London theatre: 2019 highlights

The early poster for the new London production of the Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice classic.

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BY BILLY SUTER

IF YOU are a fan of Andrew Lloyd Webber and/or Tim Rice musicals and happen to be in London next year, you have four big treats to look forward to.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, the first major musical collaboration between Rice and Lloyd Webber, will be “reimagined” for a new production at the London Palladium in mid-2019, according to Playbill.

Also, Lloyd Webber’s Aspects of Love is being revived for a season from January 7 at The Southwark Playhouse, while Jesus Christ Superstar is in line for a season at The Barbican from July 4. The cherry on top is that the grand Evita is scheduled for the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre from August 2.

Meanwhile, the Southwark Playhouse is currently running a production of Seussical – the delightful musical in which the fantastical world of Dr Seuss bursts onto the stage in a larger-than-life musical extravaganza.

Also now on stage in London, at the Vaudeville Theatre, is a production of Sam Shepard’s True West, starring Game of Thrones heart-throb Kit Harrington alongside Johnnn Flynn. They portray two warring brothers in the scorching Californian desert in what has been labelled as a ferociously funny modern classic. Olivier Award-nominated Matthew Dunster directs.

Sure to delight dance fans is that tomorrow (December 4) marks the first performance, at the Sadler’s Wells Theatre, of a revival of the 1995 sensation, Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake, set to music by Tchaikovsky and starring Nicole Alphonce, Jonathan Luke Baker, Matthew Ball, Alistair Beattie and Will Bozier,

A poster image for Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake.

This Swan Lake retains iconic elements of the original ballet, but Bourne and award-winning designers Lez Brotherston (set and costumes) and Paul Constable (lighting) create an exciting and audacious re-imagining of the classic production.

If you were hoping to catch the Trevor Nunn-directed Fiddler on the Roof at the cosy, 180-seater Menier Chocolate Factory in London’s West End, you are too late – the show, which opened on November 23, is sold out until closing date, March 9, next year.

You could, if in London in the next few weeks, consider seeing the lavish annual pantomime at The Palladium, This year it is Snow White, with a cast including the delicious Dawn French, Julian Clary, Nigel Havers and Charlie Stemp.

The first preview of the high-gloss production, directed by Michael Harrison, is on December 8, with the official opening set for December 12.

Over at London’s Old Vic, from December 5, theatre fans can catch A Christmas Carol, directed by Matthew Warchus and teaming, among others, Stephen Tompkinson, Rosanna Bates, Ava Brennan, Jamie Cameron, Peter Caulfield, Oliver Evans, Nicola Hughes, Eugene McCoy and Myra McFadyen.

Looking ahead again… 9 to 5 The Musical, based on the hit movie comedy, will run at London’s Savoy Theatre from January 28, for a strictly limited season. Featuring words and music by Dolly Parton, the show stars Louise Redknapp and Amber Davies.

Come February 2, All About Eve will run at London’s Noel Coward Theatre, starring The X-Files’ Gillian Anderson, Mamma Mia Here We Go Again’s Lily James, Julian Ovenden, Monica Dolan, Sheila Reid and Rhashan Stone.

Directed by Ivo van Hove, who has adapted Joseph Mankiewicz’s screenplay for the stage, the work is described as a razor-sharp, unsettling exposé of the eternal obsession at the heart of showbusiness.

Come From Away, directed by Christopher Ashley, is scheduled to run at The Phoenix Theatre in London from January 30. Directed by Christopher Ashley, it stars Rachel Tucker, Jenna Boyd, Nathanael Campbell, Clive Carter, Mary Doherty, Robert Hands, Helen Hobson, Jonathan Andrew Hume, Harry Morrison, Emma Salvo, David Shannon, Cat Simmons

This Broadway musical by Irene Sankoff and David Hein is based on the events in the week following the 9/11 attacks on America, when 38 planes were ordered to land in the small Canadian town of Gardner. This true story tells the tale of the town who kept 7 000 stranded visitors housed and fed following the biggest tragedy the US had seen.

Other good news is that the Broadway hit musical Waitress, featuring music and lyrics by Sara Bareilles, opens at London’s Adelphi Theatre on February 8 with former American Idol contestant and a star of TV’s Smash, Katherine McPhee, in the lead role.

The magical nanny is returning to the London stage in 2019.

She plays Jenna, a waitress and expert pie maker, who is stuck in a small town and a loveless marriage. When a baking contest in a nearby county offers her a chance at escape, Jenna must weigh her commitments against a rare shot at freedom and recognition.

Her customers, co-workers, and the town’s handsome new doctor all offer her conflicting recipes for happiness, but Jenna must ultimately decide for herself.

Good news for fans of the old British TV series, Only Fools and Horses, is that Only Fools and Horses the Musical is scheduled for Theatre Royal Haymarket from February 9.

The world may have changed a lot since we first bid a jovial ‘au revoir’ to the Trotters of Peckham, but the boys of Only Fools And Horses The Musical haven’t changed a bit in a show directed by Caroline Jay Ranger.

The new musical has a cast including Paul Whitehouse, Tom Bennett, Ryan Hutton, Dianne Pilington, Pippa Diffy, Jeff Nicholson and Samantha Seager.

It is also worth noting that Stephen Sondheim’s celebrated Follies is returning for a short season to London’s Olivier Theatre at the National Theatre from February 14.

Directed by Dominic Cooke, it teams Janie Dee, Peter Forbes, Joanna Riding, Alexander Hanson, Tracie Bennett, Julie Armstrong, Josephine Barstow, Rosanna Bates and Billy Boyle, among others.

The winner of the Olivier Award for Best Musical Revival is set in New York in 1971. There’s a party on the stage of the Weismann Theatre. Tomorrow the iconic building will be demolished. Thirty years after their final performance, the Follies girls gather to have a few drinks, sing a few songs and lie about themselves.

Also returning to the London stage in 2019 is Mary Poppins, which runs at the Prince Edward Theatre later in 2019. Co-directed by Richard Eyre and  Matthew Bourne, the show will star Zizi Strallen and Charlie Stemp.

The acclaimed Equus is another must-see returning to London – running at the Theatre Royal Stratford East from February 15.

Award-winning director Ned Bennett brings Peter Shaffer’s psychological thriller to the stage in a bold new production centred on teenager Alan Strang’s pathological fascination leading him to blind six horses.

It is then up to psychiatrist Dr Martin Dysart to uncover the motive behind the boy’s violent act.

Oscar-winner Sally Field, Bill Pullman, Jenna Coleman and Colin Morgan pool talents in Arthur Miller’s All My Sons, which previews at The Old Vic from April 15.

Directed by Jeremy Herrin, it is set in 1947 America where, in spite of hard choices and even harder knocks, Joe and Kate Keller are a success story. They have built a home, raised two sons and established a thriving business.

But nothing lasts forever and their contented lives, already shadowed by the loss of their eldest boy to war, are about to shatter.

The poster for the musical Dear Evan Hansen

Kelsey Grammer of TV’s Frasier is heading the cast of Man of La Mancha, which is scheduled to run at the London Coliseum from April 26. It is directed by Lonny Price.

Also starring Danielle de Niese, Man of La Mancha is inspired by Miguel de Cervantes’s masterpiece, Don Quixote, and chivalry abounds in this classic tale of knighthood, love, loyalty and adventure.

The London Coliseum is also the venue for On Your Feet!, which, directed by Jerry Mitchell, runs from June 14. Gloria and Emilio Estefan’s hit Broadway musical telling the inspiring true love story of Emilio and Gloria, charting their journey from origins in Cuba, onto the streets of Miami and finally to international superstardom.

Finally, exciting news is that the acclaimed Broadway musical, Dear Evan Hansen, by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, the young men who created the music for The Greatest Showman, is scheduled for a London season later in 2019 at the Noel Coward Theatre. No casting details have been announced.

The musical is about a teenage boy who suffers from social anxiety, and finds it difficult to talk to people and make friends. However, following a tragic event involving one of his classmates, he finds himself drawn closer a group of people for the first time in his life


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