OPENING MONDAY, 9 October 2006 (previews from 3 October) at the New Ambassadors, Sir Peter Hall’s 50th anniversary production of Samuel Beckett’s modern masterpiece Waiting for Godot at last receives its West End transfer, albeit a year late (See News, 21 Sep 2006). Two tramps, Vladimir and Estragon, are waiting on a deserted road. As they pass the time, they ask the question: “Will Mr Godot ever come?”. In the National Theatre’s NT2000 poll, theatre professionals voted Waiting for Godot the most significant English language play of the 20th century.
Hall directed the play’s English-language world premiere in 1955 when he was the 25-year-old artistic director of London’s Arts Theatre. In this production, first seen last summer as part of Hall’s annual summer repertory season at the Theatre Royal Bath, James Laurenson and Alan Dobie are Vladimir and Estragon, with Richard Dormer as Lucky and Terence Rigby as Pozzo.
ALSO ON MONDAY, just two days after Les Miserables marked its 21st, with original star Elaine Paige making a surprise curtain call appearance, the West End’s second longest-running musical The Phantom of the Opera celebrates its 20th birthday at Her Majesty’s Theatre, where composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and his original Christine (and ex-wife) Sarah Brightman will attend tonight’s performance.
OPENING TUESDAY, 10 October 2006 (previews from 23 September), Anna Maxwell Martin makes her musical debut playing Sally Bowles in Kander and Ebb’s Cabaret (See News, 13 Jun 2006), directed by Rufus Norris (Festen, Market Boy), also making his musical debut. Maxwell Martin is joined in the cast by James Dreyfus as the Emcee, Sheila Hancock as Fraulein Schneider and Broadway’s Michael Hayden as Cliff, a part he previously played in 1999 in Sam Mendes’ staging (first seen at the Donmar Warehouse) at New York’s Studio 54.
Cabaret turns Weimar Berlin into a dark and sexually charged haven of decadence, its morally ambiguous inhabitants determined to keep up appearances as the real world - outside the sanctuary of the cabaret - prepares for the chaos of war. Based on the stories of Christopher Isherwood and the play by John Van Druten, it has a book by Joe Masteroff, music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb. Cabaret premiered on Broadway on 1966 and in 1972 was made into an Oscar-winning film starring Liza Minnelli as Sally Bowles, Michael York as Cliff and Joel Grey as the Emcee.
OPENING WEDNESDAY, 11 October 2006, the Young Vic, which has been closed since July 2004 while undergoing a £12.45 million makeover, inaugurates its rebuilt theatre with Tobias and the Angel, running until 21 October (See News, 5 Jul 2006). The community opera, with words by artistic director David Lan and music by Jonathan Dove, was the first production in the Young Vic’s Walkabout season during its two years away from home. Then staged at Waterloo’s nearby St John’s Church, it’s now being revived as the first production of the reopening season in the landmark theatre’s famous, and retained, 500-seat, semi in-the-round main house. Once again, 80 locals from Lambeth and Southwark have been recruited to perform in the show’s choir along with professional actors and singers. John Fulljames directs.
ALSO ON WEDNESDAY, Ursula Martinez, an associate artist of the Duckie Collective, bring hers trilogy Me Me Me! to the Barbican Pit for a run to 21 October 2006. In the “fiercely autobiographical” piece, Martinez interrogates her parents, live on stage.
ALSO ON WEDNESDAY, Sisters, Such Devoted Sisters returns to the Drill Hall, where it had its London premiere two years ago following award-winning success at the Edinburgh Fringe. In the monologue, written and performed by Russell Barr, Drag Queen Bernice Hindley lifts the lid on Glasgow’s gay underworld. The limited season continues to 29 October 2006.
- by Terri Paddock