Matthew Warchus’ exciting opening season at the Old Vic continues with starry productions of classic plays, including David Hare’s new version of Ibsen’s The Master Builder with Ralph Fiennes, and Pinter’s The Caretaker with Timothy Spall. Warchus is then collaborating with Tim Minchin once again (after their award-winning production of Matilda the Musical) to produce Groundhog Day the Musical this summer. 2016 also sees the 50th anniversary of Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, and the 20th anniversary of Yasmina Reza’s ‘Art’ being staged in London. Both could be staged by Warchus this year. Warchus has been open that he doesn’t have the star power of Spacey but you wouldn’t think so looking at his plans for the Old Vic. He is producing shorter runs of more productions, and has also secured commercial investment with producers Sonia Friedman and Scott Rudin forming partnerships with the theatre. The Master Builder will be transferring to Broadway in the Autumn and we will be seeing it in February.
The RSC is commemorating the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death in 2016 with some exciting productions. Paapa Essiedu leads the cast as the RSC’s first black Hamlet, seasoned RSC actor Antony Sher gives his King Lear directed by Greg Doran, whilst Simon Russell Beale returns to Stratford to play Prospero in The Tempest. Elsewhere in their season are productions of Cymbeline in the RST, and Doctor Faustus and Don Quixote in the Swan. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is also playing in Stratford-Upon-Avon and on tour with amateur casts playing The Mechanicals.
The Royal Court’s 60th year season kicks off with a cultural event: a new Caryl Churchill play, Escaped Alone. There’s also Alistair McDowall’s new play, X, which is set in space, to look forward to after Pomona was one of the highlight’s of the year. 2013’s Bruntwood prize-winning play Yen, by Anna Jordan, makes its London debut in January and a new play by Charlene James, Cuttin’ It, about FGM, opens at the Young Vic this Spring before playing at the Birmingham Rep and then the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs. At the National, Edinburgh triumphs Iphigenia in Splott and The Life of Sugar Water make their London debuts in the Temporary Theatre. Both of them are also touring. Other highlights at the NT include Pulitzer prize-winning play The Flick by Annie Baker and Katie Mitchell’s production of Sarah Kane’s Cleansed in the Dorfman. In the Lyttleton, there is a contemporary new version of Erdman’s The Suicide and, in the Olivier, Rufus Norris directs Rory Kinnear in Simon Stephens’ new version of Brecht’s The Threepenny Opera.
Elsewhere in London, Florian Zeller’s The Mother opens at the Tricycle Theatre in January followed by his farce The Truth opening at the Menier Chocolate Factory in the Spring. His acclaimed play, The Father, is on tour starring Kenneth Cranham. Early in 2016, former Kneehigh AD Emma Rice is expected announce her first season as Shakespeare’s Globe’s Artistic Director and, in February, Robert Icke (director of Oresteia and Mr Burns) adapts and directs Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya starring Paul Rhys, Jessica Brown Findlay and Vanessa Kirby. There has also been talk of some Shakespeare at the Almeida, with Ralph Fiennes and Andrew Scott. In the West End, Jack Thorne’s Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, parts one and two, opens at the Palace Theatre in the Summer, starring Jamie Parker as Harry. From Broadway, New York hit comedy, Hand to God, opens at the Vaudeville in February (and we have tickets), whilst new Disney mega-musical Aladdin opens at the Prince Edward in the Summer. Meanwhile, new British musical Mrs Henderson Presents transfers from Bath to the Noel Coward Theatre. Furthermore, it is expected that Pinter’s No Man’s Land will be on at some point, starring Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart, and Jamie Lloyd directs Genet’s The Maids at the Trafalgar Studios.
Regionally, Richard Wilson is directing another new Richard Bean play. Titled The Nap, it is about a young snooker champion and it’s playing, no less, at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre. Torben Betts’ Invincible, which premiered at the St James’ Theatre in 2014, is touring. Birmingham Rep, Manchester Royal Exchange and Talawa Theatre are staging King Lear with Don Warrington in the title role. And Bristol Old Vic are celebrating 250 years (the oldest English-language speaking theatre, apparently) with many different productions, one of which being Richard Eyre’s production of O’Neill’s 20th century masterpiece Long Day’s Journey into Night, starring Jeremy Irons and Lesley Manville.