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Top 5 theatre openings this week: 17 - 23 October

We round up the productions and performances you should be booking for this week

Hal Fowler and the company of A Pacifist's Guide To The War On Cancer
© Mark Douet

5) A Pacifist's Guide to the War on Cancer

19 October to 29 October, Dorfman Theatre - NT

This brand new musical from the brilliant Bryony Kimmings, Brian Lobel and Tom Parkinson provides a whistlestop tour through life with a cancer diagnosis.

Kimmings directs a cast including Amy Booth-Steel, Francesca Mills and Gareth Snook.

Rufus Hound as Toad in The Wind in the Willows
(© Marc Brenner/Jamie Hendry Productions)

4) The Wind in the Willows

19 to 22 October, Theatre Royal Plymouth (then tours to Salford and Southampton)

Another new musical, this time an adaptation of Kenneth Grahame's tale from Julian Fellowes (Downton Abbey) and Stiles and Drewe (Mary Poppins, Half a Sixpence).

Rufus Hound takes on Toad alongside Fra Fee as Mole, Thomas Howes as Ratty and Neil McDermott as Chief Weasel.

Patrycja Kujawska, Audrey Brisson, Louis Maskell, Julian Bleach and Gloria Onitiri
© Simon Annand

3) The Grinning Man

20 October to 13 November, Bristol Old Vic

This is obviously the week for new musicals as Carl Grose, Tim Phillips and Marc Teitler's new tragicomic musical based on Victor Hugo's The Man Who Laughs premieres at the Bristol Old Vic.

Tom Morris directs this macabre musical about Stokes Croft fair, a grotesque oasis of entertainment, with a cast including Sean Kingsley, Louis Maskell and Gloria Onitiri.

2) The Red Barn

From 17 October, Lyttelton Theatre - NT

Mark Strong leads the cast of Robert Icke's production alongside Hope Davis and Anna Skellern.

Expect to hold onto your seats in David Hare's adaptation of the great detective writer Georges Simenon's psychological thriller, La Main.

1) Ragtime

17 October to 10 December, Charing Cross Theatre

Following the success of his production of Titanic, Charing Cross Theatre's new artistic director Thom Southerland presents a revival of Terrence McNally, Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty's Tony Award-winning musical about three communities coming together as one.

Ako Mitchell's performance as Coalhouse Walker Jr is reason enough to check out this intimate, actor-muso production, but the stellar cast also includes Anita Louise Combes (Chicago, Saturday Night Fever), Earl Carpenter (Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera) and Gary Tushaw (Sunset Boulevard, Les Miserables).