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Welcoming 1984 And Saying Goodbye To I Can’t Sing #WestEndWeek

By Andrew Tomlins

Another week of hellos and goodbyes lies ahead in theatreland.

Welcoming 1984 And Saying Goodbye To I Can’t Sing #WestEndWeek

1984 officially opens on Thursday (8th May 2014) at the Playhouse Theatre following just over a week of previews. The play is the latest show to transfer into the West End from the Almeida Theatre where it enjoyed a hugely successful run.

The Almeida continues to go from strength to strength with the majority of its productions receiving critical acclaim and West End transfers. Last month the theatre triumphed at the Olivier Awards where two of its productions, Chimerica and Ghosts (both of which transferred to the West End), received multiple awards.

Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan's production of 1984 runs at the Playhouse for a limited season until 19th July 2014. The play, which has also toured the UK, is a co-production between Headlong, the Almeida Theatre and the Nottingham Playhouse. It is based on George Orwell's dystopian novel.

Bakersfield Mist begins previews at the Duchess Theatre on Saturday (10th May 2014) ahead of its official opening on 27th May 2014. The European premiere of Stephen Sachs’s comedy-drama stars Kathleen Turner and Ian McDiarmid.

Inspired by true events, Sachs’ new play is said to “ask vital questions about what makes art and people truly authentic”. It marks Kathleen Turner return to the West End for the first time since her appearance in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. Polly Teale directs the production which runs until 30th August 2014.

Bakersfield Mist’s producer, Nica Burns, is particularly excited about the production. “When we were lucky enough to hear Kathleen Turner and Ian McDiarmid read the play for us, the chemistry between these two great stage actors was thrilling” she said. “It has been eight years since Kathleen stunned London audiences with her extraordinary award winning performance in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. This is a fantastic role for her return to the London stage.”

The sensationally talented Anna-Jane Casey plays her final performance in Billy Elliot at the Victoria Palace Theatre on Saturday. If you haven’t yet seen Casey star as Mrs Wilkinson you must try your hardest to catch her this week! She has had the most incredible career, having starred in countless shows including Cats, Grease, Starlight Express, West Side Story, Chicago and Spamalot. West End legend Ruthie Henshall takes over next week.

With Finian's Rainbow closing at the Charing Cross Theatre on Saturday, the cast of Ushers are in rehearsals this week ahead of the musicals re-opening as the Charing Cross Theatre’s main show (it was previously the late-night production). Performances recommence on Tuesday 13th May for a limited season until to Saturday 7th June.

Jacob Chapman is joining the cast as villainous theatre manager Robin Pocketts. Chapman previously played the rebel leader in We Will Rock You and understudied Jean Valjean in Les Miserables. Daniel Buckley, Ceris Hine, Ross McNeill, Liam Ross-Mills and Carly Thoms are all reprising their roles.

Also in rehearsals this week is Stephen Daldry’s production of David Hare’s Skylight. Rehearsals begin today (Tuesday 6th May 2014) for the major West End revival of Hare’s Olivier award-winning play. Performances begin at the Wyndham’s Theatre on 6th June 2014. 

The cast of Skylight features Matthew Beard as Edward Sergeant, Carey Mulligan as Kyra Hollis and Bill Nighy as Tom Sergeant. Skylight premiered at the National Theatre in 1995 before transferring to the Wyndham’s Theatre and then Broadway. It also returned to the West End  in June 1997.

Finally, this week is your last chance to catch X Factor musical I Can’t Sing at the London Palladium. Supported by Simon Cowell and written by Harry Hill and Steve Brown, I Can’t Sing closes just six weeks after its official opening. The musical may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but it’s certainly worth seeing so you can make your mind up for yourself.

An official announcement it yet to be made about the Palladium’s future, but it is widely believed the theatre will return to its roots and host music and comedy events over the coming months.

By Andrew Tomlins

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