This month’s summary of what’s in the theatre’s…
Grumpies keep on groaning
The original creators of ‘the Grumpies’ have produced a brand new live show, billed as ‘here to knock some sense back into the nation’. The popular television programmes and shows have garnered a loyal following, as we all relate to the aspects of society and culture highlighted as worthy of a good moan. Starring Perrier Award winning comedian and original star of Grumpy Old Women Jenny Éclair, Grumpy Old Women: Fifty Shades of Beige is arriving for a limited run in October and November before returning in full next year.
Éclair will be joined by fellow recruits Susie Blake and Kate Robbins for over two hours of no-nonsense comedy covering everything including ‘grumpy grooming’, the joy of large pants, a nagging masterclass, voluntary euthanasia versus retirement, how to customise an unwanted pole dancing kit and a mercifully brief Zumba demonstration. The original stage version of Grumpy Old Women Live completed four sell-out UK tours, a hugely successful month-long West End residency, and a hit run in Australia. W: www.grumpyoldwomenlive.com
Chekhov transfers from Moscow to London
Internationally renowned film and theatre director, producer and screenwriter Andrei Konchalovsky is transferring his productions of Anton Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya and Three Sisters from Moscow’s Moccbeta State Academic Theatre to London’s Wyndham’s Theatre between 23 April and 3 May 2014. The acclaimed productions will be performed in their original Russian with English subtitles, and Konchalovsky has used the same setting and cast for both plays, emphasising the similarities between these two most celebrated Chekhov plays. An ‘early bird’ offer is available; groups of eight or more should book by 31 December to get top price tickets for just £30.
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Beautiful blizzards to delight audiences once more
Slava’s Snowshow is a hugely popular theatrical spectacular, which culminates in a man-made snowstorm that leaves the audience knee-deep in snow. Created by a world-renowned company of clowns, the production has won awards in numerous countries (including an Olivier for Best Entertainment) and counts Angelina Jolie and Giorgio Armani among its celebrity fans. The show is making a welcome return to theUK, touring round the country from October 1 before running at the Southbank Centre inLondon from December 17 to January 6 2014. W: www.slavasnowshow.co.uk
Three ballet favourites return to UK
The Russian National Ballet is embarking on an exclusive tour of four UK venues this December, performing the three most classic ballets of all time. Swan Lake, The Nutcracker and The Sleeping Beauty are coming to Brighton, Guildford, Watford and Cardiff, with each show featuring the stunning choreography, sumptuous costumes and fantastical sets that the ballets are famous for. The Russian National Ballet was founded by, and has as artistic director, the legendary Bolshoi principal dancer Sergei Radchenko.
Under Mr Radchenko, The Russian National Ballet, as its name implies, has focused on upholding the grand national tradition of the major Russian ballet works and has developed new talents throughoutRussia, with a repertory of virtually all the great full works.
Iconic cabaret plays on at Moulin Rouge
The most famous cabaret in the world, the Moulin Rouge in Parisis still going strong over 120 years after opening. A popular tourist attraction these days, over 620,000 spectators a year come to enjoy the show, often with dinner as well. Close to Montmartre in the Parisdistrict of Pigalle, the red windmill on its roof is an iconic sight. France’s ‘Belle Époque’ was a period of peace and optimism marked by industrial progress, and a particularly rich cultural exuberance; the Eiffel Tower was constructed in the same year that Moulin Rouge opened, 1889.
The Montmartre area was a bohemian, lower-class but artistically rich part of Paris, and the businessmen founders of Moulin Rouge, Joseph Oller and Charles Zidler, understood that Montmartre was ‘fashionable’ and aimed at attracting the very rich to an area they would not normally frequent.
Moulin Rouge is perhaps best known as the spiritual birthplace of the modern form of the can-can dance. Originally introduced as a seductive dance by the courtesans who operated from the site, the can-can dance revue evolved into a form of entertainment of its own and led to the introduction of cabarets across Europe. The club’s decor still contains much of the romance of fin de siècle France and has maintained its ‘Belle Époque’ style. Authentic murals adorn the walls and the Morris columns display the original posters of the artists who have performed there, including Maurice Chavalier, Edith Piaf, Frank Sinatra and Liza Minnelli.
There are 900 seats and small tables arranged for cabaret dining. 60 artists from all around the world perform twice every evening in the show. W: www.moulinrouge.fr/?lang=en
Choose your favourite play
The English Touring Theatre is on the hunt for the UK’s favourite plays, promising that it will perform the chosen ones in the regions that rated them most highly. As part of their 21st birthday celebrations in 2014, the ETT will reveal the list from the results of an online poll. Anyone can vote for their most-loved drama at myfavouriteplay.com, with the ETT taking the risk of pledging to put on the most popular play in each region, no matter what the result.
It is expected that some of the old classics, such as Waiting for Godot, Hamlet and Death of a Salesman will take places on the list, but it is also a chance for the public to champion plays less frequently shown. The idea came from the ETT’s patron, Sir Ian McKellen.
Opening at the London Palladium early in 2014, I Can’t Sing!, the X Factor musical by Harry Hill and Steve Brown will see Nigel Harman taking a key role as Simon Cowell. Cowell has described the show as “bonkers” but heartily supports the endeavour, advising Harman to act unpleasantly in his portrayal in order to make it as realistic as possible. Cowell initially thought the project to make an X Factor musical sounded terrible, but after watching a performance he changed his mind completely.
With music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and book and lyrics by Christopher Hampton and Don Black, Stephen Ward is opening in the West End with previews at the Aldwych Theatre from 3 December. Based on the 1963 Profumo Affair, the musical charts the rise and fall from grace of the society osteopath Stephen Ward, and his role in the scandal that shocked society. The musical centres on Ward’s involvement with the young and beautiful Christine Keeler, in increasingly permissive London society in the 1960s.
From 6 December, artistic director Josie Rourke will direct Tom Hiddleston in the Donmar Warehouse’s new production of Coriolanus. Hiddleston returns to the Donmar in the title role in Shakespeare’s searing tragedy of political manipulation and revenge. Coriolanus will also be broadcast live into cinemas around the world on 30 January 2014 (and on varying dates internationally) in partnership with National Theatre Live.
The Royal Opera House’s much-loved production of The Wind in the Willows will play an eight week Christmas season at The Duchess Theatre this year. Based on Kenneth Grahame’s timeless classic, the adventures of four woodland friends are retold through dance, song, music and puppetry. The escapades of the reckless Toad and his long-suffering friends Ratty, Mole and Badger are brought to life in a production that has charmed audiences of all ages (the show is recommended for everyone aged 5 and over).
By Kat Wagner.
Kat Wagner holds a degree in International Journalism from LJMU and currently works as a learning and development office for Peterborough City Council. She enjoys West End musicals, reading horror novels and walking.