Opening: Fix Up for Poppins, Snow White & AladdinDate: 13 December 2004
Amongst the major shows opening in London this week are:
OPENING TUESDAY, 14 December 2004, the Olivier Award-winning C'est Barbican! returns for a second helping at the Barbican Pit, where it continues until 9 January 2005 (See News, 12 Nov 2004). At the adults-only, table-top cabaret show, audience members book a table and then consult the show menu of more than 30 live acts. Duckie, the ‘anti-theatre’ group behind C'est Barbican! won prizes for Best Entertainment at both the Laurence Olivier and Time Out awards for the show, which was also given a special mention for Theatre Event of the Year in Whatsonstage.com’s own Theatregoers’ Choice Awards.
OPENING WEDNESDAY, 15 December 2004 (previews from 6 December), one of the year’s most anticipated theatrical events, and the last of the autumn’s Big Three blockbuster musicals (following The Woman in White and The Producers), Mary Poppins flies into the West End’s Prince Edward Theatre. Cameron Mackintosh and Disney’s £8 million stage adaptation draws on stories from five of PL (Pamela) Travers original books as well as the Oscar-winning 1964 film.
Laura Michelle Kelly plays the eponymous nanny of the title with Gavin Lee as chimneysweep Bert, played respectively by Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke on screen (See News, 14 Jul 2004). The cast also features David Haig, Linzi Hateley and Jenny Galloway. The stage version of Mary Poppins has a book by Julian Fellows and new music and lyrics by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, in addition to many of the Sherman brothers’ songs from the Disney film. The production is co-directed by Richard Eyre and Matthew Bourne, choreographed by Bourne and Stephen Mear and designed by Bob Crowley. It arrives in London following an eight-week tryout at the Bristol Hippodrome.
OPENING THURSDAY, 16 December 2004 (previews from 7 December), at the National Theatre, actor-playwright Kwame Kwei-Armah’s follow-up play to last year’s award-winning Elmina’s Kitchen, Fix Up, receives its world premiere at the NT Cottesloe (See News, 15 Jul 2004). It’s Black History Month, but you wouldn’t know it in Tottenham where Revive PLC plan to turn Kwesi’s All Black African Party hotbed into luxury flats. Directed by Angus Jackson, who also directed Elmina’s Kitchen, Fix Up continues in repertory until 23 March 2005.
OPENING FRIDAY, 17 December, at the Victoria Palace is Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the first Christmas pantomime in the West End in years (and the first of two this year and, indeed, this week). Lily Savage (aka actor Paul O'Grady) plays the dame, a role she first performed at the Birmingham Hippodrome in 1999. Diane Pilkington and Andrew Kennedy also feature in Carole Todd’s production which runs, for 50 performances only, until 23 January 2005 (See News, 23 Jun 2004).
ALSO ON FRIDAY (previews from 11 December), the Young Vic’s acclaimed 2002 fairytale updating of Sleeping Beauty, returns for a limited run to 11 January 2005 at the Barbican Theatre (See News, 12 Nov 2004). Co-produced with the Barbican as part of the Young Vic’s Walkabout season during the two-year refurbishment of the latter’s South Bank base, this is a dark retelling based on Charles Perrault’s classic 17th-century fairytale, which takes the story from when Beauty wakes from the kiss. It’s written and directed by Rufus Norris (Festen) and stars Lyndsey Marshal.
OPENING SUNDAY, 19 December 2004 (previews from 17 December), the second of the year/week’s pantomimes in the West End, sees Ian McKellen making his panto debut as the dame, Widow Twankey, in a new version of Aladdin at the Old Vic. It also sees him retreading the boards at the Old Vic stage for the first time since Much Ado About Nothing in 1965. Joining McKellen in the high-profile cast are Roger Allam, Maureen Lipman, Sam Kelly and Joe McFadden. Directed by Sean Mathias and designed by John Napier, Aladdin also features a new song written especially for the show by Old Vic trustee Elton John.
- by Terri Paddock