Amongst the major shows opening in London this week are:

OPENING TONIGHT, 20 March 2006 (previews from 13 March), Timothy West stars in English Touring Theatre’s revival of Alan Bennett’s 1977 play The Old Country, which comes to the West End’s Trafalgar Studios, following a six-week regional tour (See News, 5 Jan 2006). Revolving around a man who has left behind a life of power and influence, he is forced to examine his allegiances when his sister and newly knighted brother-in-law come to visit. The cast also includes Simon Williams, Jean Marsh and Susan Tracy. The play’s limited season continues until 16 May 2006.

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ALSO TONIGHT, The League of Gentlemen’s Reece Shearsmith takes over as Leo Bloom in Mel Brooks’ hit musical The Producers at Drury Lane, opposite Cory English (former understudy, most recently seen in Guys and Dolls) as Max Bialystock (See News, 26 Jan 2006)

OPENING WEDNESDAY, 22 March 2006 (preview 21 March), at the Barbican Pit, a double-bill of Samuel Beckett’s Rockaby and Ohio Impromptu launches the Beckett Centenary Festival at the Barbican Centre to 6 May (See News, 17 Mar 2006).

ALSO ON WEDNESDAY (previews from 15 March), Sophie Tucker's One Night Stand, previously seen at the New End Theatre, now comes to the King’s Head (See News, 22 Feb 2006). Sue Kelvin reprises her title performance for a season to 30 April 2006. During her 60-year career, singer Sophie Tucker appeared many times at the London Palladium and was described by the Beatles as “our favourite American group”. The show coincides with the 40th anniversary of Tucker’s death in 1966.

OPENING SATURDAY, 25 March 2006, Mike Leigh’s Two Thousand Years returns from a national tour and resumes a run at the National Theatre, now in the Lyttelton instead of the Cottesloe, and with new cast members Tracy-Ann Oberman and Simon Schatzberger (See News, 10 Nov 2005). Set in modern London, the domestic drama revolves around the strained relationships in a middle-class Jewish family, whose liberal-minded parents are shocked when their son becomes religious.

- by Caroline Ansdell