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Opening: Wizard, Trace, Naked, Shadow & Stritch

Amongst the major openings in London this week are:

OPENING TONIGHT, Monday 28 July 2008 (previews from 23 July), Bola Agbaje’s debut play Gone Too Far! moves into the Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Downstairs for a run to 9 August as part of the Court’s “Upstairs/Downstairs” season (See News, 19 Feb 2008). The play about two brothers, one from a south London estate and the other from Nigeria, won this year’s Laurence Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre following its 2007 premiere in the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs. After Sloane Square, it will visit the Albany Centre in Deptford, south London, and Hackney Empire in east London.

OPENING TUESDAY, 29 July 2008 (previews from 23 July), Southbank Centre artistic director Jude Kelly revives The Wizard of Oz, the 1989 stage musical version of L Frank Baum’s original story, for a summer season to 31 August 2008 at the Royal Festival Hall (See News, 26 Mar 2008). The 50-strong cast is led by Sian Brooke, making her musical debut as Dorothy, alongside former Royal Ballet principal Adam Cooper as the Tin Man, Gary Wilmot as the Cowardly Lion, Hilton McRae as the Scarecrow, Roy Hudd as the Wizard and Julie Legrand as the Wicked Witch of the West.

OPENING WEDNESDAY, 30 July 2008 (previews from 23 July), …some trace of her, inspired by Dostoyevsky’s 1869 Russian novel The Idiot, premieres at the National Theatre, where it joins the NT Cottesloe rep (See News, 7 Apr 2008). It’s adapted and directed by Katie Mitchell and her company, including Ben Whishaw and Hattie Morahan, with multimedia design by Leo Warner and Vicki Mortimer.

OPENING THURSDAY, 31 July 2008 (previews from 24 July), the National’s second world premiere of the week, Rebecca Lenkiewicz’s Suffragette drama Her Naked Skin, is the final production in Travelex season in the NT Olivier and the first new play written by a woman to premiere on the National’s 1,100-seat main stage. Lesley Manville stars as Lady Celia Cain, an upper-class woman trapped in a frustrating marriage in 1913 London who, while serving time in Holloway prison as part of the emancipation fight, begins an erotic relationship with a young seamstress. Howard Davies directs.

ALSO ON THURSDAY, octogenarian Broadway legend Elaine Stritch returns to London with Tony Award-winning one-woman show Elaine Stritch at Liberty, which runs until 10 August 2008 at the Shaw Theatre (See News, 7 Apr 2008). In the show, devised by John Lahr and first seen in London at the Old Vic in 2002, Stritch recounts personal experiences from her long career in a mix of anecdotes and live music.

ALSO ON THURSDAY (preview 30 July), Clean Break presents Chloe Moss’ This Wide Night, a play about two women trying to start again on release from prison, at Soho Theatre until 9 August 2008. The production, directed by Lucy Morrison, then visits Newcastle and Plymouth before embarking on a prisons tour.

ALSO ON THURSDAY (previews from 29 July), Susan Claassen stars as the eponymous Oscar-winning costume designer in the one-woman play A Conversation With Edith Head, which she adapted from the autobiography Edith Head\'s Hollywood (See News, 25 Jun 2008). After the premature closure of the Arts Theatre, where it was originally scheduled to run, the production has now been moved to the studio space in the relaunched Leicester Square Theatre (formerly The Venue), where it continues until 30 August.

OPENING FRIDAY, 1 August 2008 (preview 31 July), the Steam Industry’s sixth annual season of free theatre at The Scoop at More London near Tower Bridge opens with Phil Willmott’s revival of Lorca’s 1933 classic Blood Wedding (See News, 11 Jun 2008). It runs in repertory, with performances Wednesday to Sunday, at the 850-seat open-air amphitheatre until 7 September 2008.

- by Terri Paddock


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