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Coming up in the West End (March - April 2014)

At last the weathers turning Spring-like and thankfully the West End is coming alive again after one of the dullest, quietest February’s I can remember. There’s nothing dull about the next few weeks which is chock full of enticing new productions for you to enjoy.

First up is the exciting chance to see show business legend Angela Lansbury in BLITHE SPIRIT, Noel Coward’s masterpiece about a dead wife visiting her husband (Lansbury plays the medium who facilitates this). It’s particularly fascinating when you consider when it was first written. Setting out to pen something in response to the Second World War, Coward cannily chose to write a gentle comedy in which its never mentioned. But it what it does do is remind us that the dead still care about us which was an enormous comfort to a country who’d lost so many loved ones.

  • 18 Mar 2014: BLITHE SPIRIT by Noel Coward opens at the Gielgud Theatre

Next up is an opportunity to discover one of Broadway’s recent hits. I couldn’t get a ticket in New York it was so popular. It’s about a family in melt down when the daughter announces she’s about to publish a book exposing a dark family secret. The other interesting thing is that the Old Vic has transformed itself into an in-the-round space again. The theatre is so big and grand inside that it can sometimes seem cavernous and overpowers domestic drama. This configuration worked very well when the theatre presented the Norman Conquest trilogy and it turns the building into a surprisingly intimate and powerful space for contemporary writing. No mega stars but there’s a mouth watering ensemble including Sinead Cusack, Clare Higgins & Peter Egan.

  • 24 Mar 2014: OTHER DESERT CITIES by Jon Robin Baitz opens at the Old Vic Theatre (previews from 13 Mar 2014)

Next up is the intriguing prospect of seeing 80’s movie hit FATAL ATTRACTION adapted for the stage. It’s the story of how an obsessive mistress sets out to destroy her lover’s marriage. Apparently it has a different ending to the film which was criticised for demonising a vulnerable woman. It should be fascinating, especially as it’s directed by top director Trevor Nunn. Sex in the City’s Charlotte – Kristin Davis -stars as the wife.

  • 25 Mar 2014: FATAL ATTRACTION Adapted for the stage by original screen writer James Dearden at Haymarket Theatre Royal (previews from 11 Mar 2014)

A day later the West End get’s a new blockbuster musical, I CAN’T SING! THE X FACTOR MUSICAL. It’s written by TV comedian Harry Hill and X Factor supremo Simon Cowell is both one of the producers and features as a character played by Nigel Harman (ex East Enders and star of Shrek the Musical) I hear it’s hilarious, particularly Simon Bailey as a Dermot O’Leary figure. I’ve enjoyed working with him in the past and I’m really excited to see what he brings to the role. The X Factor’s been parodied many times before of course, most notably recently in the disastrous Spice Girl’s musical Viva Forever but it’s one of my favourite programmes and I hear that this time it’s treated with respect in amongst the jokes. Let’s see if it can capture the excitement of the TV show, no one understands the power and quirks of TV more than its celebrity writer, Harry Hill, so we’re in safe hands.

  • 26 Mar 2014: I CAN’T SING! THE X FACTOR MUSICAL Music and lyrics from Steve Brown. Book and lyrics by Harry Hill opens at the London Palladium Theatre (previews from 05 Mar 2014)

The second big musical about to burst into the West End is DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS. Another Broadway hit, I saw it in New York with Jonathan Pryce as a smooth talking con-man on the French Riviera who has to see off a brash rival. That in turn is based on a popular film starring Steve Martin. Robert Lindsey is the lead this time playing opposite Rufus Hound who came to prominence when he took over the James Corden role in hit West End comedy ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS. The female victims aren’t as dumb as the criminals hope though and it’s a wonderfully sophisticated evening of classy song and dance. It's also great to see the hilarious John Marquez getting star billing. I once directed him as Luther Billis in SOUTH PACIFIC and it's been wonderful to see him climb the ladder of West End stardom in recent years. He was terrific recently in PRIVATES ON PARADE and will be a great foil to Lindsey and Hound.

  • 01 Apr 2014: DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS Music and lyrics by David Yazbek and book by Jeffrey Lane. Opens at the Savoy Theatre (previews from 10 Mar 2014)

Pushing further into April four unmissable plays transfer to the West End following acclaimed productions elsewhere.

ANOTHER COUNTRY, which blames public school bullying for the treachery of British Spies in 1950s moves in from the Chichester Theatre followed by more school bullying in another movie adaptation LET THE RIGHT ONE IN which chilling teen Vampire love blossoms in the bleak landscape of 80s Stockholm. Play goers at the Tricycle theatre loved HANDBAGGED when it was premiered Off West End, now a wider audience can see playwright Moira Buffini’s electric imagining of clashes between the Queen and Margaret Thatcher. Finally another Noël Coward play, RELATIVE VALUES, moves to London from Chichester and finds the master social commentator having fun comparing British and American High Society in the 1950s. Patricia Hodge, Caroline Quentin, and Rory Bremner star.

  • 03 Apr 2014: ANOTHER COUNTRY by Julian Mitchell at the Trafalgar Studios Theatre (previews from 26 Mar 2014)
  • 07 Apr 2014: LET THE RIGHT ONE IN Based on the Swedish novel and cult-hit film by John Ajvide Lindqvist, adapted by Jack Thorne opens at the Apollo Theatre (previews from 26 Mar 2014)
  • 10 Apr 2014: HANDBAGGED By Moira Buffini opens at the Vaudeville Theatre (previews from 03 Apr 2014)
  • 14 Apr 2014: RELATIVE VALUES by Noel Coward opens at the Harold Pinter Theatre (previews from 19 Mar 2014)