Amongst the major openings this week in London are:

OPENING TONIGHT, Monday 11 December 2006 (previews from 6 December), the South African creators of the Olivier Award-winning Kat and the Kings return to north London’s Tricycle Theatre with the European premiere of Spice Drum Beat - Ghoema, a new musical delving into Cape Town’s early slave history which premiered at Cape Town’s Baxter Theatre last year (See News, 30 Aug 2006). Traditional folk songs are woven together with original music by Kat and the KingsDavid Kramer (who also provides the book and directs) and Taliep Petersen (musical direction). The cast of South African actors and musicians includes: Jody Abrahams, Loukmaan Adams, Danny Butler, Munthir Dullisear, Zenobia Kloppers, Gammie Lakay, Howard Links, Carmen Maarman, Solly Martin and Charlie Rhode.

** DON’T MISS the chance to get 2-for-1 tickets to Spice Drum Beat - Ghoema – offer valid until 23 December only! - click here for more details! **

OPENING WEDNESDAY, 13 December 2006, Rik Mayall brings the stage adaptation of his British TV comedy classic, The New Statesman, to the West End’s Trafalgar Studios for a limited season to 27 January (See News, 13 Nov 2006). Mayall recreates his incarnation as depraved and selfish politician Alan B’Stard in the world premiere stage adaptation of The New Statesman, which was a screen hit for four series from 1987 to 1992. The series’ writers, Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran, have updated the satirical comedy for the stage.

Parliament is in session and, Alan B’stard, former Tory and one of the shining stars of the New Labour, cabinet takes his seat in the House. Despite having a country to run, and regardless of who’s in Number 10, B’Stard is only concerned with joining the Trillionaires’ Club, and he doesn’t care how he gets the membership fee. The New Statesman premiered at the Theatre Royal Brighton on 19 April 2006 and visited 14 other venues on its three-month regional tour. It’s directed by Jennie Darnell and produced by Howard Panter for the Ambassador Theatre Group and David Ian for Live Nation.

** DON’T MISS the chance to see The New Statesman for half-price – offer valid 13 & 14 December only! - click here for more details! **

ALSO ON WEDNESDAY (previews from 7 December), the Royal Shakespeare Company’s now-annual winter West End residency opens at the Novello Theatre with Marianne Elliott’s 1950s Cuba-set production of Much Ado About Nothing, which was seen in rep at Stratford’s Swan Theatre from May to October (See News, 25 Aug 2006). Tamsin Greig and Joseph Millson as warring lovers Beatrice and Benedick. Much Ado continues until 6 January 2007, when it’s followed by Antony and Cleopatra and The Tempest, both with Patrick Stewart.

OPENING THURSDAY, 14 December 2006 (previews from 1 December), The Enchanted Pig receives its world premiere in the main house of the new Young Vic, reopened in October after a two-and-a-half year, £12.45 million makeover (See News, 5 Jul 2006). Based on a Romanian folktale, it tells the story of a princess who seeks to break the spell that’s turned her husband into a smelly pig. The musical Christmas show has music by John Dove and words by Alasdair Middleton. It’s directed by John Fulljames and runs until 27 January 2007.

** DON’T MISS the chance to save £5 on The Enchanted Pig – offer valid until 11 December only! - click here for more details! **

ALSO ON THURSDAY, Matthew Bourne’s legendary staging of Swan Lake, with its all-male corps of swans, return to Sadler’s Wells, where it was first seen in 1995, for a limited Christmas season to 21 January (See News, 6 Sep 2006).

ALSO ON THURSDAY, Slight Return, actor Chas Early’s acclaimed solo show about the late American comedian Bill Hicks, makes a brief return to London for three dates only at the Bloomsbury Theatre.

OPENING FRIDAY, 15 December 2006 (previews from 11 December), Leonard Bernstein’s music and lyrics for Peter Pan have been brought together for the first time as a complete score premiered in a new stage adaptation of JM Barrie’s classic children’s story, at north London’s King’s Head Theatre until 14 January (See News, 1 Nov 2006). Peter Pan is the first in-house production at the King’s Head since founder Dan Crawford’s death last summer (See News, 14 Jul 2005). The piece is adapted and directed by his widow Stephanie Sinclaire.

- by Terri Paddock