OPENING TONIGHT, Monday 15 October 2007 (previews from 2 October), Kylie Minogue creative director William Baker makes his theatre debut with a new “remixed” version of Jonathan Larson’s 1996 Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway musical Rent at the West End’s Duke of York’s Theatre (See News, 7 Sep 2007). Denise Van Outen and former Sugababe Siobhan Donaghy lead a cast that also includes Leon Lopez, Luke Evans, Oliver Thornton and Jay Webb.
Inspired by Puccini's La Bohême, Larson's original musical updated the plot to early 1990s New York where a community of East End squatters battled to fulfil their aspirations against the reality of rent demands and AIDS. The death of 35-year-old creator and composer from an aortic aneurysm shortly after the final dress rehearsal of Rent's debut transformed the musical into a cause celebre in New York, where it’s still running.
OPENING TUESDAY, 16 October 2007 (previews from 5 October), Hollywood actor Christian Slater (pictured), who won the Whatsonstage.com Best Actor Award for his 2004 turn in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, returns to the West End to play a vicious Hollywood producer in the world premiere stage adaptation of the cult 1994 film Swimming with Sharks, which runs for 15 weeks only at the Vaudeville Theatre (See News, 8 Aug 2007).
Buddy Ackerman is one of the most powerful men in the cut-throat world of Hollywood – and he’s the boss from hell. When his abused assistant Guy reaches breaking point, it leads to a torturous showdown. Swimming with Sharks is adapted by UK playwright and screenwriter Michael Lesslie. Wilson Milam directs the premiere production, which also stars Helen Baxendale and, as Guy, Matt Smith.
ALSO ON TUESDAY (previews from 10 October), Josie Rourke directs the world premiere of How to Curse, her first production at the Bush Theatre since taking over as artistic director in April (See News, 6 Jul 2007). In Ian McHugh’s debut play, four friends marooned in Great Yarmouth try to conjure up a storm à la The Tempest.
ALSO ON TUESDAY, the second annual Perfect Pitch, the event established in 2006 for the development of homegrown musical theatre and supported this year by Whatsonstage.com, opens at the Upstairs at the Gatehouse theatre in Highgate (See News, 25 Sep 2007). Ten new musicals will be showcased during the season, which continues until 28 October.
OPENING WEDNESDAY, 17 October 2007 (previews from 9 October), at the National Theatre, Nick Stafford’s premiere stage adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s children’s novel War Horse joins the rep NT Olivier repertory. Young Albert's beloved horse Joey is sold to the cavalry and shipped to France during the First World War. He's soon caught up in enemy fire, and fate takes him on an extraordinary odyssey, serving on both sides before finding himself alone in no man's land. However, Albert cannot forget Joey and, still not old enough to enlist, the boy embarks on a treacherous mission to find the horse and bring him home.
Suitable for over 12s, War Horse is brought to life using puppets created by Adrian Kohler and South African puppet company Handspring. The production is co-directed by NT associates Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris and designed by Rae Smith.
OPENING THURSDAY, 18 October 2007 (previews from 10 October), Robert Bathurst brings to life Alex, the Daily Telegraph’s long-running comic strip about an obnoxious corporate financier. The new stage adaptation, written by the cartoon’s creators Charles Peattie and Russell Taylor, runs for nine weeks to 8 December 2007. Shockheaded Peter’s Phelim McDermott directs.
ALSO ON THURSDAY (previews from 16 October), Lyric Hammersmith artistic director David Farr joins forces with video specialists Filter theatre company and Radiohead’s live performance creative designer Andi Watson to create ‘live chemistry’ in Water, running to 3 November 2007 at the west London theatre (See News, 22 Jun 2007). In the devised piece, set against a backdrop of increasingly unstable climate change, two half-brothers clash over the legacy of their dead father, while another man runs from the impending birth of his child.
ALSO ON THURSDAY (previews from 12 October), Theatre Royal Stratford East offers another remix this week, its version of Jean Genet’s 1959 lyrical play The Blacks, reinvented care of DJ Excalibah and his company of rappers, poets and comedians.
- by Terri Paddock