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The week ahead, London and beyond, November 4-10

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I got back from New York late last night, after a whirlwind trip that saw me take in seven shows there, including the newly-opened Betrayal (whose steep ticket prices, from both official and unofficial sources, I wrote about here last Friday, and led to an interesting reply from none other than its lead producer Scott Rudin).

I also took in After Midnight, a new Broadway song-and-dance revue devoted to the Cotton Club era that opened last night (you can find a reviews round-up here), and Off-Broadway, Bruce Norris’s Domesticated that opens officially tonight as well as a preview of William Finn’s new musical Little Miss Sunshine. I also saw the Broadway transfer from Shakespeare’s Globe of its all-male Twelfth Night (ahead of its official opening this coming Sunday, together with Richard III that it is playing in rep with), as well as repeat viewings of the RSC’s transfer of Matilda and Kinky Boots.

But today I’m back to the London merry-go-round, which includes a busy roster of personal theatrically-related commitments alongside my more regular reviewing duties. Today, of course, I’m back at ArtsEd, where I teach the first year Musical Theatre course every Monday, and tonight I’ll be staying on to see the 3rd year students in their production of Stiles, Drewe and Eliot Davis’s Soho Cinders that runs till tomorrow.

Tomorrow I’ll be joining my fellow judges of the Peter Brook Empty Space Awards at the National Theatre Studio to present this year’s awards. And on Friday I’ll be participating in a symposium on Lionel Bart and his legendary flop musical Twang!! that GSA is producing a new version of this week from Wednesday to Saturday at the Ivy Arts Centre.

I can’t wait to see the show itself – its always been the flop of all British musical flops, but its original production was before my time. However, it has now been entirely rewritten, with a new book by GSA’s Julian Woolford and is being staged in a production by Ian Talbot, both of whom will join me and original star Barbara Windsor in a panel about the creation of the show and its revision now.

Ian, Julian and myself will also be part of another panel, hosted by Bert Fink, to talk about musical theatre flops more generally. I’ve admitted before to my particular penchant for collecting flop shows; sometimes you simply had to have been there to (dis)believe them.

Meanwhile this week also brings a host of openings, some of which I’ll also be at, or seeing soon after.

Tonight (November 4), as the centrepiece of the inaugural London Festival of Cabaret, there’s An Evening with Michael Feinstein and Friends at the Palace Theatre – the friends being Elaine Paige and Julian Ovenden (now a Downton Abbey regular of course). I’ve seen Michael over the years in venues large (from Broadway to the Dominion) and small (including his own cabaret club in New York, now alas no more, called Feinstein’s that was located on the Upper East Side), and no matter the size of the auditorium, he always commands it effortlessly with his infinite musical theatre knowledge and skill.

On Tuesday (November 5), the NT’s Shed – which is a nominee for the Peter Brook Empty Space Awards being presented earlier that day – premieres debbie tucker green’s latest play nut, directed by the playwright herself.

On Wednesday (November 6), Paul Nicholas plays Stephen Ward in Gill Adams’ Keeler at Charing Cross Theatre, beating Andrew Lloyd Webber to a stage version of the Profumo scandal, but without the music. Adams’ play is based on Christine Keeler’s 2001 autobiography, and is written with her sanction and involvement.

On Thursday (November 7), Simon McBurney returns to ENO where he previously made his operatic debut in 2010 with A Dog’s Heart to stage a new production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, co-produced with De Nederslandse Opera where this production premiered in December 2012.

It’s the ENO’s first new production of the opera since Nicholas Hytner’s much-revived production for the company was finally retired, and makes the orchestra (conducted by Gergely Madaras) a visible part of the action.

Also on Thursday, Martin Sherman’s Passing By is revived at the Tristan Bates, with Andrew Keates – who also directed a production at the Finborough earlier t his year– returning to direct a new cast in it.

On Friday (November 8), Frank Langella opens in the title role of a new production of King Lear at Chichester’s Minerva that will subsequently transfer to New York’s BAM in January.

Also on Friday, two significant fringe openings will see Joe Harmston direct the London premiere of Paul Herzberg’s The Dead Wait (previously seen at Manchester’s Royal Exchange) at the Park Theatre, and Joe Dixon and comedian Adam Riches will star in the world premiere of Timberlake Wertenbaker’s Our Ajax at Southwark Playhouse.

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