OPENING TUESDAY, 8 May 2007 (previews from 4 May), Fame the Musical returns yet again to the West End to spend the summer at the Shaftesbury Theatre, its fifth London home, where the cast includes Hollyoaks’ Natalie Casey and Ian H Watkins, formerly of pop group Steps (See News, 15 Mar 2007). Based on Alan Parker's 1980 Oscar-winning film and the American TV series of the same name, Fame follows a group of students from New York’s School for the Performing Arts through the highs, lows, friendships, romances and hard work necessary in their quest for success. Its limited season continues until 1 September.
ALSO ON TUESDAY, DBC Pierre’s Booker Prize-winning novel Vernon God Little is adapted for the stage in a new version written by Tanya Ronder and directed by Rufus Norris at the Young Vic (See News, 20 Mar 2007). The comedy follows the misadventures of fast-talking American teen Vernon, starting with him sitting in the sheriff’s office after his best friend Jesus killed all their classmates before committing suicide. Newcomer Colin Morgan takes the title role in a cast that also features Critics’ Circle Best Newcomer Mariah Gale. The play’s limited season concludes on 9 June 2007.
ALSO ON TUESDAY (previews from 3 May 2007), Ben Whishaw and Maxine Peake head the cast in the premiere of Philip Ridley’s new play Leaves of Glass, running at Soho Theatre until 26 May (See News, 28 Mar 2007). Directed by Soho’s new artistic director Lisa Goldman, the haunting drama about a family dealing with loss is set near Ridley’s home in the East End of London. The run is accompanied by an exhibition of photos Ridley created to help his writing process, shown in public for the first time, and late night poem readings by Ridley.
ALSO ON TUESDAY (previews from 8 May 2007), Theatre503 continues its summer season with the world premiere of Salt Meets Wound, written by Paines Plough writer-in-residence Tom Morton-Smith and directed by Theatre 503 joint artistic director Paul Robinson. From 11th-century Samarkand, through the Great Fire of London, to a disused weapons’ facility in the remotest place on earth, Salt Meets Wound is an epic odyssey spanning a thousand years, with a cast of eight actors playing 23 characters. Morton-Smith’s shorts have been presented at the Royal Court and Hampstead Theatres.
OPENING WEDNESDAY, 9 May 2007 (previews from 3 May 2007), Ben Miles and Lia Williams star in the world premiere of My Child, Mike Bartlett’s new play about a ferocious custody battle, staged in a radically reconfigured Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Downstairs (See News, 20 Mar 2007). The play also features Sara Kestelman and is directed by Court associate director Sacha Wares. It runs until 2 June 2007.
ALSO ON WEDNESDAY, Peter Brook’s production of South African classic Sizwe Banzi Is Dead, performed in French with English surtitles, visits the Barbican Pit for a limited run to 26 May as part of an international tour. The second of three statement plays by Athol Fugard – and the second production of the play performed in London this year (the first was at the National last month, performed by the play’s co-authors and original stars John Kani and Winston Ntshona) - Sizwe Banzi Is Dead is about the everyday life of the urban black community in South Africa during apartheid.
OPENING THURSDAY, 10 May 2007 (previews 3 May), the stage adaptation of A Matter of Life and Death - Powell and Pressburger’s 1946 film about an airman who survives a fatal jump thanks to an angelic blunder caused by an English pea-souper - receives its world premiere at the National Theatre, the second production in this year’s Travelex £10 Season in the NT Olivier. It’s adapted by Tom Morris and Kneehigh artistic director Emma Rice, who also directs. The cast features Douglas Hodge, Tristan Sturrock, Lyndsey Marshal and Theatre Vesturport’s Gisli Orn Gardarsson. The premiere production runs in rep until 21 June 2007.
ALSO ON THURSDAY (previews from 8 May), Edmund White’s new play Terre Haute, inspired by correspondence between Gore Vidal and Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, arrives at the West End’s Trafalgar Studios following its Fringe First-winning premiere at last year’s Edinburgh festival and a regional tour. Jeremy Perrin directs Peter Eyre and Arthur Darvill in the two-hander, which continues until 2 June 2007.
- by Malcolm Rock & Terri Paddock