Amongst the major shows opening in London this week are:

OPENING TONIGHT, Monday 19 June 2006 (previews from 12 June), Tom Conti recreates his title performance in Jeffrey Bernard Is Unwell at the West End’s Garrick Theatre (See News, 12 May 2006). Keith Waterhouse’s play is based around the recollections of the late Spectator writer Bernard, a legend in the bohemian London district of Soho, notorious for his womanising, gambling and drinking in the Coach and Horses pub. Conti took over from Peter O’Toole in the play’s original West End run in 1989. Ned Sherrin directs.

OPENING TUESDAY, 20 June 2006, Rod Beacham’s acclaimed one-man play about the late newspaper tycoon Robert Maxwell, Lies Have Been Told, returns to the West End’s Trafalgar Studio 2, where it has a second limited season until 15 July (See News, 9 Mar 2006). Philip York reprises his performance as Maxwell, directed by Alan Dosser. The play was first seen last year at Hampstead’s New End Theatre and had two and a half weeks at Trafalgar Studios in January.

OPENING WEDNESDAY, 21 June 2006 (preview 2 June), Michael Grandage revives Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s hit 1978 musical Evita at the West End’s Adelphi Theatre, with Argentine actress Elena Roger taking the title role alongside Philip Quast as Juan Peron and Matt Rawle as narrator Che Guevara (See News, 30 Jan 2006).

Evita is based on the life and times of Eva Peron, the second wife of Argentine dictator Juan Peron. It chronicles her life as one of Argentina’s most complex and powerful public figures, against a backdrop of political unrest, until her death of cancer aged 33 in 1952. The musical premiered, with Elaine Paige playing Eva, at the West End’s Prince Edward Theatre in January 1978 where it ran for seven years. In 1996, Alan Parker’s film version starred Madonna, Jonathan Pryce and Antonio Banderas. In addition to the original score – which includes classics such as “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” and “Another Suitcase in Another Hall” - Grandage’s new production features, for the first time on stage, the Oscar-winning “You Must Love Me”, which was written especially for Parker’s film and became a Top Ten single.

ALSO ON WEDNESDAY (previews from 16 June), Woman and Scarecrow, the latest play by leading Irish playwright Marina Carr, premieres at the Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Upstairs, where it continues until 15 July 2006. A woman - gaunt and ill, haggard after giving birth eight times - faces death. What was life? What was love? What else could have been? Fiona Shaw stars, directed by Ramin Gray.

** DON’T MISS the chance to see Fiona Shaw in Woman & Scarecrow for only £10 – offer ends 24 June 2006 - click here for more details! **

OPENING THURSDAY, 22 June 2006 (‘secret’ previews from 15 June), the winner of Channel Four’s TV reality competition The Play's the Thing receives its world premiere at the West End’s New Ambassadors Theatre (See News, 13 Jun 2006). In the current, four-part TV series, producer Sonia Friedman – with the help of literary agent Mel Kenyon and actor Neil Pearson – have been set the challenge of finding a never-before-produced writer and preparing their debut play for a professional West End run. Over 2,000 aspiring playwrights entered the competition. Maxine Peake, Paul Hilton and Tom McKay star in the resulting stage production, which is being directed by Robert Delamere after the original director Steven Pimlott fell ill (See News, 25 May 2006).

** DON’T MISS the chance to see the winner of The Play’s the Thing for as little as £5 – offer ends 7 July 2006 - click here for more details! **

- by Terri Paddock