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Mark Shenton’s theatre picks: November 6

It’s a busy week for transfers from the regions to London (including productions from Canterbury, Colchester and Birmingham), plus a return to London for La Soiree for the first time in three years and the second edition of the West End Recast cabaret, plus Christmas comes early at the Dominion.

La Soiree – Southbank Centre, London

Since first seeing La Soiree in its original incarnation as La Clique on the Edinburgh Fringe, I’ve followed this demented and inspiring cabaret/burlesque showcase around the world from Sydney and New York to London, where they’ve played at venues including the Hippodrome (before it was turned into a casino), a Spiegeltent behind the car park behind the National, and the Roundhouse.

Now they’re returning to London and are back in a Spiegeltent, their most authentic and atmospheric home, sited on the South Bank as part of its annual Winter Festival on the riverside. I’ll be back for the official opening on November 11, and so will regular acts the hunky English Gents and the irresistible Ursula Martinez, joined by other newcomers for a season through to January 11.

West End Recast – Phoenix Theatre, London

Also not to be missed this week is the second outing for West End Recast – a one-night cabaret at the Phoenix Theatre on November 9 in which such terrific theatre regulars as Julie Atherton, John Robyns, Daniel Boys, Cassidy Janson, Cynthia Erivo and Nick Holder will perform songs that they have always wanted to sing, but from roles they would never be cast in. (The first show last year saw Holder bringing the house down with Defying Gravity.)

Charles Busch. Photo: Michael Wakefield [1]
Charles Busch. Photo: Michael Wakefield

Broadway’s Charles Busch – Crazy Coqs, London

I also can’t wait to see the London cabaret debut of New York drag legend and Broadway playwright Charles Busch at Crazy Coqs (November 11-13). I also interviewed Busch for the current edition of The Stage [2].

Catch Me If You Can – ArtsEd, London

I’m looking forward to the European premiere of Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman’s 2011 Broadway musical Catch Me If You Can running at the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation Theatre at ArtsEd in Chiswick from November 11-15), featuring final year BA Musical Theatre students. I should declare an interest: I teach at the school, but it has an enviable record of turning out first-rate talent, as I noted in my column about the school’s production of Wonderful Town. [3]

Shaiman and Wittman, of course, are the guys behind the scores of Hairspray and the current West End hit Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and I saw Catch Me If You Can on Broadway (twice) so I can vouch for the score already, too.

2071, Royal Court Theatre, London

On the plays front, 2071 – premiering at the Royal Court on November 6 – tackles an urgent contemporary issue, climate change, in a collaboration between director Katie Mitchell, playwright Duncan Macmillan and one of the world’s most influential climate scientists and former director of the Science Museum, Professor Chris Rapley.

Photo: Marlowe Theatre [4]
Photo: Marlowe Theatre

The Cherry Orchard – Young Vic, London

Mitchell is also currently represented in London by a starkly beautiful new production of Ckekhov’s The Cherry Orchard at the Young Vic until November 29 that burns with an intensity and clarity of emotions.

Beached – Soho Theatre, London

There are also a slew of transfers from the regions, all of them coincidentally opening officially on November 6. Melissa Bubnic’s Beached, the inaugural in-house production from Canterbury’s Marlowe Theatre, opens a London season at Soho Theatre.

Man to Man – Park90, London

Manfred Karge’s Man to Man, also opening on November 6, transfers from Colchester’s Mercury Theatre to open at Park90, with Tricia Kelly reprising her role as a woman who assumes her husband’s identity after he dies.

Solomon and Marion – Print Room at the Coronet, London

Lara Foot’s Solomon and Marion transfers from Birmingham Rep to open at the Print Room at the Coronet on November 6, with Janet Suzman and Khayalethu Anthony as two injured souls searching for redemption in a fragile, post-apartheid South Africa.

Not-About-Heroes-press-image [5]Not About Heroes – Trafalgar Studios, London

Also coming to London after a national tour is a new production of Stephen Macdonald’s Not About Heroes, opening at Trafalgar Studios 2 on November 11, featuring Alasdair Craig as Siegfried Sassoon and Simon Jenkins as Wilfred Owen.

White Christmas – Dominion Theatre, London

This Broadway stage version of the 1954 movie seasonal favourite, with a score by Irving Berlin, makes its first West End appearance with a cast that includes Aled Jones and Tom Chambers, opening on November 12. It has previously had UK regional runs in 2008 and 2009. A separate production will also be staged at West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds this Christmas, beginning performances on November 24.

Another Place, Drum Theatre, Plymouth

Outside of London, Plymouth’s Drum Theatre is one of the most consistently interesting homes of new writing, and this week premieres Another Place, a new play by DC Moore (running in the Drum from November 6-22), that deals with our obsession to uncover the secrets of space and the tragedy of what we leave behind.

This is by no means an exhaustive list – what are you looking forward to this week? Feel free to add your suggestions below.

Read more columns from Mark Shenton [6]

The Stage Awards 2015 [7]