OPENING TONIGHT, Monday 16 February 2004 (previews from 12 February), Steve Waters’ World Music receives its London premiere at the Donmar Warehouse, where it continues to 13 March (See News, 6 Jan 2004). Ray Fearon and Kevin R McNally star in the play, loosely based on the histories of Rwanda and Burundi, which explores the bloody relationship between Africa and Europe.
They’re joined by many of the cast members from Josie Rourke’s original production seen in May 2003 as part of a season of new writing at the Sheffield Crucible. The production marks the first crossover between the Donmar and the Crucible, where Donmar artistic director Michael Grandage also acts as an associate director.
OPENING TUESDAY, 17 February 2004 (previews from 6 February), Gershwin Alone, the one-man Broadway homage to American composer and pianist George Gershwin, has its UK premiere at the West End’s Duchess Theatre (See News, 7 Jan 2004). Written and performed by Hershey Felder, the play with music has Gershwin sat alone at a piano, playing excerpts from classics such as Rhapsody in Blue, An American in Paris and Porgy and Bess and recounting stories about his childhood and his Russian-Jewish immigrant family, including his long-time collaborator, lyricist Ira.
Together, George and Ira Gershwin produced some of the biggest musical hits of the 1920s and 30s; amongst them, Lady Be Good, Funny Face, Strike Up the Band, Girl Crazy and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Of Thee I Sing. George Gershwin died prematurely of a brain tumour in 1937, aged 38.
OPENING THURSDAY, 19 February 2004 (preview 18 February), the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of All's Well That Ends Well, starring Dame Judi Dench, transfers for a limited season at the West End’s Gielgud Theatre (See News, 2 Oct 2003). At Stratford, where it’s just completed a sell-out run at the Swan Theatre, the production marked Dench’s return to the RSC's home ground after an absence of nearly a quarter of a century (See News, 11 Jul 2003).
Directed by Gregory Doran – whose Whatsonstage.com Award-winning productions of The Taming of theShrew and The Tamer Tamed are currently playing next door at the Queen’s Theatre – the cast for the bard’s bittersweet comedy also features Claudie Blakley, Jamie Glover and Guy Henry. The production, presented in the West End by Bill Kenwright and Thelma Holt, continues to 24 April 2004.
OPENING FRIDAY, 20 February 2004 (previews from 10 February), Hollywood’s Luke Perry (Beverly Hills 90210) and Alyson Hannigan (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, American Pie) star in the world premiere stage adaptation of When Harry Met Sally at the West End’s Theatre Royal Haymarket (See News, 1 Dec 2003 & Jan 2004). In Loveday Ingram’s production, they take on the title roles made famous by Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan in the 1989 film about friends who, eventually, become lovers.
Playwright Marcy Kahan has adapted the original Nora Ephron screenplay, design is by Ultz and music is provided care of British jazz musicians Jamie and Ben Cullum. The cast also includes Kevin Collins, Sharon Small, Jake Broder, Elizabeth Jasicki and Richard Teverson.
- by Terri Paddock