Amongst the major shows opening in London this week are:

OPENING TONIGHT, Monday 13 September 2004 (previews from 9 September), the Royal Court Young Playwrights’ Season 2004 launches with John Donnelly’s three-hander Bone, which continues until 25 September. Stephen wants his ex to realise he’s got what it takes, Helen wants her dead husband back, Jamie wants a girl to see him off to war.

OPENING TUESDAY, 14 September 2004 (previews from 9 September), Clare Higgins - who won triple Best Actress honours (Evening Standard, Critics Circle, Olivier) for 2002’s Vincent in Brixton - takes the title role in Frank McGuinness’ new version of Hecuba, Euripides’ Greek tragedy about the devastation of war (See News, 5 Aug 2004). She’s joined in the cast by Tim Pigott-Smith, Eddie Redmayne and Finbar Lynch in the production directed by former Almeida joint artistic director Jonathan Kent and designed by Paul Brown. It continues to 13 November 2004.

The Donmar’s Hecuba is not to be confused with the RSC’s production of Hecuba, which stars Vanessa Redgrave and opens first at Stratford before transferring to the West End’s Albery Theatre in April 2005 (See News, 29 Mar & 15 Jul 2004).

ALSO ON TUESDAY (preview 13 September), Singular Sensations (See News, 27 Jul 2004), the six-week season of music and cabaret at the West End’s Theatre Royal Haymarket continues with American popular singer and Ira Gershwin protégé Michael Feinstein (See Today’s 20 Questions), who performs up to 25 September. He’s followed in the schedule by West End favourite Michael Ball and, performing together, classical pianist Joshua Rifkin and soprano Ida Faiella, who conclude the schedule on 16 October.

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OPENING WEDNESDAY, 15 September 2004 (previews from 28 August), Andrew Lloyd Webber’s much-anticipated new musical The Woman in White receives its world premiere at the West End’s newly refurbished Palace Theatre (See News,18 Jun 2004). Loosely based on Wilkie Collins’ 1869 Victorian novel, has a book by Charlotte Jones and lyrics by David Zippel. The premiere production is directed by Trevor Nunn with state-of-the-art projected design by William Dudley.

The 21-strong cast is led by triple Olivier Award winner Maria Friedman (as sister Marian) and Michael Crawford (as the sinister Count Fosco), who returns to the West End stage for the first time since originating the role The Phantom of the Opera 18 years ago). The Woman in White is co-produced by Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Theatre Company and Sonia Friedman Productions.

OPENING THURSDAY, 16 September 2004 (previews from 3 September), the revival of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest marks Hollywood star Christian Slater’s delayed West End debut at the Gielgud Theatre. The production, first opened at last month’s Edinburgh festival, has been beset by problems including a late directorial change, a bout of chicken pox and cancelled performances.

In Dale Wasserman’s play adapted from Ken Kesey’s 1962 novel, Slater stars as petty criminal RP McMurphy – the role immortalised by Jack Nicholson in the Oscar-winning 1975 film - who shakes it up amongst the patients on Nurse Ratched’s mental ward. He’s joined in the cast by Frances Barber as Ratched and The Office’s Mackenzie Crook as Billy Bibbitt (pictured with Slater). The production is co-directed by Terry Johnson and Tamara Harvey, who took over from Guy Masterson and produced by Nica Burns for Really Useful Theatres.

ALSO ON THURSDAY (previews from 14 September), Shared Experience return to west London’s Lyric Hammersmith with a revival of its acclaimed 2002 adaptation of EM Forster’s classic 1924 novel A Passage to India. The production, directed by Shared Experience artistic director Nancy Meckler and co-produced by Nottingham Playhouse, continues in London 25 September before touring to Cork, Nottingham, Liverpool, Poole and Salford as well as a limited engagement in New York has (See News, 26 Aug 2004).

- by Terri Paddock