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Top Five: Biblical Shows for Easter

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In case the looming bank holidays hadn't tipped you off, Easter 2011 is this Sunday 24 April. Here's our run-down of the five shows best suited to help you find your religion, or at least contemplate it, this Easter week.

Shakespeare's Globe, Bankside

If you want your biblical message undiluted, head to Shakespeare's Globe this week. The theatre is celebrating this year's 400th anniversary of the King James Bible with a mammoth unstaged, cover-to-cover reading of the text this Easter week. The reading - presented by a team of actors over 12 sessions - started yesterday, Palm Sunday (17 April) and contines through to Easter Monday (25 April). For a list of the sessions, please click here.

Union Theatre, Southwark

Here's a well-timed Easter treat. The Union continues its roll of musical treats with the 40th anniversary revival of Stephen Schwartz's hippy Broadway classic. With a book by John-Michael Tebelak, then a college student, Godspell is based on the gospel according to St Matthew, opening with John the Baptist gathering up followers and concluding with Jesus' crucifixion in a junkyard. The production, running until 7 May 2011, reunites the creative team behind the Union’s recent revival of Sondheim’s Assassins, Michael Strassen (director) and Michael Bradley (musical director). The Godspell score includes "Day by Day", "All Good Gifts" and "Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord".

New Wimbledon Theatre

Another Bible-based tuner from the Seventies, this one, of course, hails from the British writing partnership of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. It retells the story of Joseph, his uncanny dream-interpreting abilities, his designer coat and the troubles it causes with his 11 jealous brothers. The score includes "Close Every Door" and "Any Dream Will Do". This production continues to tour extensively following its long West End run with Lee Mead in the title role, and now stars Mead's Any Dream Will Do reality TV competitor Keith Jack. It touches down for family fun in Wimbledon this Easter week, from 19 to 23 April only.

Barbican Centre

Italian theatremaker Romeo Castellucci had planned to present his epic new, iconoclastic piece The Minister's Black Veil over Easter weekend at the Barbican, but pulled it because he felt it wasn't ready. This last-minute replacement also has a religious theme, no less controversial. An exploration of the idea of Jesus as an icon, the play unfolds in front of a giant Renaissance image of Christ and employs Castellucci's signature theatrical language to call into question mystical and theological manifestations in unsettling fashion. It runs this Easter weekend only, with performances from Thursday 21 April to Saturday 23 April. Click here for further details.

Port Talbot, Wales

Multi award-winning stage and screen star Michael Sheen returns to his home town to direct and star in this massive communal play, which takes place across the town and involves a thousand local volunteers as well as 13 other professional actors. The three-day, non-stop event, produced by National Theatre Wales, builds on a tradition which saw a passion play staged in the town every year until 1998. Sheen recalls: "I first saw the Passion Play at Port Talbot when I was about 12. It was a story I knew coming to life in front of me. A ritual taking place before me. A town remembering itself through a story." This new version, scripted by Owen Sheers and co-directed by Kneehigh's Bill Mitchell, commences this Good Friday afternoon (22 April) and ends on Easter Sunday evening (24 April).

WITH THANKS TO: Contributors from the Whatsonstage.com Discussion Forum, including Mark_E, armadillo and Minsky.


And if you fancy another type of theatrical outing on Easter Sunday in London, here's a reminder of current West End shows with Sunday performances - follow the links to book tickets now.

  • GHOST STORIES - Duke of York's Theatre - 17:00
  • JERSEY BOYS - Prince Edward Theatre - 15:00
  • STOMP - Ambassadors Theatre- 15:00
  • THE HURLY BURLY SHOW - Garrick Theatre - 17:00 & 19:00
  • THE LION KING - Lyceum Theatre - 14:30
  • THE WIZARD OF OZ - London Palladium - 15:00
  • THRILLER LIVE! - Lyric Theatre - 15:30
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