The Cripple of Inishmaan, Barnum, Sweet Bird of Youth, A Chorus Line, Relatively Speaking, Strange Interlude and Titanic all closed this weekend thus making room for new productions to open and therefore raise the curtain (apologies) on an Autumn of exciting London theatre. Here are just some of the highlights:
Tonight not only marks a cast change for the National’s hit The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at the Apollo but also a busy Autumn for the National as it celebrates its 50th anniversary. The occasion will be marked with an evening of special performances from the past 50 years involving Judi Dench, Simon Russell Beale, Rory Kinnear and many other guests as well as being broadcast live on 2nd November on BBC 2. NT Live will help celebrate the anniversary with encore screenings of Hamlet, The Habit of Art and Frankenstein. The Autumn highlights from the Southbank include Marlowe’s Edward II and Tori Amos’ new musical The Light Princess and I imagine that Nicholas Hytner’s successor as Artistic Director will also be chosen in the coming months.
The Michael Grandage Season moves onto its final two productions with Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Sheridan Smith as Titania and David Walliams as Bottom followed by Jude Law playing the title role in Henry V. The other highly-anticipated Shakespeare productions of the Autumn come from David Tennant’s Richard II (dir. Gregory Doran) at the RSC and their former home of The Barbican and Mark Rylance’s production of Much Ado About Nothing at the Old Vic starring older-than-usual Benedick and Beatrice James Earl Jones and Vanessa Redgrave.
Back to the West End and after all of the hype, it will finally be time to #MeetThePackers with Clive Exton’s new comedy Barking in Essex with Lee Evans, Sheila Hancock, Keeley Hawes and Karl Johnson at the Whyndam’s. From the end of October, Hawes’ husband Matthew Macfadyen joins Stephen Mangan in a new Jeeves and Wooster play Perfect Nonsense at the Duke of York’s and a star-studded revival of Jez Butterworth’s Mojo at the Harold Pinter Theatre. Perhaps a nice surprise is that three new musicals open in the West End this Autumn with the highly-anticipated Jamie Lloyd production of Roddy Doyle’s The Commitments opening at the Palace, the surprisingly low-key new Tim Rice musical From Here to Eternity at the Shaftesbury and the new Andrew Lloyd-Webber musical about the Profumo Affair Stephen Ward the Musical at the Aldwych.
The Menier Chocolate Factory have today announced that their Christmas musical will be Leonard Bernstein’s Candide (Or Optimism) based on the novel by Voltaire but there are still some other theatres to announce productions before the end of the year. Namely, the Old Vic has yet to announce their Christmas show and the Trafalgar Transformed season still has to announce their fourth production.
According to the ATG website, The Ladykillers has extended through Christmas and it is looking likely that Reginald Roses’ Twelve Angry Men will transfer from the Birmingham Rep to the Garrick Theatre starring Martin Shaw and Robert Vaughn. After the anticipated transfer of Barnum from Chichester fell through, the Gielgud lies empty apart from a rumour of Strangers on a Train, but speaking of Chichester, their successful production The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui opens at the Duchess this month.
Vicky Featherstone continues her first season at the Royal Court by presenting John Tiffany’s visually exciting and disturbing production of Let the Right One In. Based on a Swedish coming-of-age novel and first produced at the National Theatre of Scotland earlier this year, there is promise for this production to have a longer run. In December, Tom Hiddleston plays the title role in Shakespeare’s Coriolanus at the Donmar Warehouse which will be screened as part of NT Live next year and the Royal Opera House have their first West End transfer with The Wind in the Willows at the Duchess.
London theatre is nearly always exciting but the coming months promise something for everyone.