London Theatre News - January 2018

The Birthday Party: "A superlative revival"

Ian Rickson's revival of Harold Pinter's The Birthday Party opened at London's Harold Pinter Theatre on Thursday 18 January 2018.
Stanley lodges in the seaside boarding house owned by Meg and Petey Boles. One day his peaceful existance is threatened by the arrival of mysterious strangers Goldberg and McCann who organise a birthday party - except Stanley insists it is not his birthday...
The cast features Toby Jones as 'Stanley', Zoë Wanamaker and Peter Wight as 'Meg' and 'Petey', Stephen Mangan and Tom Vaughan-Lawlor 'Goldberg' and 'McCann' with Pearl Mackie as 'Lulu'.
When this production opened Michael Billington in the Guardian praised how "Ian Rickson’s starry production... does rich justice to this strange, elusive play, and it is packed with illuminating detail," while Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph highlighted that "the beauty of Ian Rickson's superlative revival is that it powerfully makes the case for the play's since-gilded status and confirms afresh that it's a darkly comic masterpiece without trying overtly to spruce it up for today's audiences."
The Birthday Party continues at the Harold Pinter Theatre in London up to Saturday 14 April 2018.

Moliere's Tartuffe - updated by Christopher Hampton - opens 29 May 2018

It has been announced that Moliere's classic comedy Tartuffe - in a newly updated, and dual-language, version by Christopher Hampton - will open at London's Haymarket Theatre on Tuesday 29 July 218, following public previews from 25 May.
Originally written by Moliere in 1664, Christopher Hampton has updated the comedy and set it in modern day Hollywood.
L.A. Present day. French media tycoon Orgon has re-located to Tinseltown with his family, his heart set on becoming Hollywood royalty. With a new studio to his name, and a palatial Beverly Hills mansion, his empire seems infallible. But all is not as it seems as Orgon falls under the seductive spell of Tartuffe, a radical American evangelist. So comprehensively has Tartuffe hoodwinked Orgon that he looks set to steal his fortune, drive away his son, seduce his wife and marry his daughter.
This will be a 'dual-language' production, performed in both English and French, with surtitles throughout the performance.
Tartuffe is scheduled to play a nine-week season up to Saturday 28 July 2018.

Tony Award-Winning 'Best Revival' - The King and I - doubles London season

It has been announced that Bartlett Sher's acclaimed New York Lincoln Center Theater's revival of the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The King and I, which was originally scheduled to play a limited five week West End season, has now had the season doubled to ten weeks.
The production, which opens at the London Palladium on Tuesday 3 July 2018, following public previews from Thursday 21 June, will now play up to Saturday 8 September 2018.
Set in 1860s Bangkok, the musical tells the story of the unconventional and tempestuous relationship that develops between the King of Siam and Anna, a British schoolteacher whom the modernist King, in an imperialistic world, brings to Siam to teach his many wives and children.
This production won four Tony Awards when it was seen on Broadway, including for Best Revival of a Musical; Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical for Kelli O'Hara; Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical for Ruthie Ann Miles; and Best Costume Design of a Musical for Catherine Zuber.
The cast in London will star Kelli O'Hara as 'Anna Leonowens' and Tony and Oscar nominee Ken Watanabe as the 'King of Siam' along with Ruthie Ann Miles as 'Lady Thiang' - who are both reprising their starring roles from the New York Broadway production.
The King and I is scheduled to play a limited ten week season at the London Palladium up to Saturday 8 September 2018.

"Enormously enjoyable" Everybody's Talking About Jamie extends five months

Jonathan Butterell production of Dan Gillespie Sells and Tom MacRae's new musical Everybody's Talking About Jamie, which was expected to play a limited five month season at the Apollo Theatre up to 21 April 2018 - has now been extended by five months, up to Saturday 6 October 2018.
Jamie New is sixteen. He’s from Sheffield. And he has a secret. He doesn’t quite fit in at school. His Dad’s left home. He’s about to sit his GCSEs. The future is terrifying. But Jamie is going to be a sensation. Jamie want to be a drag queen...
When this production opened in London Neil Norman in the Daily Express praised this "enormously enjoyable show with a serious social riptide," adding that "the dialogue is sharp, waspish and funny and Jonathan Butterell's direction is polished without being too shiny. A palpable hit." Ann Treneman in the Times exclaimed that "this fizzing musical is a blast of fresh air... John McCrea lights up the stage as Jamie, gawky, vulnerable and magnetic... It's the real deal, this one. Everyone really should be talking, singing, shouting about Jamie now."
Everybody's Talking About Jamie continues to play at London Apollo Theatre up to Saturday 6 October 2018.

"Deliciously strange" The Grinning Man extends two months to 14 April 2018

Tom Morris' production of the new musical The Grinning Man, which was initially expected to run in London for two months, has now had it's run doubled, and will now run up to Saturday 14 April 2018.
Following a run in Bristol last year, The Grinning Man opened in London's West End at the Trafalgar Studios on Monday 18 December 2018 when Claire Allfree in the Daily Telegraph praised "the show’s magnificent gothic theatricality," Dominic Maxwell in the Times hailed as being a "stunning new British musical," that "demands to be seen as its own deliciously strange thing," and Paul Taylor in the i newspaper explained that "Tom Morris's production unfolds like a fevered and luridly compelling fairy story." Based on Victor Hugo's 1869 novel The Laughing Man, the musical is about a travelling sideshow freak whose face has been carved with a permanent smile.
The Grinning Man is currently booking up to Saturday 14 April 2018 at London's Trafalgar Studio 1.