While Britney Spears is reportedly keen to see Spring Awakening if the theatre closes for a private performance for her and her entourage (See The Goss, 17 Apr 2009), there were no such grandiose demands made by Microsoft multi-billionaire Bill Gates and his wife Melinda when they popped into the Novello last night to see the alt-rock Broadway musical import. After the show, the couple nipped back stage and were all smiles as they met leading lady Charlotte Wakefield and other members of the company, as well as producer Matthew Byam Shaw.

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Spring Awakening, which has music by Duncan Sheik and book and lyrics by Steven Sater, is based on the Frank Wedekind’s 1891 play of the same name about sexual discovery. Set in 19th-century Germany, the story centres on brilliant student Melchior, his troubled friend Moritz and Wendla, a beautiful girl on the verge of womanhood.

It features a young cast of relative unknowns, many of whom are making their professional stage debuts, led by Charlotte Wakefield (as Wendla), Iwan Rheon (Moritz) and Aneurin Barnard (Melchior).

Spring Awakening premiered at New York’s Atlantic Theater Company in May 2006 and transferred that December to Broadway’s Eugene O’Neill Theatre. The Broadway production won eight trophies, including Best Musical, at last year’s Tony Awards (See News, 11 Jun 2007). It\'s directed by Michael Mayer and choreographed by Bill T Jones, and is currently booking at the Novello until 31 October 2009.


Earlier in the day, our photographer Dan Wooller was on hand at the West End’s Theatre Royal Haymarket to meet the boys cast via open audition to appear on stage with stage legends Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart in Sean Mathias’ revival of Samuel Beckett’s 1955 classic Waiting for Godot, starring Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart. The production, which has just completed an eight-week regional tour, opens in the West End on 6 May 2009 (previews from 30 April).

McKellen and Stewart are Estragon and Vladimir, two tramps who pass the time by a deserted road as they wait for the mysterious Godot. They’re joined in the cast by Simon Callow and Ronald Pickup as Pozzo and Lucky. The child actors chosen to alternate in the role of a boy are: George Sear, Richard Linnell, Sam Walton and Tom Barker.

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PHOTOS BY DAN WOOLLER FOR WHATSONSTAGE.COM.

Waiting for Godot designed by Stephen Brimson Lewis, with lighting by Paul Pyant, and produced by the Theatre Royal Haymarket Company, in partnership with Duncan C Weldon, as the first production in a second season of in-house programming, for which Mathias has been appointed as artistic director. Subsequent productions in Mathias’ season – which follows the 2007/8 inaugural season helmed by Jonathan Kent – have not yet been announced.

- by Terri Paddock