Amongst the major London openings taking place this week are:

OPENING TONIGHT, Monday 10 November 2003 (previews from 14 October), the cult hit Jerry Springer - The Opera receives its West End premiere at the Cambridge Theatre, following its sell-out season at the National (See News, 4 Jul 2003). The real-life American talk show host Jerry Springer is flying in especially for tonight's gala performance as well as a press conference this morning with his stage twin Michael Brandon and show creators Richard Thomas and Stewart Lee (See The Goss, 4 Nov 2003).

Promising "triumph, tragedy and trailer trash as high art meets low life", Jerry Springer - The Opera is based on America's most lurid talk show and the host who has broadcast programmes such as "Pregnant by a Transsexual", "Here Come the Hookers" and "I Refuse to Wear Clothes". Brandon is joined in the 36-strong cast by David Bedella, Valda Aviks, Alison Jiear and Andrew Bevis. Last week, the show was nominated for the Evening Standard award for Best Musical (See News, 4 Nov 2003).

OPENING TUESDAY, 11 November 2003 (previews from 5 November), Irish playwright Gary Mitchell (The Force of Change, Trust) returns to the Royal Court with his new play, Loyal Women, which continues in the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs until 13 December 2003. Directed by Josie Rourke, Loyal Women finds Brenda under siege in her Belfast home, her daughter Jenny's baby crying upstairs, her mother-in-law sleeping in the front room and the women of the Ulster Defence Association converging. Where does family end and loyalty begin?

ALSO ON TUESDAY (previews from 10 November), television comedian Lenny Henry makes his West End debut at Wyndham's Theatre (See News, 12 Aug 2003). His new one-man show, which follows the formula of TV's This Is My Life and continues to 29 November 2003, reunites Henry with the creative team of writer Kim Fuller and Complicite director Simon McBurney. The season of comedy was thrown into disarray in September when Michael Barrymore, the first in a three-strong line-up, abandoned his own show after only three performances.

OPENING WEDNESDAY, 12 November 2003 (previews 6 November), at the West End's Duke of York's Theatre, Stephen Poliakoff directs a new revival of his 1996 thriller, Sweet Panic (See News, 26 Sep 2003). Jane Horrocks, John Gordon Sinclair and Award winner Victoria Hamilton star in the piece about a child psychologist whose understanding of contemporary life is brought into question when she finds herself stalked by the mother of one of her young clients.

ALSO ON WEDNESDAY (previews from 11 November), renowned all-girl comedy singing trio Fascinating Aida bring their 20th anniversary, farewell show One Last Flutter to the West End's Comedy Theatre after an extensive regional tour (See News, 30 Sep 2003). Singing self-penned comic songs on love, sex and other subjects, co-founders Adele Anderson, Marilyn Cutts and Dillie Keane reunite for the limited season, which continues to 6 December 2003.

OPENING THURSDAY, 13 November 2003 (previews 7 November), The Pillowman, the latest "disturbing" black comedy by Martin McDonagh (The Cripple of Inishmaan, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, The Lieutenant of Inishmore), receives its world premiere at the National Theatre. In a totalitarian state, a writer is interrogated about the gruesome content of his short stories and their similarities to a number of child-murderers that are happening in his town.

As with other McDonagh plays, The Pillowman comes complete with a warning that it "contains scenes and language that may offend and is not suitable for children". The cast includes David Tennant, Adam Godley, Nigel Lindsay and Oscar winner Jim Broadbent, who are directed by John Crowley. The production runs in repertory at the NT Cottesloe, where it's currently booking up to 3 January 2004.

- by Terri Paddock