Amongst the major shows opening in London this week are:

OPENING MONDAY, 25 October 2004 (previews from 15 October), the Young Vic’s acclaimed production of Langston Hughes’ 1957 musical comedy Simply Heavenly transfers to the West End’s Trafalgar Studios (See News, 16 Aug 2004). As Jesse B Semple attempts to raise the money necessary to marry girlfriend Joyce, his friends from Paddy's bar indulge in beer and the blues. Original cast members Rhashan Stone (as Jesse), Clive Rowe, Ruby Turner and Nicola Hughes reprise their roles.

OPENING TUESDAY, 26 October 2004 (previews from 15 October), at the National Theatre is The Mandate, which runs in repertory at the NT Cottesloe, booking to 15 January 2005 (See News, 18 Aug 2004). Nikolai Erdman’s 1924 Russian farce, which was banned for decades in the former USSR, is adapted and directed by Cheek by Jowl’s Declan Donnellan (now an NT associate) and designed by Nick Ormerod. The cast includes Deborah Findlay (Mother Clap’s Molly House and Stanley, for which she won an Olivier).

ALSO ON TUESDAY (preview 25 October) - following extensive UK touring, the Edinburgh Fringe and a previous London season at the Hammersmith Apollo - comedian Bill Bailey brings his hit stand-up show Part Troll for a limited six-week season at the West End’s Apollo Theatre, where it runs until 4 December 2004 (See News, 7 Oct 2004).

OPENING WEDNESDAY, 27 October 2004 (previews from 15 October), Scottish screen star Dougray Scott takes the title role in Becket at the West End’s Theatre Royal Haymarket (See News, 9 Jul 2004). In John Caird’s revival of Jean Anouilh’s 1959 play about the medieval relationship between King Henry II and Thomas à Becket, the assassinated Archbishop of Canterbury, Scott plays opposite stage stalwart Jasper Britton (The Taming of the Shrew, Japes, Macbeth) as the monarch. Booking continues until 12 February 2005.

OPENING THURSDAY, 28 October 2004 (previews from 15 October), Spectator theatre critic Toby Young faces the critics himself when he takes to the stage to perform the one-man show based on his memoir about being down and out-spoken in New York, How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, at the West End’s Arts Theatre. Tim Fountain’s dramatisation of Young’s book premiered in April 2003 at Soho Theatre, when Jack Davenport starred. At the Arts, from next week, it will run concurrently with another Big Apple-set one-man show Fully Committed, which transfers from the fringe Menier Chocolate Factory (See News, 30 Sep 2004).

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ALSO ON THURSDAY (preview 21 October), Nick Stafford’s Love Me Tonight receives its world premiere at north London’s Hampstead Theatre (See News, 24 Sep 2004). The tragi-comedy, in which a family confronts itself when the need for love is intensified by grief, is directed by actress-turned-director Kathy Burke and stars Linda Bassett (Lucky Dog, Out in the Open, East Is East, Calendar Girls). It continues to 20 November 2004.

** DON'T MISS our offer for a sneak-peek at Love Me Tonight with tickets for just £10! – offer ends 29 October 2004 - click here for more info!

- by Terri Paddock