Another new year, another feast for London theatre goers. For the lovers of musicals there is no shortage. The old favourites like Les Miserables, The Lion King and Billy Elliot are still around (and may well be for many years more), but newcomers to the block include The Wizard of Oz with Michael Crawford, and Ghost based on the Hollywood film.
The National’s first blockbuster could be a version of Frankenstein, or Twelfth Night directed by Peter Hall to mark his 80th birthday and starring his daughter Rebecca.
As now has become the custom, many of the Off West End theatre productions transfer to the West End, including the well-acclaimed Clybourne Park which arrives at the Wyndhams Theatre via the Royal Court.
The year of Sondheim’s 80th birthday may have passed, but revivals of his excellent work still continue with a production of Company at the rather draughty Southwark Playhouse near London Bridge.
Let’s hope for a nice summer as the Regent’s Park Open Air theatre has in its repertoire The Beggars’ Opera, though for the first time in its history is not putting on a full Shakespeare play; it will be staging a version of Pericles for youngsters though.
The Arcola Theatre in Dalston is about to move to new premises and always puts on exciting productions. Fringe theatre just seems to move from strength to strength. And of course you’re rarely disappointed by anything the Almeida, the Donmar or the Tricycle presents; here’s hoping that the Hampstead Theatre, now under the artistic direction of Peter Hall’s son Edward, manages to find its feet.
Out of London, the big event of the year must be the re-opening after refurbishment of the RSC Theatre and the Swan Theatre in Stratford. The new season runs from April to November.
So there you have it – a smattering of the joys to come in theatreland. Don’t forget the half-price ticket booth at Leicester Square (with another outlet now at Brent Cross) and look for bargains at www.lastminute.com/theatre or www.whatsonstage.com . Keep a sharp eye out for reviews, and if they’re good, don’t tarry before booking. There may be a recession, but now as in previous ones, theatres continue to do well. Everyone needs a bit of culture after all!
Jeanette Nelson, Arts Critic
Jeannette is a bit of a culture vulture who enjoys art exhibitions, cinema and classical music, but her main interest is the theatre. For several years she ran theatre discussion groups for which her MA in Modern Drama together with teaching skills stood her in good stead. She prefers to concentrate on the many off West End and fringe productions as well as that real treasure of the London theatre scene, the National.