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World Cup Antidote: Top Ten Theatre Reasons to Be Cheerful

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In our spot poll last week, nearly 73% of Whatsonstage.com readers said they'd rather be watching a great play or musical than the World Cup. After England's display yesterday, it would seem they had the right idea! But whether you're a football fan or not, there are still plenty of theatrical reasons to be cheerful. Here’s our current top ten...

  • Whatsonstage.com Outings - If you haven’t yet been on one of our famous Whatsonstage.com Outings, now is the perfect time to try them out. In addition to the opportunity to mix and mingle (and perhaps commiserate if you’re a sports fan), the Outings get you top shows at great prices with lots of value-added extras as well, such as post-show Q&As or receptions, free drinks, free programmes and so on.

    Amongst the fantastic productions we’ve got coming up on our Outings schedule are: Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson’s thriller Ghost Stories; pop legend David Essex in his self-penned musical All the Fun of the Fair; Over the Rainbow finalist Steph Fearon’s stage debut in Lieber and Stoller revue Smokey Joe's Cafe; the Soho-set, in-yer-face version of Puccini’s La boheme; and screen-to-stage blockbuster Flashdance. For details and booking links to all Outings, click here.

    For other great ticket slashing opportunities on Whatsonstage.com, have a browse through the Discounts, Meal Deals and Tickets for Tonight sections of our Online Ticket Shop or call our Whatsonstage.com Ticket Line on 020 7492 1565.

  • Travelex £10 Tickets Season - Now in its eighth year, the Travelex-sponsored season at the National Theatre means that you can see top NT productions for as little as £10, with other seats in the auditorium capped at £30. This year’s season includes current productions of Middleton’s Women Beware Women (finishes 4 July) and Moira Buffini’s Welcome to Thebes and, opening next month, Danton's Death, starring Toby Stephens and marking Michael Grandage’s NT directorial debut.

  • Great weather for open-air delights - Balmy temperatures make open-air theatre an unmissable treat this summer. Strong seasons are underway at London’s leading open-air landmarks, the Open Air Theatre in Regent’s Park and Shakespeare's Globe at Bankside, and there are scads of free offerings at the likes of The Scoop at City Hall and the National’s riverside Watch This Space festival.

  • E4 Udderbelly & Edinburgh previews - Further along the South Bank, you can’t miss the gigantic upside down purple cow grazing in the gardens nearby the London Eye. You can pop inside for a wide-ranging and eclectic programme of theatre, music and stand-up – including dance and football extravaganza Brazil! Brazil!, which reminds us that, while the English may have invented football, it’s the Brazilians who have perfected it – and then soak up the sun outside over beers in the adjacent Cow Pasture. The Udderbelly’s London season also reminds us that the Edinburgh Fringe, the world’s largest arts festival, is just around the corner – and that’s always something to be proud of...

  • Tricycle cycles - Another great source of theatrical pride for Londoners has to be the mighty Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn, which has become famous in particular for its hard-hitting cycles of top-notch, often highly political drama. The current cycle Women, Power and Politics - a dozen short plays examining the dearth of females in government – is followed by the return of last year’s three-part hit, Afghanistan – The Great Game.

  • There’s still time to see Hair – & Oliver! - Despite sensational reviews when it opened in April, Broadway import Hair posted closing notices at the West End’s Gielgud Theatre, but you’ve still got until 4 September to catch Diane Paulus’ stunning reinvention of the 1960s counter-culture classic performed by its irresistibly exuberant all-American cast. And you’ve got a little more leeway still – until 8 January – to see another top-of-the-range Cameron Mackintosh production that’s recently announced its closing date, the mega revival of British musical classic of Lionel Bart’s Oliver! starring Kerry Ellis and Russ Abbot at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane.

  • Clockwise from top left: Whatsonstage.com Outing to Sweet Charity, La Bete poster, Jeff Goldblum, Hair, the Udderbelly (background, Regent's Park Open Air Theatre)

  • Mark Rylance is on stage again – Even if you were one of the unlucky scores who couldn’t get a ticket to Jerusalem for love nor money, you can still see its Olivier, Critics’ Circle and Evening Standard award-winning star Mark Rylance on stage this year. He’s back treading the boards, alongside Joanna Lumley and Frasier’s David Hyde Pierce in Matthew Warchus’ revival of David Hirson’s Moliere-inspired comedy La Bete, which is at the Comedy Theatre for limited West End season until 28 August ahead of an immediate Broadway transfer.

  • The Bridge Project – Meanwhile, two productions which have crossed the Atlantic the other way, this year’s Bridge Project offerings of Shakespeare’s As You Like It and The Tempest, provide theatregoers with a somewhat rare opportunity to remember what a great stage director Sam Mendes is and to see his superb Anglo-American company, led by Stephen Dillane and Juliet Rylance (step-daughter of Mark) in Shakespearean action.

    ** DON’T MISS our Whatsonstage.com Outing to AS YOU LIKE IT on 5 August 2010 - including a FREE drink & FREE programme, all for £35!! - click here to buy now! **

  • Hollywood still loves us – If you need further proof that Americans, and Hollywood more specifically, still loves us, despite World Cup clashes and the BP oil spill, look no further than the West End’s Vaudeville Theatre where two big Hollywood stars, Jeff Goldblum and Mercedes Ruehl, will be spending the summer in Terry Johnson’s revival of Neil Simon’s New York comedy The Prisoner of Second Avenue, the first Old Vic production to originate in the West End beyond its own address.

    ** DON’T MISS our Whatsonstage.com Outing to THE PRISONER OF SECOND AVENUE on 14 July 2010 - including a FREE programme, all for £35!! - click here to buy now! **

  • Whatsonstage.com Theatre Club – Last but not least, the best investment around for avid theatregoers, has got to be our own Whatsonstage.com Theatre Club. Benefits of the Club include: priority, discounted booking on all of our Whatsonstage.com Outings; group rates on other Club Nights; a subscription to our bi-monthly print title, What’s On Stage magazine; regular FREE ticket promotions all year round; and lots of other bar, restaurant, hotel, drink and programme offers. Annual membership costs just £30 if you pay by direct debit (£35 if you’re paying by card). But, in celebration of this year’s West End Live earlier this month – which was rather more successful than England’s World Cup campaign – we’ve extended our 50% off event promotion, which means you can join the Club right now for only £15!! You can access the promo code by registering via our West End Live microsite.
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