Weddings and Shakespeare and Chekhov, oh my!

My weekly round-ups have been neglected of late what with all the bank holidays so here is a catch-up on everything you might have missed over the last couple of weeks. If you have a moment to spare in between the BBQs, bucks fizz and bunting then read on for all the big news from theatreland.

Royal Wedding fever With less than 24 hours until Wills and Kate’s big day, a strange ailment has struck down the nation. Yes, Royal Wedding fever is raging throughout Britain and theatreland is by no means immune. For those not lucky enough to get an invite to Westminster Abbey, there is plenty of Royal Wedding themed theatrical fare to help you celebrate in appropriate style.

Cameron Mackintosh’s new show Betty Blue Eyes, based around the celebration of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip’s wedding in 1947, has hit the jackpot by coinciding with this year’s big Royal event. A Royal Wedding in a time of austerity – ringing any bells? While Mackintosh has been dealt a lucky hand by fate, Taunton Brewhouse have deliberately created an entire festival around Prince William’s impending nuptials with England, My England, a celebration of Englishness.

If all this was not enough, the Tkts booth in Leicester Square is giving you the opportunity to see a West End show completely for free if you happen to share a name with one of the happy couple. The first ten Williams and Catherines to visit the booth tomorrow from 10am will receive free tickets to a top West End show of their choice. Meanwhile, for those suffering from Royal Wedding overdose, satirical show The Prisoner of Windsor, set to run at Leicester Square Theatre from 20 May to 11 June, could provide some welcome piss taking.

For more viewing tips from me, check out this week’s Royal Wedding themed What’s Hot feature for The Public Reviews, or for some different suggestions see the list that have compiled.

Dramatis personae Gary Wilmot, fresh from the Menier’s The Invisible Man last year, will be leading the cast of Noel Gay’s musical Radio Times in a new production at the Watermill Theatre in August. There is a casting change in the Liverpool Everyman’s upcoming production of Macbeth, meanwhile, as Jemma Redgrave pulls out and is replaced by Julia Ford, who will now play Lady Macbeth opposite David Morrissey next month.

Elsewhere, full casting has been announced for the Old Vic’s hotly anticipated production of Richard III, which will reunite director Sam Mendes and artistic director Kevin Spacey, who takes the title role. Those joining Spacey include Annabel Scholey, Gemma Jones, Haydn Gwynne, Chuk Iwuji, Maureen Anderman and Chandler Williams (see here for full cast). Further casting has also been revealed for the Royal Court’s Chicken Soup with Barley, which will star Samantha Spiro, Tom Rosenthal, Danny Webb and Harry Peacock among others (full cast here).

Finally, Michael Brandon, Sandra Dickinson and Katherine Kingsley will be joining the previously announced Adam Cooper, Scarlet Strallen and Daniel Crossley in Chichester’s production of Singin’ in the Rain this summer.

Curtain up Sadly there is not enough room to cover all the openings over the last couple of weeks, but there are a few that deserve special mention. Last week saw the arrival of Belt Up’s striking site specific production of Macbeth at the House of Detention in Clerkenwell, the RSC’s premiere of Rona Munro’s new play Little Eagles  at Hampstead Theatre and Philip Ridley’s Tender Napalm at Southwark Playhouse. This week’s openings, meanwhile, include Dan Rebellato’s Chekhov in Hell at the Soho Theatre and, speaking of Chekhov, his Uncle Vanya is given new life in a production at the Arcola Theatre.

Encore! New musical Thrill Me, which only recently opened at the Tristan Bates Theatre, has already secured a transfer to the Charing Cross Theatre next month, while another musical, Hamlet! – an unlikely comic, musical version of Shakespeare’s great tragedy – is set to hit Northampton and Richmond after its success at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe, with a future West End transfer being a possibility. Another fresh look at Shakespeare, meanwhile, is provided by Simon Callow’s one-man show in which he plays the Bard. Being Shakespeare is transferring to the Trafalgar Studios for a limited run following a successful production in Richmond last year.

Box office In my last round-up all the gossip was centring around the Barbican’s production of South Pacific ahead of its press launch last week. Rumours that Samantha Womack and Paulo Szot were on board have been confirmed, but we are yet to hear any news about Matthew Morrison.

There is sure to be a flurry of bookings for the Donmar’s second season at Trafalgar Studios from November, with productions including a new play by Tim Price, Conor McPherson’s Dublin Carol and Jean-Paul Sartre’s Huis Clos. Meanwhile, one show was replaced by another at the Landor, as the planned production of Moby Dick was cancelled due to a funding shortfall but Paul Taylor Mills’ cross-dressing Fringe revival of Little Shop of Horrors quickly took its place. The transfer will open next month.

And a bit of fun to finish … Last weekend saw this year’s West End Eurovision, a TheatreMAD fundraising event involving a whole host of West End shows at the Piccadilly Theatre, with Legally Blonde trumping the others to win the contest. I leave you now with a video of their winning performance. Enjoy!

Any news you would like to add? What shows have you been enjoying over the bank holidays? Leave a comment!


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