There’s a sudden (and welcome) respite from the endless onslaught of London openings over the next fortnight: I can only find a handful of them, so I’m conflating them into one blog to cover the fortnight.
It also gives one time to pause and catch breath, of course, before the September rush begins all over again!
On Tuesday (August 20), Youth Music Theatre UK (YMT) premiere According to Brian Haw, a new musical based around the life of the anti-war campaigner Brian Haw who camped outside the Houses of Parliament for 11 years, before dying in 2011. Written by James Atherton and Sarah Nelson, who have worked with Haw’s son Pete, and directed by Ellie Jones, it runs at Riverside Studios for three nights only to August 22.
Later in the week, YMT also present the premiere of The Dark Tower, a new commission from Irish composer Conor Mitchell, written as a response to the 1946 radio play that was scored by Benjamin Britten. It runs at Riverside from Saturday 24 to Monday 26.
On Friday (August 23), Clive Francis stars in his own adaptation of Ben Travers’s rarely-seen 1927 farce Thark at the Park Theatre. The last London production at Lyric Hammersmith was due to transfer to the Savoy Theatre but it sadly burnt down before it opened. Let’s hope the same fate doesn’t befall the Park!
On Wednesday (August 28), the world premiere of a new British-written musical Bonnie & Clyde takes place at the King’s Head, from the same team behind last year’s The Great Gatsby Musical, director Linnie Reedman with music and lyrics by Joe Evans, that was also seen at the King’s Head. It is, of course, not to be confused with the Frank Wildhorn version that briefly played on Broadway in 2011.
On Thursday (August 29), director-turned-plawright Jessica Swale premieres Blue Stockings at Shakespeare’s Globe, which tells the story of four young women fighting for their rights to education and self-determination as undergraduates at Cambridge’s Girton College in the 1890s.
Also on Thursday, the first of this year’s post-Edinburgh transfers arrives at London’s Gate Theatre when George Brant’s Grounded opens, after winning a Fringe First during its season at the Traverse Theatre earlier this month. In this solo play, directed by the Gate’s artistic director Christopher Haydon, Lucy Ellison plays a pregnant F16 fighter pilot who now flies reomote-controlled zones over Pakinstan from an air-conditioned trailer in Las Vegas.
Also on Thursday, another Edinburgh transfer from the Traverse will see Tim Price’s I’m with the Band move to the St James Theatre Studio, which teams the playwright up again with director Hamish Pirie who previously collaborated on Salt, Root and Roe as part of the Dnmar Trafalgar season.
Also on Thursday, Will Young reprises his Olivier nominated turn as the Emcee in the Rufus Norris production of Kander and Ebb’s Cabaret, launching a national tour that opens officially to the press at Wimbledon Theatre. Matt Rawle, Linal Haft and Nicholas Tizzard also return as Clifford Bradshaw, Herr Schultz and Ernst from the production’s last outing at the Savoy Theatre, and they are newly joined by Siobhan Dillon as Sally Bowles, with Lyn Paul as Fraulein Schneider.
On Friday (August 30), a third transfer from Edinburgh sees Morgana and Agememnon, which are currently playing at C Nova through August 26, move to open at Southwark Playhouse. It is described as an “immersive reimagining of classic legends.”
On Saturday (August 31), it’s the last chance to see A Chorus Line at the London Palladium, Sweet Bird of Youth at the Old Vic and The Cripple of Inishmaan at the Noel Coward, plus Titanic at the Southwark Playhouse.
Also on Saturday, Ewan Wardrop’s Formby launches a 23 venue national tour at Hackney Empire. The show charts George Formby’s rise from awkward stable boy to one of Britain’s biggest stars.