Amongst the major London openings taking place this week are:

OPENING TUESDAY, 30 March 2004 (preview 29 March), Richard Dormer’s Hurricane, based on the life of snooker’s Alex ‘Hurricane’ Higgins, transfers to the West End’s Arts Theatre for a limited six-week season (See News, 8 Mar 2004), following a regional tour and run at London’s Soho Theatre as well as last year’s award-winning success at the Edinburgh Festival.

The "people's champion", Higgins left school at 15, won the Northern Ireland and All Ireland Snooker Championships at 17, turned professional at 20 and, in 1972, aged just 23, became the youngest person ever to win the world championship. Hurricane, written and performed by Dormer, traces the highs and lows of the legendary sportsman.


OPENING WEDNESDAY, 31 March 2004 (previews from 20 February) at the Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Downstairs, X FilesGillian Anderson (pictured) – who won last year’s Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers’ Choice Best Actress Award for her West End debut in What the Night Is For - stars in the world premiere of The Sweetest Swing in Baseball (See News, 16 Jan 2004).

Written by Rebecca Gilman (The Glory of Living, Spinning into Butter, Boy Gets Girl) and directed by Royal Court artistic director Ian Rickson, The Sweetest Swing in Baseball concerns a painter whose savaging by the critics of her latest exhibition leads to mental breakdown and a stay in a psychiatric hospital. It continues its limited season until 1 May 2004.


OPENING SATURDAY, 3 April 2004, the West End’s longest still running musical, Les Miserables, moves into its new home at the Queen’s Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue, after 18 years down the road at the Palace, where it had its final performance on 27 March (See News, 21 Nov 2003).

Based on Victor Hugo's humanitarian novel about a persecuted man in 19th-century revolutionary France, Les Mis has been seen worldwide by over 50 million people in more than 38 countries and in 21 languages. Originally adapted and directed by Trevor Nunn and John Caird for the RSC, the musical has a book by Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alain Boublil, with music by Schönberg and lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer. The production is designed by John Napier and produced by Cameron Mackintosh.

The current cast features Jeff Leyton (as Jean Valjean), Michael McCarthy (Javert), Sophia Ragavelas (Eponine), Joanna Ampil (Fantine) and former S Club popster Jon Lee (Marius).

- by Terri Paddock