The Royal Shakespeare Company’s tribute revival of Arthur Miller’s 1953 classic The Crucible transferred triumphantly to the West End last night (5 April 2006, preview from 29 March) for a limited season at the Gielgud Theatre, care of commercial producers Bill Kenwright and Thelma Holt, who’ve previously brought the RSC’s Judi Dench-headed All’s Well That Ends Well, the pairing of The Taming the Shrew and The Tamer Tamed, and the Olivier Award-winning Jacobean season to Shaftesbury Avenue.

For 1st Night Photos, our photographer was on hand at the opening night party at Le Meridien, Piccadilly, which was also attended by guests including Anthony Andrews, Sophie Okenodo, Ben Daniels, David Oyelowo, Sam West, Hannah Gordon, Jenny Seagrove, Charlotte Emmerson, Antony Sher, directors Gregory Doran, Daniel Kramer and Indhu Rubasingham, as well as members of the company led by Iain Glen, Helen Schesinger, Robert Bowman, Elaine Cassidy, James Laurenson and Ian Gelder.

The Crucible was just one of the London opening’s last night for director Dominic Cooke, an RSC associate director and artistic director-designate of the Royal Court (See News, 24 Mar 2006). His double bill of Postcards from America - which stars Suzanne Burden and Lia Williams and was first seen at the RSC’s New Work Festival in Stratford last autumn – also opened at Soho Theatre.

Set in 1692 in Massachusetts, The Crucible centres on the reign of terror unleashed during the Salem witchcraft trials, but was in fact a thinly veiled response from Miller to the 20th-century "anti-American" communist witch-hunts of Senator Joseph McCarthy.

This revival was the RSC’s first-ever major, main-stage production of a play by Miller, who died last February at the age of 89 (See News, 11 Feb 2005) – although a 1984 RSC production of the same play did tour regionally. Miller’s many other now-classic plays include All My Sons, A View from the Bridge and, revived last year in the West End with Olivier Award winner Brian Dennehy as Willy Loman, Death of a Salesman.

Cooke’s production of The Crucible originally opened at Stratford’s Royal Shakespeare Theatre on 28 February to strong reviews but had only a handful of dates there, as part of the RSC’s bard-free winter schedule ahead of this month’s launch of the year-long Complete Works Festival (See News, 26 Apr 2005). It’s designed by Hildegard Bechtler, with lighting by Jean Kalman, music by Gary Yershon and sound by Paul Arditti.

- by Terri Paddock