the Tony, "It’s been insane, nuts! Bradley Cooper. Bill Nighy. I keep seeing things that honestly make me wince: that I beat them, or they were vanquished by a newcomer. I don't feel like that at all. These men are my heroes. Just to be nominated with them was freaking me out."

Can we expect to see him on the London stage anytime soon? "I will go wherever the work is. If I got a great job in London I would come back. To do the National in England would be cool.'"

The Rumour Mill: Funny Girl heading to London?
The UK's Daily Mail has reported that Sheridan Smith in the midst of 'sensitive' discussions about starring in a new London production of Funny Girl; if it happens, Michael Mayer will direct it at the Menier Chocolate Factory. They met last week to discuss it….

Also rumoured for a possible London outing: Sheila Hancock (London's original Mrs Lovett when Sweeney Todd first transferred to the West End's Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in 1980) and Jenna Russell (Merrily We Roll Along at the Menier and in the West End and Sunday in the Park with George, West End and Broadway) are being tapped for a 2016 London bow of Broadway's Grey Gardens at Southwark Playhouse, where the current Toronto production of Titanic originated and where Grand Hotel is being revived this summer).

Jenna Russell
Jenna Russell

Upcoming Openings
The official opening of the UK premiere production of Stephen Adly Guirgis's 2011 Broadway play The Motherfucker with the Hat takes place at the National's Lyttleton Theatre June 17; the acclaimed stage version of 1984 returns to the Playhouse Theatre, where it has previously played a hit season, to open Thursday June 18; and Bend it Like Beckham, a new musical based on the 2002 hit film of the same name, opens at the Phoenix Theatre June 24, helmed by Gurinder Chadha (who also directed the film) and with music by Howard Goodall (The Hired Man, Love Story) and lyrics by Charles Hart (The Phantom of the Opera).

There's also the UK premiere of the 2002 Broadway musical Amour, being staged for four performances only at the Royal Academy of Music drama school in London from June 23 to 28.

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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