This week is one of the most important weeks in theatreland as the 2014 Olivier Awards take place at the Royal Opera House on Sunday (13th April 2014). For the second year running ITV are broadcasting a highlights package after the ceremony takes place.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Theatre Royal, Drury Lane) is nominated for an impressive seven awards while Once (Phoenix Theatre), The Book of Mormon (Prince of Wales Theatre) and The Scottsboro Boys (rumoured to be transferring to the Garrick Theatre later this year) are nominated for six awards each.
Every year the BBC Radio 2 Audience Award, which is the only Olivier Award voted for by the public, is one of the most highly anticipated awards. Following Billy Elliot’s triumph last year, Matilda, Les Misérables, The Phantom of the Opera and Wicked have been shortlisted. The casts of all four shows will perform live in Covent Garden on the ITV stage prior to the ceremony. Theatre-lovers are invited to gather from 17.00 to watch the free event, hosted by Myleene Klass and Michael Xavier (who is currently preparing to star in the Pyjama Game at the Shaftesbury Theatre).
Tonight (Monday 7th April 2014) sees the official re-opening of the Apollo Theatre as press night is held for Let The Right One In which has been previewing at the newly refurbished theatre for just under two weeks. Based on the Swedish novel and cult hit film by John Ajvide Lindqvist, John Tiffany’s production of Let The Right One In marks the National Theatre of Scotland’s West End debut and follows the show’s sell out success at the Royal Court Theatre. It is described as a "chilling tale of loneliness, love and legend".
Also tonight comedy stars Mark Heap and Robert Webb take over from Stephen Mangan and Matthew Macfadyen in the West End production of Jeeves and Wooster in Perfect Nonsense at the Duke Of York's Theatre. Mark Hadfield continues as Seppings. When it opened last November, Perfect Nonsense was scheduled for a limited run, but extended and announced plans for a UK Tour due to huge demand.
Known for starring as Jeremy in Peep Show alongside his long-time collaborator David Mitchell, Robert Webb is a regular face on British comedy panel shows. Mitchell and Webb wrote and starred in The Mitchell and Webb Situation and That Mitchell and Webb Look which won the BAFTA for best comedy in 2007. He made his West End stage debut in the UK premiere of Fat Pig by Neil LaBute at Trafalgar Studios. Mark Heap has starred in various television comedies including Spaced, Green Wing and Friday Night Dinner. He has also appeared in Miranda, Skins and Outnumbered.
Good People begins previews at the Noel Coward Theatre on Thursday (10th April 2014) ahead of its official opening next Tuesday (15th April 2014). Jonathan Kent's production, about whether you can ever truly leave the place where you were born, made its UK premiere at Hampstead Theatre in March to great critical acclaim.
The West End transfer was very last minute, acting as a filler between The Full Monty and Shakespeare In Love. Discussing the transfer, the Hampstead Theatre’s Artistic Director, Edward Hall, said “it’s a truly brilliant play beautifully directed, and the cast are astonishingly good in it. It’s especially pleasing that so many people who would otherwise have been disappointed will now have a chance to catch it.”
Handbagged officially opens at the Vaudeville Theatre on Thursday (10th April 2014). The show transfers to the West End from the Tricycle Theatre. Cast member Jeff Rawle recently told me that he didn’t need any persuading to reprise his performance. Discussing the play’s huge success he said, “it’s very funny, it’s very accessible, it is political but it’s unclear as to which side it sits which makes you think.”
The West End production of Spamalot closes on Saturday (12th April 2014), concluding a seventeen month run at the Playhouse Theatre. The cast features Jodie Prenger as The Lady of the Lake. If you haven’t seen Spamalot you must try and see it during its final week, it is hysterically funny and has tremendous wide appeal. Spamalot will be missed!
By Andrew Tomlins