Get our free email newsletter with just one click

Production news round-up: Lenny Henry to star in August Wilson’s King Hedley II and Martin Kemp cast in Chicago

Lenny Henry will star in King Hedley II at Theatre Royal Stratford East in London in 2019 Lenny Henry will star in King Hedley II at Theatre Royal Stratford East in London in 2019
by -

This week we learned that Andrew Scott will appear in a limited run of Simon Stephen’s monologue Sea Wall at the Old Vic, while Martin Kemp will replace Cuba Gooding Jr in Chicago. In other news, a devised play unites actors in London and Gaza via streamed video, while Brexit negotiations and environmental catastrophe are the subjects of recently announced Edinburgh Fringe shows.


Andrew Scott reprises his role in Simon Stephens‘ monologue Sea Wall at London’s Old Vic, which he first performed in 2008 at the Bush Theatre. The limited run from June 18 to June 30 is part of the theatre’s bicentenary season.
Director: George Perrin
Producer: Paines Plough

Andrew Scott to reprise role in Simon Stephens’ Sea Wall for Old Vic run

Lenny Henry has been cast in King Hedley II at Theatre Royal Stratford East. It will be the first time Henry has performed at the east London theatre. The play runs from May 17 to June 16, 2019, with press night on May 23.
Author: August Wilson
Director: Nadia Fall
Producer: Theatre Royal Stratford East
Read original story here

The full casting for the Royal Shakespeare Company’s The Merry Wives of Windsor includes Beth Cordingly as Mistress Ford and Rebecca Lacey as Mistress Page, who will join David Troughton as Sir John Falstaff.
Author: William Shakespeare
Director: Fiona Laird
Design: Lez Brotherston, Tim Mitchell (lighting), and Gregory Clarke (sound)
Cast includes: David Acton, Afolabi Alli, Stevie Basaula, Ishia Bennison, Katy Brittain, Jonathon Cullen, Paul Dodds, Josh Finan, Karen Fishwick, Charlotte Josephine, Vince Leigh, John Macauley, Luke Newberry, Tom Padley, Sakuntala Ramanee, Tim Samuels, Nima Taleghani

Maxine Peake’s new play Queens of the Coal Age runs from June 28 to July 28 at Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre and Stoke-on-Trent’s New Vic Theatre. The play recounts the occupation of the Parkside Colliery in Newton-Le-Willows.
Director: Bryony Shanahan
Design: Georgia Lowe, Elliot Griggs (lighting), Pete Malkin (sound)
Cast includes: Kate Anthony, Jane Hazlegrove, Danielle Henry, Eve Robertson
Producer: Royal Exchange Theatre and New Vic Theatre

Gavin and Stacey’s Mathew Horne and Downton Abbey’s Ed Speleers are to star in the Classic Screen to Stage Theatre Company’s production of Rain Man. The show will tour the UK from August 21 to November 24, visiting locations including Windsor, Edinburgh, Derby, Brighton and Northampton.
Author: Dan Gordon
Director: Jonathan O’Boyle
Producer: Bill Kenwright

Mathew Horne to star in stage adaptation of Rain Man

Soho Theatre’s Edinburgh Fringe programme will include the UK premiere of Underground Railroad Game at the Traverse, which examines race, sex and power politics in the US; Karen Cogan’s Drip Feed, a play about being young, female and queer in Ireland in the 1990s, at Assembly George Square; and The Political History of Smack and Crack, writer Ed Edwards’ debut play about the heroine epidemic in Thatcher’s Britain.

Army@TheFringe returns in partnership with Summerhall to Hepburn House drill hall for the Edinburgh Fringe following its debut at the festival last year. Among the shows programmed by the army this year are Akademi’s The Troth, a dance theatre show about soldiers from the Punjab (Pakistan/India) fighting in the First World War, and InValid Voices, a piece based on interviews with women serving as or married to soldiers in the Commonwealth.

The Troth will feature as part of Army at the Fringe. Photo: Simon Richardson

The Pleasance Theatre has revealed the final shows in its Edinburgh Fringe programme. The highlights include Brexit, a new play by Robert Khan and Tom Salinsky set in 2020 in the final stages of negotiations; A Sockful of Custard which celebrates Spike Milligan; and Let’s Inherit the Earth, a Nordic comedy about global warming and mass extinction.

Manchester’s HOME theatre’s annual Orbit Festival will run from October 23 to November 3. Highlights include Selina Thompson’s Salt, based on the experiences of two artists who retraced the routes of the transatlantic slave triangle; Dante or Die’s User Not Found, a multimedia performance that explores what happens to our online footprint when we die; and Milk Presents’ Bullish, which uses the minotaur myth as a metaphor for modern gender fluidity.

Hull Truck Theatre’s comedy drama season includes The Wardrobe Ensemble’s Education, Education, Education (June 5 to 6) which takes place in a secondary school in May 1997; LipService Productions’ Mr Darcy Loses the Plot (June 8 to June 9) which follows Jane Austen’s characters as they hop between different classic literary texts; and An Evening of Eric and Ern (June 16), a homage to Morecambe and Wise.

Theatre Royal Bath’s summer season will feature David Suchet in the 50th anniversary production of Arthur Miller’s The Price; Amanda Abbington and Elizabeth McGovern in the 10th anniversary production of Yasmina Reza’s God of Carnage; and Robert Lindsay and Tara Fitzgerald in Terence Rattigan’s In Praise of Love.

At Home in Gaza and London, a devised show, which uses live streaming and recorded video to unite actors in London and Gaza, will be performed simultaneously at London’s Battersea Arts Centre and a theatre in Gaza from June 28 to July 1.
Directors: Julian Maynard Smith and Taghrid Choucair-Vizoso
Design: Enrico Aurigemma (sound), Alastair Armstrong (lighting)
Cast includes: Aya Abdelrahman, Abeer Ahmed, Tara Fatehi Irani, Ali Hassany, Yoko Ishiguro, Mariam Nasser, Hamza Saftawy, Walid Tafesh, Owl Young
Producer: Station House Opera

One-man musical comedy Drip by Tom Wells heads to the Edinburgh Fringe, and will play at Paines Plough’s Roundabout @ Summerhall from August 20 to August 26. The show debuted as part of the Hull UK City of Culture, and follows the adventures of a 15 year-old who joins a synchronised swimming team without being able to swim.
Music: Matthew Robins
Director: Jane Fallowfield
Design: Russ Henry, Adam Foley (lighting), Matthew Robins (sound)
Cast includes: Adam Finnigan
Producers: Script Club and Boundless Theatre

The Faction will bring its interpretation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream to Wilton’s Music Hall in London June 26 to 30, with press night on June 27.
Author: William Shakespeare
Director: Mark Leipacher
Producer: Rachel Valentine Smith

Summerhall in Edinburgh has announced 120 shows for its seventh year at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The venue will play host to companies and producers including Paines Plough, the Actors Touring Company, Sh!t Theatre, Le Gateau Chocolat, China Plate, Canada Hub, Army @ the Fringe, Rose Bruford College, and The BBC. Highlights include Tetra-Decathlon directed by Jenna Watt, Magnetic North’s Erewhon, Status by Chris Thorpe and Rachel Chavkin, and Fallen Fruit from Two Destination Language.

An immersive adaptation of George Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London will be performed at Senate House, University of London, on June 6. Down and Out will also be performed in Paris in September, with both performances to be live streamed. Viewing events are to be arranged in libraries and community hubs across the UK.
Director: Hannah Price
Design: Octavia Crawford-Collins (set and costume), Robbie Butler (lighting and video), Fraser Milroy (sound)
Producers: The Orwell Foundation, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Libby Brodie Productions and University College London’s Festival of Culture.


Martin Kemp will take over from Cuba Gooding Jr as Billy Flynn in the West End production of Chicago. He joins the cast at the Phoenix Theatre from July 2 until September 1. The show is running until October 6.
Authors: John Kander (music), Fred Ebb (book and lyrics), Bob Fosse (book)
Director: Walter Bobbie
Producers: Barry and Fran Weissler

Martin Kemp to take over as Billy Flynn in Chicago

Broadway actor Wade McCollum, who previously played the Wizard in Wicked, will lead the cast of new musical It Happened in Key West, which premieres at London’s Charing Cross Theatre on July 4 for a seven-week run.
Authors: Jill Santoriello (book, music, lyrics), Jason Huza (book and additional lyrics), Jeremiah James (book and original concept)
Director: Marc Robin, Andrew Hopkins (musical director)
Design: Jamie Roderick, Andrew Johnson (sound), Lisa Zinni (costumes)
Producers: Jeremiah James, Rashad V. Chambers, Marylou Rothfuss, Art Lab LLC

Keith Jack, Mica Paris, and Jorgie Porter have been cast in the 30th anniversary UK tour of Fame the Musical. After opening at the Manchester Palace Theatre on July 26, Fame will visit locations including Glasgow, Blackpool, Bradford, Sheffield and Birmingham.
Director and choreographer: Nick Winston
Producers: Selladoor Worldwide, with Adam Paulden and Dan Looney

New musical Liberty Rides Forth! will run from October 2 to October 22 at London’s Waterloo East Theatre after debuting at the Brighton and Edinburgh Fringe. It follows the adventures of Trevor, an author who has to contend with mischievous drag queen Liberty springing out of the pages of his latest novel.
Author: David Kent
Director: Susan Raasay, Michael Roulston (musical director)
Cast includes: Dereck Walker, William Hazell

The London Musical Theatre Orchestra’s 2018 season includes Camelot by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe at the London Palladium (October 6), Girlfriends by Howard Goodall at the Bishopsgate Institute (November 2), and the return of A Christmas Carol at the Lyceum Theatre (December 10 and December 17). Lucie Jones (the UK’s entry in the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest) and Lauren Samuels (who starred in Emma Rice’s Romantic Anonymous) will appear in Girlfriends. Further casting is yet to be announced.


Shobana Jeyasingh Dance commemorates the 100 year anniversary of the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic with new work Contagion. It premieres at the Gymnasium Gallery in Berwick-upon-Tweed from September 15 to 16, before embarking on a tour which includes Winchester Castle (September 22 and 23), Manchester’s Imperial War Museum (October 21) and London’s British Library (November 2 and 3).
Music: Graeme Miller
Design: Merle Hensel (set and costume), Yaron Abulafia (lighting), Nina Dunn (video)
Cast includes: Avâtara Ayuso, Catarina Carvalho, Emily Pottage, Estela Merlos, Noora Kela, Rachel Maybank, Sunbee Han, Vânia Doutel Vaz

London’s biggest free contemporary circus event will take place at Somerset House in London on July 28 and 29 and August 2 and 5. The line-up for Circus Sampler will include the London Premiere of by Far From The Norm, performance and workshops from Marawa and the Majorettes and Gandini Juggling with live music by Circa Tsuica.

Eight specially-commissioned monologues by Moira Buffini, Lolita Chakrabarti, Seiriol Davies, Matilda Ibini, Courttia Newland, Meera Syal, Jack Thorne and Paul Unwin will be performed at the Old Vic Theatre in London to celebrate 70 years of the NHS. Performances will take place on June 25, 26 and 29.

We need your help…

When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.

The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.

We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.

Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.