A busy week lies ahead in theatreland, with four big shows beginning previews!
Firstly 1984 begins previews tonight (Monday 28th April 2014) at the Playhouse Theatre. The play transfers to the West End fresh from a sell-out run at the Almeida Theatre, following in the footsteps of Ghosts and Chimerica.
Duncan Macmillan's production runs for a limited twelve-week season, officially opening on 8th May. Based on George Orwell's dystopian novel by the same name, 1984 is a co-production between Headlong, the Almeida and the Nottingham Playhouse.
On Thursday (1st May 2014) the RSC’s Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies begins previews at the Aldwych Theatre. Hilary Mantel's popular books have been adapted for the first time for the stage in two parts by Mike Poulton.
Directed by Jeremy Herrin, the productions received critical acclaim and had a successful run at the Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon. These plays tell the compelling story of the political rise to power of Thomas Cromwell from blacksmith's boy to Henry VIII's right hand man.
Herrin said: "I'm delighted to be working with this great ensemble to deliver these entertaining adaptations of Hilary's phenomenal novels to a new audience in a new space. The Aldwych is a theatre that I've always wanted to work in so it's a privilege to be able to do so with such exhilarating material. I can't wait to show London how thrilling and current the story of Thomas Cromwell is."
As if two West End transfers weren’t enough, a third opens on Friday (2nd May 2014) with Chichester’s production of The Pajama Game beginning previews at the Shaftesbury Theatre. There was so much excitement surrounding Richard Eyre’s production during its run last year at Chichester, so it’s great to finally see it come to the West End.
The Pajama Game stars Joanna Riding (Stephen Ward), Peter Polycarpou (Sweeney Todd) and Colin Stinton (Guys and Dolls) reprising their roles alongside West End regular Michael Xavier who joins the cast fresh from playing Captain von Trapp in the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre’s production of The Sound of Music.
The final show to begin previews this week is the long awaited West End revival of Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil’s classic musical Miss Saigon. The show plays its first preview at the Prince Edward Theatre on Saturday (3rd May 2014). Set in 1975 during the final days of the American occupation of Saigon, Miss Saigon is an epic love story about the relationship between an American GI and a young Vietnamese woman.
Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil recently wrote a powerful new song called 'Maybe' for the role of Ellen to sing in the second act. The song was included in the recent Dutch and Japanese productions, but London audiences will be the first to hear the song performed in English. Miss Saigon has already proved a box office sensation and, with a promising cast, is almost guaranteed to please audiences and critics alike.
Also this week, I Found My Horn at Trafalgar Studios 2 and Moscow’s Mossovet State Academic Theatre’s productions of Uncle Vanya and Three Sisters at the Wyndham's Theatre play their final performances on Saturday.
The X Factor Musical, I Can't Sing! enters its final two weeks at the London Palladium. The cast were given their two week notice over the weekend, with the final performance set for Saturday 10th May. The show may not be for everyone, but it’s certainly a great shame to see it close just six weeks after officially opening.
Photo credit: Roy Beusker
By Andrew Tomlins