OPENING TONIGHT, Monday 27 November 2006 (previews from 23 November), Rona Munro’s stage adaptation of Watership Down premieres at the Lyric Hammersmith (See News, 16 May 2006). The show - adapted from the classic children’s novel about rabbits facing a battle for the safety of their homes, by Rona Munro and directed and designed by Melly Still (Coram Boy) - runs to 13 January 2007.
OPENING TUESDAY, Tuesday 28 November 2006 (previews from 23 November) Nina Bawden’s children’s book Carrie's War is staged for the first time at Sadler’s Wells’ Lillian Baylis Theatre. Carrie Willow and her brother Nick are wartime evacuees, billeted to the mining valleys in Wales with old Mr Evans and his kind sister Lou. At Christmas, they are sent to Druid’s Bottom to collect a goose from Mrs Gotobed where they meet Hepzibah the witch and eccentric Mister Johnny, and hear about the curse of an ancient skull. Directed by Andrew Loudon with designs by Edward Lipscomb, Carrie's War is presented by Novel Theatre and runs to 6 January 2007.
OPENING WEDNESDAY, 29 November 2006 (previews from 23 November), Claire Bloom and Billy Zane star in the UK premiere of Richard Alfieri’s American comedy Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks at the West End’s Theatre Royal Haymarket (See News, 9 Oct 2006). The play follows the unlikely acquaintance between a sprightly retiree and her young dance teacher. Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks is directed by Arthur Allan Seidelman, who also directed the 2001 Los Angeles production, and designed by Christopher Woods. It’s presented by TRH Productions and EntPro Plays Inc.
ALSO ON WEDNESDAY (previews from 17 November), the Menier Chocolate factory revives Little Shop of Horrors, with a cast including Sheridan Smith, Paul Keating, Jasper Britton, Barry James and Mike McShane (See News, 22 Sep 2006). Alan Menken and Howard Ashman’s sci-fi spoof musical is loosely based on Roger Corman’s low-budget 1960 film, which was filmed in under a week and featured a young Jack Nicholson in a bit part.
Nerdy orphan Seymour works in Mr Mushnik’s run-down florist shop, along with girl of his dreams Audrey, who is dating a demented dentist. After a solar eclipse, Seymour discovers a peculiar plant with a bloodthirsty appetite, which he names Audrey II. As his infatuation with the real Audrey grows, so does the plant. The production is directed by Matthew White, whose UK premiere of Jason Robert Brown’s The Last Five Years was at the Menier this past summer, and designed by David Farley, who jointly won this year’s Critics’ Circle Best Design for the Menier’s Sunday in the Park with George, which transferred to the West End.
ON FRIDAY, 1 December 2006, nominations for this year’s Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers’ Choice Awards are announced at the annual awards launch party, held this year at Café de Paris in the heart of the West End (See News, 10 Nov 2006). Spamalot’s Lady of the Lake Hannah Waddingham and How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? semi-finalist Abi Finley are amongst the stars who will perform as part of a special concert at the launch of this year’s seventh annual awards, the only major theatre prize-giving to be decided by members of the public. The event also celebrates the tenth birthday of Whatsonstage.com as the UK’s leading theatre website.
** DON’T MISS THE CHANCE TO GET YOUR FAVOURITE PERFORMERS & PRODUCTIONS IN THE SHORTLISTS FOR THE Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers’ Choice Awards! - CLICK HERE TO NOMINATE NOW!!! **
- by Caroline Ansdell