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Opening: Guard, Mrs Warren, Steps & Shirley Jones

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Amongst the major London openings - in the West End and further afield - this week are:

OPENING TONIGHT, Monday 22 March 2010 (previews from 17 March), Raz Shaw and Georgina Lamb’s latest physical collaboration Gambling, based on first-hand accounts of addicts, comes to Soho Theatre for a run to 10 April

OPENING TUESDAY, 23 March 2010 (previews from 15 March), Howard Davies directs Andrew Upton’s new version of Bulgakov’s rarely performed Russian masterpiece, The White Guard, at the National Theatre, where it runs in rep in the NT Lyttelton. First written as a novel in 1926, The White Guard was turned into the play, originally titled The Days of the Turbins, that was also banned during Bulgakov’s lifetime.

The near-farcical story follows the fortunes of the Turbin family from 1918, as the opposing forces in the Russian civil war and the Ukrainian peasants fight over the city of Kiev. Bulgakov’s 1928 epic Flight, about the exodus of White Russian émigrés after the war, was staged at the NT in 1998. The cast of The White Guard includes Conleth Hill, Pip Carter, Paul Higgins and Justine Mitchell.

ALSO ON TUESDAY (preview 22 March), veteran Hollywood and Broadway leading lady Shirley Jones makes her West End and UK debut at the Arts Theatre next month, performing with her son Patrick Cassidy in Shirley Jones in Concert until 3 April. Jones, who was dubbed "the first lady of American song" by Bob Hope, shot to fame in 1955, when Rodgers and Hammerstein cast her as Laurie in the movie version of Oklahoma!. She followed this with the films of The Music Man and Carousel, before winning the 1960 Oscar for Elmer Gantry. On TV, she was the matriarch of The Partridge Family, and her Broadway credits include South Pacific, Maggie Flynn and 42nd Street.

OPENING WEDNESDAY, 24 March 2010 (previews from 18 March), Cheek by Jowl, in association with barbicanbite10, present their new English-language production of Macbeth, directed by Declan Donnellan and starring Will Keen in the title role and Anastasia Hille as Lady Macbeth. It’s at the Barbican’s recently opened 400-seat Silk Street Theatre until 10 April 2010 as part of an international tour.

OPENING THURSDAY, 25 March 2010 (previews from 16 March), Felicity Kendal takes the title role in Michael Rudman’s revival of George Bernard Shaw’s Mrs Warren's Profession at the West End’s Comedy Theatre, where it’s booking for a limited season until 19 June. Written in 1894 but not performed until 1902, Mrs Warren's Profession was one of Shaw's most provocative plays. In it, serious-minded Cambridge graduate Vivie Warren discovers how her mother turned to prostitution to fund their family's comfortable lifestyle.

OPENING FRIDAY, 26 March 2010 (previews from 24 March), Alan Ayckbourn revives his own 1979 comedy Taking Steps, set on three floors of a crumbling house over 24 mad-cap hour, at the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond, south London, where it runs until 29 May 2010. The cast includes Matthew Cottle, Anna Francolini and Michael Simkins. Ayckbourn's Private Fears in Public Places played at the Orange Tree on its way to New York, but this is the first production he has directed especially for the theatre.


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