Top London Fringe and Off-West End Shows to look out for in 2017
After examining the array of exciting new productions opening in the West End over the coming twelve months, we've turned our attention to the London Fringe/Off-West End scene. Having created a number of exciting new productions throughout 2016, London fringe venues are once again producing a wide variety of new plays, musicals and entertainment to suit all different theatrical tastes.
Read our exciting list of upcoming Off-West End productions in 2017.
Trafalgar Studios 2, from 4 January
Transferring after a sell-out, award-nominated run at Theatre503, Stuart Slade's BU21 follows six Londoners in the aftermath of a fictitious terrorist attack. In turn terrifying, inspiring, brutal, heart-breaking and hilarious, this is verbatim theatre from the very near future. Based on real testimonies gathered from a variety of terrorist incidents including the 7/7 bombings, 9/11, the Paris attacks and the 2013 Westgate shopping mall attack, Slade’s BU21 is terrifyingly credible, with a cast that includes Alexander Forsyth and Isabella Laughland.
Southwark Playhouse, from 13 January
A new production of Burt Bacharach and Hal David's hit Broadway musical Promises, Promises kicks off the new year at the Southwark Playhouse. Based on the 1960 film 'The Apartment' it features a score of hits by Bacharach and David, including "Turkey Lurkey Time", "Knowing When to Leave" and "What Do You Get When You Fall in Love?". Having recently been enjoyed on Broadway, this fresh revival comes to London with a cast that includes Daisy Maywood and Gabriel Vick bringing Neil Simon's hilarious book to life.
Charing Cross Theatre, from 16 January
The final show in Thom Southerland's inaugural season at the Charing Cross Theatre is the European premiere of Maury Yeston, Thomas Meehan and Peter Stone's Drama Desk nominated musical Death Takes a Holiday. Set in Northern Italy shortly after World War One, Death disguises himself as a handsome young prince to try to understand why life is so precious and death so feared. But when he unexpectedly falls in love with a newly engaged young woman, this mysterious stranger discovers that love may in fact be stronger than death. Southerland directs a cast that includes Maxwell Caulfield, Zoë Doano and Chris Peluso, making this a sure fire musical theatre hit with a goregous and haunting score.
Hampstead Theatre, from 27 January
Director Peter DuBois reunites with Emilia Fox in Laura Eason’s smart comedy packed with hidden ambitions, soaring desires and secret agendas, also starring Theo James in his stage debut. Olivia, an attractive and talented but underappreciated mid-career writer, is unexpectedly trapped overnight in a secluded, snowed-in B&B with Ethan, an equally attractive and wildly successful young blogger. The closer the pair get, the more they must confront the murky side of ambition, success and Wi-Fi…
Shoreditch Town Hall, from 27 January
Jamie Lloyd directs a Philip Ridley double-bill at Shoreditch Town Hall with a cast that includes George Blagden, Tom Rhys Harries, Seun Shote and Hayley Squires. Claustrophobic, comic and deeply unsettling, Philip Ridley’s seminal masterpiece played a revolutionary role in changing the face of British theatre when it premiered in 1991 to critical acclaim and controversy. Its exploration of ‘a climate of fear’, living in ‘alternate worlds’ and persistent thrum of sexual anxiety has continued to act as a tuning fork for the zeitgeist - a play whose relevance is forever in the now.
The Other Palace, from 11 February
As the St James Theatre officially becomes The Other Palace in 2017, the opening production for the venue is the professional UK premiere of Michael John LaChiusa's musical adaptation of The Wild Party. One of my top five musicals of all time, this dark, exciting and highly skilled musical is based on the 1928 Joseph Moncure March narrative poem of the same name and set against a backdrop of Manhattan decadence and 1920’s excess. Frances Ruffelle stars as Queenie alongside John Owen-Jones as Burrs and Broadway legend Donna McKechnie as Dolores. Directed and choreographed by the incomparable Drew McOnie, this is set to be one of London's most exciting musical openings of 2017, bringing this sharp Broadway musical to a brand new audience. Don't miss.
The Greenwich Theatre, from 22 February
This curious new musical features music by Steven Cheslik-DeMeyer and Alan Stevens Hewitt, lyrics by Steven Cheslik-DeMeyer and Tim Maner, a book by Tim Maner and is based on an original concept by Alan Stevens Hewitt and Tim Maner. On a sweltering summer morning in 1892, in a small New England city, a prominent businessman and his wife were axed to death in their home. Their daughter Lizzie Borden was the prime suspect. Lizzie’s trial was a coast-to-coast media sensation, and her story has become an American legend. This explosive rock musical features four women fronting a six-piece rock band, described as American mythology set to a blistering rock score. With an international cast that includes Bjorg Gamst, Jodie Jacobs, Eden Espinosa and Bleu Woodward, this will no doubt be a powerful new musical.
New Wimbledon Theatre, from 14 March
A new UK tour of Harvey Fierstein and Jerry Herman's Tony Award-winning musical based on the 1973 French play of the same name by Jean Poiret makes a welcome stop in London at the New Wimbledon Theatre. The original Broadway production became an instant smash hit when it opened in 1983, receiving six Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Score and Best Book. Marti Webb, John Partridge and Adrian Zmed lead this brand new production that features classic Broadway songs such as "I Am What I Am", "The Best of Times" and "Song on the Sand". Expect drama, hilarity, fantastic songs and a beautiful chorus line of Cagelles.
Jermyn Street Theatre, from 14 March
The UK Premiere of Stephen Sondheim's musical The Frogs runs at the Jermyn Street Theatre this spring. Originally performed in Yale University’s gymnasium’s swimming pool in 1974, this new version opened on Broadway in 2004 and includes seven new Sondheim songs. Based on the comedy written in 405 BC by Aristophanes the musical has been freely adapted by Burt Shevelove and even more freely adapted by Nathan Lane. A rare chance to see a lesser known Sondheim musical in London in the intimate surrounds of the Jermyn Street Theatre.
Southwark Playhouse, from 25 March
Cy Coleman's fantastic late musical finally lands in London at the fantastic Southwark Playhouse who have developed a strong reputation for delivering lost Broadway classics. A thrilling exposé of the darker side of 1980’s New York, The Life is a defiant and heartfelt musical about Times Square before it was cleaned up. A world of pimps and prostitutes, innocents and opportunists, it’s a gutsy and gritty joyride filled with both pathos and fun. Directed by Michael Blakemore the cast includes Sharon D. Clarke and Cornell S. John and will mark the professional London premiere of this overlooked Broadway gem.
Theatre Royal Kingston, from 19 April
Jeremy Herrin directs Jack Thorne’s Junkyard, a wildly funny and vivid new musical with original score from Academy Award-winning composer Stephen Warbeck, about a miscreant group of misfit teenagers who come together to build an adventure playground. It’s 1979, and a motley crew of teenagers grudgingly agree to create a junk playground in Bristol under the guidance of the well-meaning Rick. As the playground starts to come to life – it turns from something that means nothing to something that means a lot. Produced by Headlong, Bristol Old Vic, Rose Theatre Kingston and Theatr Clwyd this exciting new musical arrives in Kingston as part of a short UK tour.
City of Glass
Lyric, Hammersmith from 20 April
59 Productions, HOME & Lyric Hammersmith will present the world premiere of Paul Auster’s City of Glass adapted by Duncan Macmillan, which will run at the Lyric Hammersmith. Adapted from the first novel of 'The New York Trilogy' by Paul Auster and the graphic novel by Paul Karasik and David Mazzucchelli, the production will feature cutting-edge projection-mapping, combined with stagecraft, magic and illusion to immerse audiences into Quinn’s increasingly dystopic and fragmented world. Directed by Leo Warner with movement by Kim Brandstrup, the design will be inspired by the graphic novel and bring it to life in a brand new theatrical way.
Southwark Playhouse, from 2 June
Adapted from the book by Studs Terkel by Stephen Schwartz and Nina Faso, Working features an eclectic score by Craig Carnelia, Micki Grant, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mary Rodgers & Susan Birkenhead, Stephen Schwartz and James Taylor. This highly original and universal portrait of the American workday is told from the perspective of those that the world so often overlooks – the schoolteacher, the housewife, the fireman and the waitress amongst many – whose daily grind and aspirations reflect the truths of the people that make up a nation. Directed by the wonderful Luke Sheppard, this exciting production opens at the Southwark Playhouse this coming summer.