Amongst the major London openings taking place this week are:

OPENING TUESDAY, 2 December 2003 (previews from 12 November), (See News, 8 Oct 2003), Steven Berkoff's controversial re-interpretation of the New Testament, Messiah - Scenes from a Crucifixion, receives its belated West End premiere at the Old Vic, where it's booking to 3 January. Greg Hicks plays the title role with Berkoff, who also directs, tackling Satan.

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ALSO ON TUESDAY at west London's Lyric Hammersmith (previews from 28 November), Cinderella receives a makeover care of Théâtre de la Ville director Dan Jemmett, whose new adaptation sets the classic fairy tale in a run-down fairground. The family Christmas production continues until 10 January 2004.

OPENING WEDNESDAY, 3 December 2003 (previews from 21 November), David Almond's stage adaptation of Whitbread Award-winning children's book Skellig premieres at the Young Vic, in a production directed by former NT and RSC artistic director Trevor Nunn and starring David Threlfall in the title role of a curious creature a young boy finds in his garage. Skellig continues at the Young Vic until 31 January 2004. The production is designed by John Napier (See News, 12 Jun 2003).

OPENING THURSDAY, 5 December 2003 (previews from 4 December), another children's show just in time for Christmas, Barbara Norden's Meteorite, premieres at north London's Hampstead Theatre, where it continues to 3 January 2004. With mum gone away, it's up to Dad to take the kids Christmas shopping. Aimed at 7- to 11-year-olds, Meteorite is the first play for children presented in Hampstead's main auditorium and marks the beginning of the theatre's policy to produce original plays for children.

- by Terri Paddock