The weather’s getting warmer. The evenings are getting lighter. So get yourself out of the house and see some of the amazing shows coming to somewhere near you!
Opening off-West End
One of last year’s best discoveries was THE PHLEBOTOMIST, Ella Road’s award-nominated debut play, which totally sold out its season at the Hampstead Theatre Downstairs. Set in a tantalisingly near future, the drama revolves around how each individual’s potential future life is completely predetermined….by the score from one single blood test. The audience I was with absolutely hugged this play from start to finish.
Now, the play returns, this time moving to Hampstead’s larger Main House (one of the few plays to have made that leap). Repeating her accomplished performance from last year, Jade Anouka plays the title role. It will be interesting to see how it makes the transition to the larger Main House after the intimacy of the smaller Downstairs studio, however the strength of the writing means that I have already rebooked. Highly recommended! Playing 19 March to 20 April.
LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE was a wildly successful 2006 road movie , and now a musical version originating from Off-Broadway gets its European premiere at the Arcola, where it runs from 21 March to 11 May. A very strong cast includes Olivier-nominated Laura Pitt-Pulford, twice Olivier-nominated Paul Keating and TMA nominated Gary Wilmot. This show is the first major collaboration between the Arcola and Selladoor productions, the prolific global entertainment producers. After London’s run, you can catch it on an extensive UK tour from May until November.
Touring the UK extensively from March to July after opening in Wimbledon at the end of March, the hit tribal rock musical HAIR returns in the much – acclaimed 50th anniversary production. Cast includes the ever-watchable Marcus Collins (TV’s X-Factor, Hairspray), Jake Quickenden (Dancing on Ice) and a relative newcomer with a fantastic voice, Kelly Sweeney (watch out for her!).
Touring the UK
It’s OK to not be OK. That’s the message of A SUPER HAPPY STORY (ABOUT FEELING SUPER SAD) a very funny, helpfully honest and insightful cabaret musical about depression. Sally’s a happy person. She doesn’t let little things get her down and almost never cries. But she’s got an illness. It makes her feel like she isn’t the person she wants to be, but she doesn’t want anyone to know about it. Written by Olivier Award winner Jon Brittain (Rotterdam and Margaret Thatcher Queen of Soho) with music by Matthew Floyd Jones (Frisky & Mannish). It’s a joyful, buoyant, gleeful, slightly silly, sugar-coated, unrelenting and completely super happy show! Except for the bits about depression. “A Super Happy Story is Superb” said The Guardian’s Lyn Gardner.. and she was right! I am so glad that I went and I think you will be too. Touring UK-wide through to June. In March you can see it at Milton Keynes, Newbury, New Milton, Eastleigh, Oxford, Gillingham, Diss, Banbury, Slough, Salisbury and Bristol
good dog – set during the early noughties – tells the story of growing up in a multi-cultural community, and the everyday injustices that drive people to take back control.
Mum’s promised him that bike so even when school or homelife bites, he knows to keep his chin up, his head down and his shirt clean. No harsh word, no sudden push to the ground will distract him from growing up to be a good man. Because in the end, everyone who’s good gets what they deserve. Don’t they?
Delicately observed and fearlessly told by writer Arinzé Kene (Misty at Bush Theatre and Trafalgar Studios), good dog completes its second national tour after four-star reviews in 2017, now starring the very impressive emerging actor Kwaku Mills (The End Of Eddy, Unicorn Theatre 2018). In March you can see it at Birmingham, Oxford, Tonbridge, Salisbury and ending the tour in London
Here’s one not to be missed for any of you who love great writing and great acting. The prestigious annual Papatango playwriting competition winners are always worth seeing. This year’s Prize winner, THE FUNERAL DIRECTOR by Iman Qureshi, is a compassionate, incisive and heartfelt play about gender, religion and sexuality in 21st century Britain.
Life as the director of a Muslim funeral parlour isn’t always easy, but Ayesha has things pretty sorted. She and Zeyd share everything: a marriage, a business, a future. Until Tom walks in to organise his boyfriend’s funeral. A snap moral decision, informed by the values of Ayesha’s community and faith, has profound consequences. Forced to confront a secret she has hidden even from herself, Ayesha must decide who she is – no matter the cost. Brilliant actress Aryana Ramkhalawon returns to play Ayesha giving a riveting and taut performance in this well-written show which tackles difficult issues with care and humanity. These four cities are fortunate to welcome this special play; do please go if you can.
Stephen Sondheim’s lovingly-crafted, bittersweet musical FOLLIES returns to the National Theatre after a sold-out run last year (and winning Best Musical Revival at the Olivier Awards). On the eve of demolition of Weissman’s Theatre, past performers gather to drink, dream and reminisce….and somehow, try to make sense of it all. New cast members this season are all top-notch: Joanna Riding (The Pajama Game, Flowers for Mrs Harris), Alexander Hanson (A Little Night Music) and Claire Moore (Phantom of the Opera). Returning cast include the phenomenal Tracie Bennett, assured Janie Dee and (from mid-April) the spine-tingling operatic septugenarian Josephine Barstow, with perfectly-drilled choreography once again courtesy of Olivier-Award-winning Bill Deamer. In an ongoing repertory season to May 11th.
NT Live Broadcasts
I’m Not Running, David Hare’s gripping political drama,encores on various dates around the UK, with a large cluster around Tuesday March 5th. Check your local arts centre/ cinemas for details or go to the ntlive website
Off-West End shows closing
Until 16 March at the Lyric Hammersmith. Wherever company 1927 appear, you can expect dazzling visual artistry and inspired invention, something akin to a graphic novel burst into theatrical life. Their most recent show, Golem, has now been touring the world for the last four years and has delighted audiences in astonishment at their technical and artistic imagination. Now there is another chance to see 1927’s previous show entitled THE ANIMALS AND CHILDREN TOOK TO THE STREETS! In the Bayou, a part of the city feared and loathed, stands infamous Bayou Mansions; a sprawling stinking tenement block, where curtain-twitchers and peeping-toms live side by side… and the wolf is always at the door. When Agnes Eaves and her daughter arrive late one night, does it signal hope in this hopeless place, or has the real horror only just begun? Seamlessly synchronising live music, intricate performance and storytelling with stunning film and animation, this is a show to savour.
Until 16 March at the Park Theatre, Robert Fox and Alex Turner present Martin (BENT) Sherman’s acclaimed new play GENTLY DOWN THE STREAM, to celebrate his 80th year, with a cast that includes Jonathan Hyde (The King’s Speech) and directed by Sean Mathias. Concerning an unexpected age gap relationship, the play explores the differences between generations of gay men and their life experiences and asks whether generation gap affairs can sustain.
West End shows Opening
The Twilight Zone – Return of the hit show from the Almeida. Ambassadors Theatre from 4 March
Betrayal – Tom Hiddleston stars. Harold Pinter Theatre from 5 March
A Hundred Words For Snow – An intriguing-sounding coming of age story. With Polar Bears. Trafalgar Studios 2 from 5 March
Emilia! – Transfer of the Globe’s celebration of women’s voices across generations. Vaudeville Theatre from 8 March
Fiddler On The Roof – Transfer of the Menier Chocolate Factory’s well-reviewed musical revival sets up at the Playhouse Theatre from 21 March
London shows closing
Closing March 9th – Adrian Lester in Pulitzer winning Cost of Living at Hampstead Theatre
‘Tartuffe put in a blender to lumpy effect'(my review in a nutshell), Keith? at Arcola Theatre
Closing March 16th– Trevor Nunn-directed rediscovery of an unperformed Harley Granville-Barker play from 1913 about a female artist , Agnes Colander, at Jermyn Street Theatre
Closing March 23rd– The Trick, a show fusing magic and grief directed by Roy Alexander Wiese at the Bush Theatre
Closing March 30th – Berberian Sound Studio, grisly film effects thriller, at the Donmar Warehouse
Company, Stephen Sondheim’s gender-reassigned musical classic, at the Gielgud
Shipwreck, a sinister play about America and Trump, at the Almeida
Alys, Always the psychological thriller exploring entitlement, at the Bridge Theatre