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Hampstead Theatre unveils star cast for da Costa play

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Hampstead Theatre has announced the cast and creative team for its world premiere production of Simon Mendes da Costa’s new comedy Losing Louis.

The cast will include Lynda Bellingham, Jason Durr, David Horovitch, Brian Protheroe and Alison Steadman, who will be directed by Robin Lefevre with design by Liz Ascroft and lighting by Mick Hughes. Lefevere is a former associate director of Hampstead Theatre and directed the theatre’s production of Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me, which later transferred to Broadway.

Losing Louis will be the writer’s second main staged play. His first, Table for One, was produced at The Hen and Chickens Theatre in Islington. He was recently commissioned to write a play for The Heat and Light Company, Hampstead Theatre’s youth theatre group, which was produced in the theatre’s studio space earlier this year. His new play will run from January 20 to February 19, with a press night on January 24.

It will be followed at the Hampstead by Primo, Antony Sher’s adaptation of If This is a Man by Primo Levi. It transfers to the theatre after a sell-out season at the National’s Cottesloe Theatre and will run from February 23 to March 19.

The production, starring Sher, will be directed by Richard Wilson, with design by Hildegard Bechtler, lighting by Paul Pyant, music by Jonathan Goldstein and sound by Rich Walsh.

* The Royal Shakespeare Company is to transfer three of its Spanish Golden Age plays to the West End in the new year. The Dog in the Manger by Lope de Vegas, The House of Desires by Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz and Pedro the Great Pretender by Miguel de Cervantes will play in weekly repertoire with the original ensemble cast for ten weeks at The Playhouse theatre from January to March. Precise dates are yet to be confirmed.

Two plays from the RSC’s inaugural New Work Festival will also transfer to London. Midwinter by Zinnie Harris and Poor Beck by Joanna Laurens will play in repertoire for three weeks from March 2 at the Soho Theatre, along with Nowhere to Belong: Tales of an Extravagant Stranger, performed and written by journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown.

* The Royal Court theatre has announced that its spring 2005 season will include Tim Fountain: Sex Addict – Fountain’s one man show about cyber dating, which he performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. It will open at the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs on January 10 with previews from January 6. It will be followed by Laura Wade’s new play Breathing Corpses which will preview from February 24 and open on February 29.

Meanwhile, at the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs, April de Angelis’ new play Wild East will run from February 1, followed by Debbie Tucker Green’s Stoning Mary, which previews from April 1 and opens on April 5. The season will conclude with My Name is Rachel Corrie directed by Alan Rickman, a play about an American protester who was killed by a bulldozer as she protected a Palestinian home, which uses many of Corrie’s own writings. It will open on April 14 after previews from April 7. John Mortimer, president of the Royal Court, will also appear at the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs on January 19 performing Mortimer’s Miscellany, a collection of stories, anecdotes, music, poetry and newspaper articles.

* The Royal Albert Hall will play host to the fifth anniversary gala performance of The Night of 1,000 Voices on May 1, 2005. The performance, in aid of the Caron Keating Foundation and the Alan Jey Lerner Fund for Cancer Research, will involve 900 members of the Sing Live (UK) choir and the City of London Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as international guest stars, to be announced in January.

Previous special guests who have performed at the event since 1999 include Glenn Close, Michael Crawford, David Essex and Roger Moore. This year’s production will be conducted by David Firman and directed by Hugh Wooldridge.

* Michael French will star as Billy Flynn and Josefina Gabrielle will return as Roxie Hart in the West End musical Chicago from December 13. French, who starred as David Wicks in Eastenders and Gabrielle, who reprises her role from the May 2000 and March 2001 seasons, will replace John Barrowman and Jennifer Ellison when they leave the show on completion of their contracts. They will join Anna-Jane Casey as Velma Kelly, Paul Baker as Amos Hart and Sharon D Clarke as Mama Morton at the Adelphi Theatre.

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