The Week Ahead: Andrew Scott at the Old Vic, Longhurst's inaugural Donmar production and On Your Feet!
On Tuesday (24th June), Andrew Scott leads the cast of Old Vic artistic director Matthew Warchus's new production of Noel Coward's Present Laughter, playing star actor Garry Essendine whose life is spiralling out of control. Scott previously starred in Coward's Design for Living at the Old Vic in 2010, and was last seen there in a brief run of Simon Stephens's Sea Wall last June. He is joined by a cast that includes Sophie Thompson, Indira Varma and Suzie Toase.
Then on Wednesday, the Almeida offers the world stage premiere of The Hunt, based on the Danish thriller Jagten by Thomas Vinterberg and Tobias Lindholm that has been adapted for the stage by David Farr and is directed by Rupert Goold.
Also on Wednesday, the cult Off-Broadway musical Bare: A Pop Opera opens a run at London's Vaults in a new production directed by Julie Atherton and featuring Stacy Francis and Jo Napthine in the cast. It was originally premiered in LA in 2000 before transferring to New York in 2004. It was previously seen at London's Union Theatre in 2013.
On Your Feet! - a biomusical about Gloria Estefan and her husband Emilio's pop career and relationship - opens at the London Coliseum on Thursday. Jerry Mitchell's production, which has choreography by Sergio Trujillo, was first seen on Broadway in 2015; the London production features Christie Prades as Gloria, who has played the role on Broadway and in the US tour, and George Ionnides as Emilio. The cast also includes Madelena Alberto as Gloria Fajardo and Karen Mann as Consuelo.
Also on Thursday, Michael Longhurst inaugurates his tenure as the new artistic director of the Donmar Warehouse by directing a 25th-anniversary revival of David Greig's early prophetic play Europe, which explores our complex relationship with that continent, "as a continent, a refuge, an idea."
Then on Friday, Michael Dennis' debut play Dark Sublime is premiered at Trafalgar Studios 2, with a cast that includes Marina Sirtis, Jacqueline King, Simon Thorp and Sophie Ward under the direction of Andrew Keates.
Top shows of the week
The Light in the Piazza
Royal Festival Hall
Not every critic responded as favourably as I did to the London premiere of Adam Guettel and Craig Lucas's exquisite romantic musical The Light in the Piazza, currently enjoying a limited season (to 5th July only). But I've loved the score to this musical ever since I first heard it at Lincoln Center's Vivian Beaumont Theatre in 2005, and loved hearing giving it being given a spellbinding voice here in London. As I wrote in my review here: it's "a score of swelling, surging musical joy, full of meltingly lovely arias, laments and a sense of overwhelming feeling. I don't think that there's a more ravishing sound to be heard in all of London right now. And the luxury casting of Daniel Evans's London premiere of the show - in the players of both the cast and onstage orchestra - ensures that it is heard at its exquisite best."
Previews begin this Thursday for the return of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's first musical success, in a new production directed by Laurence Connor. The title role is played by Jac Yarrow, who graduates from Arts Educational Schools London this summer, with Jason Donovan (who starred in the title role of the show's last revival at this address twenty-five years ago) now returning as Pharaoh and Sheridan Smith as the Narrator.
OK, I didn't like David Mamet's play - at all - giving it a one-star review, in which I said of a play that's a thinly-disguised portrait of Harvey Weinstein's downfall, "Distasteful and misjudged don't begin to describe it". But proving that London critics have their own voices, a couple of the Sunday reviews were far more favourable, with the Mail on Sunday offering a five-star rave that said: "One can’t see a macho writer like Mamet ever currying favour with the #MeToo lobby. But this is merciless in skewering the cynical criminality at the heart of Hollywood. As the apex predator in the tinsel jungle, John Malkovich is skin-crawlingly magnificent. I was absolutely riveted to my seat."
Previews begin this Thursday for the National's revival of Ibsen's Peer Gynt; meanwhile, Ibsen's Romsersholm enters the final weeks of its run at the Duke of York's. As I wrote in my review for LondonTheatre.co.uk: "In one of producer Sonia Friedman's possibly boldest (or most reckless?) moves yet, she's giving commercial life to the Norwegian misery merchant's (very) rarely-seen 1886 play Rosemersholm; even the title is off-putting and hardly trips off the tongue." But it turns out to be truly electrifying: as I also wrote, "It also startlingly becomes a play for today in Duncan Macmillan's searing new version."
Last chance to catch this brilliant production of Arthur Miller's play at its original home of the Young Vic, where it closes on June 29th -- but fear not, it transfers to the West End's Piccadilly Theatre in October, for which tickets are now on sale. As I wrote in my five-star review for LondonTheatre.co.uk: "Changing the race of the play's title character and his family both changes everything AND nothing. The play's the same; the players are not. And so you see the story completely afresh."