In an exceptionally busy week, amongst the major openings in London are:

OPENING TONIGHT, Monday 19 May 2008, Denise Black and Alison Newman lead the cast in the premiere of The Long Road, Shelagh Stephenson’s new play about a family struggling to come to terms after a murder. It runs at Soho Theatre until 5 June 2008.

ALSO ON MONDAY, the Stage Company presents Facades, set in the 18th-century Crimean hinterland, for a run at Riverside Studios until 29 May 2008.


OPENING TUESDAY, 20 May 2008 (previews from 7 May), Michel Legrand’s new musical Marguerite receives its world premiere at the West End’s Theatre Royal Haymarket, as the final production in the theatre’s inaugural in-house season of work programmed and directed by Jonathan Kent (See News, 30 Jan 2008). Based on Alexandre Dumas’ 1848 novel La Dame aux Camelias, the musical relocates the action to Occupied Paris, where Marguerite, the mistress of a high-ranking German officer, falls in love a young jazz musician, half her age.

Marguerite has a book by Alain Boublil, Claude-Michel Schonberg and Jonathan Kent, and English lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer from the original French lyrics by Boublil, with orchestrations and arrangements by Legrand and Seann Alderking. It stars Ruthie Henshall (as Marguerite), Julian Ovenden and Alexander Hanson. The premiere production continues at the Haymarket until 1 November 2008.

ALSO ON TUESDAY, Cartoon de Salvo’s latest freewheeling improvised comedy Hard Hearted Hannah and Other Stories arrives at west London’s Lyric Hammersmith for a studio run to 7 June 2008.

ALSO ON TUESDAY, Tennessee Williams’ 1972 play Small Craft Warnings, set in a seedy Southern California coastal bar, is revived at south London’s Landor Theatre, playing until 24 May 2008.


OPENING WEDNESDAY, 21 May 2008 (previews from 7 May), Never Forget, the new musical based on the greatest hits of reformed Nineties boyband Take That, transfers to the West End’s Savoy, where it’s initially booking until 25 October (See News, 2 Nov 2007). The story centres on the members of the unlikeliest Take That tribute band and follows the rollercoaster journey of young hero Ash and his best mates in the pursuit of their dreams. The score includes Take That chart-toppers such as “Relight My Fire”, “Pray”, “Back for Good”, “Babe” and the title number. Dean Chisnall, Craige Els, Stephane Anelli, Tim Driesen and Eaton James star in the musical, which premiered last July in Cardiff and is directed by Ed Curtis, who has also co-written it with Danny Brocklehurst.

ALSO ON WEDNESDAY (previews from 19 May), Lee Hall’s new play The Pitmen Painters receives its London premiere at the National Theatre, where it runs in rep in the NT Cottesloe until 25 June (See News, 7 Apr 2008). Premiered at Newcastle’s Live Theatre last September, the piece is set in 1934 in Ashington, where a group of miners have hired a professor to teach an art appreciation class. Max Roberts directs the original company.

ALSO ON WEDNESDAY (previews from 10 May), Shakespeare’s Globe 2008 “Totus Mondus” season continues with Jonathan Munby’s new production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, featuring Pippa Nixon, Laura Rogers, Christopher Brandon and Oliver Boot as the lovers and Michael Jibson as Puck (See News, 6 Feb 2008). It continues in rep until 4 October 2008.

ALSO ON WEDNESDAY (previews from 15 May), Philip Ridley's new play Piranha Heights, opens at Soho Theatre, directed by artistic director Lisa Goldman for a run to 14 June (See News, 3 Apr 2008). In their dead mother’s flat, two brothers argue about the truth of their childhood – when the next generation crashes in, the youngsters channel their creative forces towards terror. The cast includes Luke Treadaway.


OPENING THURSDAY, 22 May 2008 (previews from 20 May), comedian Phill Jupitus makes his West End debut in Nick Reed’s new comedy Lifecoach, which is at Trafalgar Studios 2 until 14 June (See News, 13 Mar 2008). Wendy's life is a mess. Her boss is losing patience, her boyfriend has no respect for her and she can't speak up for herself. Wendy needs help. Unfortunately so does her life coach, Colin. Amy Darcy co-stars.

ALSO ON THURSDAY (previews from 15 May), Helen McCrory, Paul Hilton and Malcolm Sinclair star in Anthony Page’s revival of Ibsen’s 1886 classic Rosmersholm, in a new version by Mike Poulton, which runs at the Almeida Theatre until 5 July (See News, 11 Feb 2008). The suicide of his wife and the influence of the mysterious Rebecca West (McCrory) lead former clergyman Johannes Rosmer (Hilton) to pledge his support to a new libertarian movement, much to the anger of his brother-in-law Doctor Kroll (Sinclair), who tries to sabotage Rosmer's revolutionary ways.


OPENING FRIDAY, 23 May 2008 (previews from 22 May), EastEndersJessie Wallace stars in the premiere of Haunted, a new thriller by Jon Claydon and Tim Lawler, which runs at the Arts Theatre until 14 June (See News, 18 Apr 2008). Wallace plays one of five guests at a dinner party at a chi-chi loft apartment in Southwark, south London. As the evening progresses, thing begin to unravel and a sixth character becomes apparent – the house itself. Is it haunted? And is the lift in the living room a portal to evil spirits? Also in the cast are Hamish Clark, Gary McDonald, Caroline Catz and Sue Devaney. Paul Jepson directs.

ALSO ON FRIDAY, Footsbarn Theatre returns to London after a 15-year absence to present its new piece, specially conceived for the Shakespeare’s Globe where it’s on for five performances only until 25 May (See News, 27 Nov 2007).

- by Terri Paddock