The Week Ahead: Les Mis' final revolve, Joseph's Dreamcoat arrives, and a reinvented Ibsen classic
This evening, 8th July, Jasmine Lee-Jones's seven methods of killing kylie jenner receives its world premiere at the Royal Court's Jerwood Theatre Upstairs, in a production directed Milli Bhatia. First commissioned as part of The Andrea Project – a day of free events inspired by the life, work and legacy of Andrea Dunbar - this work was part of the Young Court's mission to expand the Royal Court's commitment to new voices.
Tomorrow night, 9th July, Peter Gynt (as Ibsen's classic play has been redubbed in this new version by David Hare) opens at the National's Olivier Theatre with Jonathan Kent directing James McArdle in the title role. It will subsequently transfer to Edinburgh as part of the Edinburgh International Festival.
Also on Tuesday, this summer's feast of early Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice musicals kicks off at the Barbican Theatre with an indoors run for Timothy Sheader's Regent's Park Open Air production of their second collaboration Jesus Christ Superstar, that had previously had two runs in the park in 2016 and 2017. This time it stars Robert Tripolino as Jesus, Ricardo Alfonso as Judas and Sallay Garnett as Mary, with Matt Cardle as Pilate.
Thursday sees it joined by the opening of a brand-new production of Lloyd Webber and Rice's first hit Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the London Palladium, 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.
Before that though, on Wednesday, there's a triple bill of openings: Ben Weatherill's Jellyfish, first seen at the Bush Theatre last year, transfers to the National's Dorfman for a limited season; Rona Munro's adaptation of the best-selling novel Captain Corelli's Mandolin transfers to the West End's Pinter Theatre following a national tour of Melly Still's production; and The Illusionists: Direct from Broadway has a return run at the Shaftesbury Theatre for a summer season, this time with a line-up that comprises James More, Enzo, Yu Ho-Jin, Adam Trent, Chris Cox, Paul Dabek and Jonathan Goodwin.
And this Saturday, the original production of London's longest-ever running musical Les Miserables spins its famous revolve for the last time. Trevor Nunn and John Caird's production first opened at the Barbican in 1985 before transferring to the Palace and then its current home the Queen's; now that original monumental production, is being officially retired. An all-star staged concert version will play from 10th August to 30th November at the Gielgud next door while the Queen's is extensively refurbished, before the current touring version of the show re-opens at the Queen's, but will then be re-named the Sondheim Theatre, from 18th December.
Top five shows of the week
Four years after its original premiere at Leicester's Curve in 2015 that was followed by a revised London production at the Menier Chocolate Factory in the summer of 2017, this new musical version of Sue Townsend's novel about the growing pains of a young Leicester-based teenager has finally made it to the West End. In his review for LondonTheatre, Will Longman wrote, "It is a warm-hearted show for the family. Adults who fondly remember reading the books will take to the charm of this musical, and while children will love the silly humour, they will also see themselves in some of the characters."
14 years after the Almeida launched their hit stage version of Thomas Vinterberg's 1998 film Festen, they've now premiered a new stage version of another Vinterberg film, the 2012 Jagten - and it's as shattering and alarming. Both revolve around child abuse: actual in the case of Festen, but this time told from the point of view of a falsely-accused suspected perpetrator. As I wrote in my review for LondonTheatre.co.uk: "The ordinary terrors of the consequences of this false accusation, as Lucas's life goes into rapid freefall, are played with a shocking, desperate realism by Tobias Menzies... It's a gripping, unsettling evening - not easy to watch, but impossible to look away from.
Previews begin on Saturday 13th July for the UK premiere of the 2014 Broadway musical version of Robert James Waller's novel. It won its composer Jason Robert Brown the 2014 Tony Awards for best original score and best orchestrations. Trevor Nunn, who is currently represented in the West End by the transfer of his Menier Chocolate Factory production of Fiddler on the Roof, directs a cast led by Jenna Russell (who will be interviewed on this site next week) and Ed Baker-Duly.
Director John Tiffany, movement director Steven Hoggett and playwright Jack Thorne reunite after their hit collaboration on Harry Potter and the Cursed Child for a play rooted in a different kind of realism. As I wrote in my review for LondonTheatre.co.uk, it "reflects the tensions and disappointments of a lifelong socialist idealism and activism, and its multiple betrayals from Blair to Brexit.... in this superlatively well-cast and acted production, it cuts deep. I was both absorbed throughout and regularly in tears, too."
A theatrical homecoming for Michael Frayn's classic farce, as it returns to the theatre where it originally premiered in 1982 before transferring to the West End and Broadway. In his review for LondonTheatre.co.uk, Will Longman wrote: "Last week, Present Laughter injected some much-needed comedy into the West End, a standout performance and something that’s easy to relax and enjoy. Now at the Lyric, you have a real ensemble effort coming together to deliver a classic British farce and plenty more laughs."