Among the major shows opening in London this week are:

OPENING TONIGHT, Monday 20 June 2005 (previews from 16 June), is The Genius of Ray Charles at the West End’s Theatre Royal Haymarket. It tells the life story of one of America’s most influential black musicians, the blind singer, composer and pianist who died last year at the age of 73 (See News, 12 May 2005). Charles was posthumously awarded six Grammys for his last album, Genius Loves Company. Amongst the Charles songs featured in the show are: “Georgia on My Mind”, “Hit the Road Jack”, “I Can’t Stop Loving You” and “Unchain My Heart”.

ALSO TONIGHT (previews from 16 June), young Spanish playwright Juan Mayorga’s Way to Heaven, set in the heart of Europe in 1942, premieres at the Royal Court’s Jerwood Theatre Upstairs for a season to 9 July.

ALSO TONIGHT (previews from 16 June), Hampstead Theatre hosts the London transfer of Three Women and a Piano Tuner. First seen at Chichester Festival last summer, Helen Cooper’s new play is directed by Samuel West, who takes over as artistic director of Sheffield Theatres this month. In it, three women are bound together by a father’s love for his daughter and a mother’s love for her son. The cast features Eleanor David, Jane Gurnett and Phoebe Nicholls.

ALSO TONIGHT (previews from 17 June), David Bedella, the Olivier Award-winning star of Jerry Springer - the Opera (in which he created the role of Satan and the Warm-Up Man), plays the title role in the cult off-Broadway musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch, being revived at the London gay nightclub Heaven (See News, 17 May 2005). The limited season runs until 1 July 2005 as part of the Gay Pride Festival 2005.

OPENING TUESDAY, 21 June 2005 (previews from 3 June), fashion icon and fiancé of Hollywood heart-throb Jude Law, Sienna Miller, makes her theatrical debut in As You Like It at the West End’s Wyndham’s Theatre (See News, 11 Mar 2005}). In the Shakespearean comedy, Miller (who plays Celia) co-stars with award-winning stage actress Helen McCrory (as Rosalind), whose most recent credits include Old Times, Five Gold Rings, Uncle Vanya, Twelfth Night and Platonov. The cast, directed by Young Vic artistic director David Lan, also features Dominic West (Orlando), Clive Rowe, Reece Shearsmith and Sean Hughes.

ALSO ON TUESDAY, Flight 5065 – an evening of live theatre, music and comedy – takes place aboard the British Airways London Eye, with one-off performances in each of the 32 capsules (See News, 19 May 2005). The aim is to raise awareness of the need for fair trade in Africa and to celebrate the continent ahead of the G8 Summit, which will be hosted by Prime Minister Tony Blair at Gleneagles in Scotland from 6 to 8 July.

OPENING FRIDAY, 24 June 2005 (previews from 21 June), actor-turned-playwright Nick Moran’s debut play Telstar transfers to the West End’s New Ambassadors Theatre following a regional tour (See News 21 Apr 2005). It traces the rise and fall of Joe Meek, who became Britain’s first independent record producer and a rock ‘n’ roll pioneer in the 1960s. Meek produced three massive hits of the period, but his passion and drive went hand-in-hand with a volatile temperament and an addiction to amphetamines. The play stars James Hicks, Con O'Neill and Linda Robson. It continues until 10 September 2005.

ALSO ON FRIDAY (previews from 21 June), Sound Theatre, a brand new performance space converted from a former nightclub in Leicester Square, launches with a new production of Moises Kaufman’s The Laramie Project, the true story of the gay-bashing murder of a young American university student in 1998 (See News, 25 May 2005). The cast includes Margot Leicester, John Lloyd Fillingham and Russell Tovey. The limited season runs to 28 July 2005.

- by Caroline Ansdell