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Extensions: 39 Steps, Into the Hoods, ENO Candide

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As the Broadway production this week celebrated its six Tony Award nominations (See News, 13 May 2008), the West End production of The 39 Steps announced another four-month extension at the Criterion Theatre, where it’s now booking through to 7 February 2009.

The opening of the new booking period coincides with a new “Best of British” partnership struck between The 39 Steps and luxury brands Mackintosh and Globe-Trotter, whose raincoats and suitcases featured in the original 1935 Alfred Hitchcock film of the John Buchan whodunit and will now be featured in Patrick Barlow’s stage adaptation.

The play, which won Best New Comedy at last year’s Olivier and Whatsonstage.com Awards, started life at the West Yorkshire Playhouse (in June 2005), then had its London premiere at the Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn before opening in the West End on 20 September 2006 (previews from 14 September). In The 39 Steps, four actors play “150 roles” between them to tell the tale of London bachelor Richard Hannay fleeing to Scotland and breaking a spy ring to prove his innocence after a woman is found murdered in his home. The current West End cast is Jo Stone-Fewing (as Hannay), Josefina Gabrielle (pictured with Stone-Fewings), Martyn Ellis and Simon Gregor. Maria Aitken directs.

At the London Coliseum (See News, 11 Mar 2008), ahead of its opening on 25 June 2008 (previews from 23 June), English National Opera has added two extra dates for its epic new production of Leonard Bernstein’s 1956 Broadway musical Candide. The production will now have 15 performances in total, with the new shows added on 2 and 11 July.

Tenor Toby Spence takes the title role in a cast that also features National Theatre stalwart Alex Jennings making his opera house debut as Dr Pangloss/Voltaire and Beverley Klein as the Old Woman (See News, 9 Jan 2008). The role of Cunegonde will be shared by Americans Anna Christy and Marnie Breckenridge.

Based on Voltaire’s novel, Candide tells the story of a young man determined to cling to his instructor’s philosophy that "all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds" despite the many tragedies that he encounters. This co-production was mounted at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris back in 2006 and at La Scala in Milan last year. It’s directed by Robert Carsen, choreographed by Rob Ashford (Parade) and designed by Michael Levine. Rumon Gamba conducts.

And at the West End’s Novello Theatre, Into the Hoods has confirmed its final three-month extension, taking its bookings up to 30 August (See News, 8 Feb 2008). A hit for the past two summers at the Edinburgh Fringe, the show had its West End premiere on 26 March 2008 (previews from 14 March) and was initially booking until 10 May.

A hip-hop version of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods, Into the Hoods follows two children lost in the ‘hood’. The show is directed and choreographed by Kate Prince and performed by a cast of 19 adults and nine children (three on stage). The company, ZooNation, employs its trademark narrative street dance/theatre style against a backdrop of music from the Gorillaz, Massive Attack, Prince, Basement Jaxx and others. It’s produced by Phil McIntyre and Adam Speers.

Into the Hoods makes way at the Novello for the Eurovision spoof musical Eurobeat, which, following a regional tour, receives its West End premiere on 9 September 2008 (previews from 4 September). In the West End, Les Dennis and Mel Giedroyc will play the competition’s Bosnian hosts, Boyka and Sergei, in the interactive musical in which the audience votes via text for each night’s winner (See News, 13 May 2008).

- by Terri Paddock


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