Amongst the major openings in London this week are:

OPENING TUESDAY, 3 October 2006 (previews from 26 September), Coronation Street’s Sally Lindsay stars in The Ho-Ho Club, a comedy about stand-up, at the King’s Head Theatre in Islington, north London. Roy Smiles’ play also features Stephen Dean, Katy-Jo Howman, Roger Kitter, Dave Mayberry, Billy Miller and the author himself. It runs until 5 November 2006.

ALSO ON TUESDAY (previews from 28 September), a new version of Franz Kafka’s 1915 literary classic Metamorphosis opens at west London’s Lyric Hammersmith for a run to 28 October 2006 (See News, 16 May 2006). Lyric artistic director David Farr and Gísli Orn Gardarsson, artistic director of Icelandic company Vesturport, have adapted the novel for the stage. In the terrifying but darkly humorous tale, young Gregor Samsa awakes one morning from horrible dreams to find himself transformed into a giant insect. The production features an international cast performing aerial physicality, reuniting many of the creative collaborators behind last year’s Woyzeck, with original music by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis and design by Borkur Jonsson.


OPENING WEDNESDAY, 4 October 2006, the Actors’ Company presents a short repertory season of Peter Weiss’ Marat/Sade and Howard Richardson’s Dark of the Moon at Jermyn Street Theatre.


OPENING THURSDAY, 5 October 2006 (previews from 22 September), Scotsman Alan Cumming returns to the West End to star in Daniel Kramer’s revival of Martin Sherman’s 1978 play Bent at the Trafalgar Studios (See News, 10 Aug 2006). Since his 1998 success with Sam Mendes’ Donmar staging of Cabaret - which he accompanied, with Tony Award-winning success, to Broadway - Cumming has been largely based in the US. His other stage credits include Conquest of the South Pole, La Bete, Hamlet and Accidental Death of an Anarchist in London and Design for Living and The Threepenny Opera in New York.

In Nazi Germany, homosexual Max (Cumming) is sent to Dachau, his lover killed en route. At the concentration camp, he denies being gay, preferring to wear the yellow star of the Jews, but when he falls in love with fellow prisoner Horst, he must make a stand. Ian McKellen (pictured visiting Cumming backstage at Trafalgar Studios) starred in the 1990 National Theatre production of the play. Cumming is joined in the current cast by newcomer Chris New and Kevin Trainor. The Pet Shop Boys’ Chris Lowe has written a new song for the new production.


ON SATURDAY, 7 October 2006, a specially devised finale at the evening performance of Les Miserables at the Queen’s Theatre celebrates two milestones: the show’s 21st birthday and becoming the world’s longest-running musical (See News, 2 Aug 2006). Producer Cameron Mackintosh and the BBC have also teamed up to produce a specially adapted 75-minute concert version of the show, which will be broadcast on Sunday 8 October (See News, 7 Sep 2006). The current West End cast features John Owen-Jones (as Jean Valjean), Hans Peter Janssens (Javert), Jon Lee (Marius), Sophia Ragavelas (Fantine), Sabrina Aloueche (Eponine), Chris Vincent (Thénardier) and Tracie Bennett (Madame Thénardier).

Based on Victor Hugo's humanitarian novel about a persecuted man in 19th-century revolutionary France, Les Miserables has a book by Alain Boublil, music by Claude-Michel Schonberg and lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer. It’s directed by Trevor Nunn with John Caird and designed by John Napier.

- by Caroline Ansdell & Terri Paddock