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Showtime May

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... Opening Soon

May is a month for mammoth openings. It begins with a production that brings together the stars of Game Of Thrones and Downton Abbey, and only gets bigger from there.

Richard Madden (better known as Robb Stark) and Lily James (Downton’s Lady Rose) play the world’s most famous lovers, Romeo And Juliet, at the Garrick Theatre from 12 May. If they are not enough of a draw, let me add that they’re directed by the recently Olivier Award-nominated Kenneth Branagh, and that Derek Jacobi and Meera Syal are also in the cast.

For instance, there’s the UK debut of hit musical Disney’s Aladdin. You already know the basic story of a street urchin who finds a magic lamp, and you already know a glorious handful of the songs from the classic animated movie. But this is a stage extravaganza like you wouldn’t believe, with stunning sets, incredible costumes and, in leading man Dean-John Wilson,a rising star in the title role. Aladdin begins its London run at the Prince Edward Theatre on 27 May.

Speaking of rising stars, this year’s winner of the Olivier Award for Best Theatre Choreographer, Drew McOnie, stages his dance interpretation of Jekyll And Hyde at The Old Vic from 20 May. Take this opportunity to see his work now so you can boast about getting in early when he’s a household name.

As household names go, Michael Crawford is up there with the best of them. The former Phantom Of The Opera star is back in London, leading the cast of new musical The Go-Between from 27 May at the Apollo.

Finally, I have to tell you about The Spoils, the acclaimed play by Batman V Superman star Jesse Eisenberg. It’s coming to the Trafalgar Studios from 27 May, with Eisenberg starring alongside The Big Bang Theory’s Kunal Nayyar.

... and last chance to see

As one hit US sitcom star enters the West End, so another leaves. You have until 14 May to see Matthew Perry – yes, Chandler from Friends – in his play The End Of Longing at the Playhouse Theatre.

Another Hollywood star is on their way earlier in the month, as Glenn Close’s too-short stint as Norma Desmond in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s classic Sunset Boulevard comes to a close at the London Coliseum on 7 May.

British TV’s hottest young actor, James Norton, also concludes his West End run this month. You have until 7 May to see him alongside an exceptional cast that includes Kate Fleetwood and Alec Newman, in Bug, the tale of two people on the edge, at Found111.

Also on their way out this month are biblical giggle-athon NotMoses (until 14 May at Arts Theatre), which follows the story of the baby bobbing in a basket who was not plucked from the Nile by an Egyptian princess, and Boris: World King (until 14 May at Trafalgar Studios 1), which makes the Mayor of London part of his own hilarious West End show.

The Big Interview Daniel Evans on bringing Show Boat to London

Sheffield Theatre’s Artistic Director Daniel Evans told Official London Theatre why now was the right time to revive Show Boat:

Show Boat is seminal. Everyone seems to know that. When you tell people you’re directing it, they usually say, “Isn’t that, like, the first ever musical?”, such is Show Boat’s fame. And yet, very few people seem to have actually seen it on stage. That’s probably because, traditionally, the musical was always considered to be a show of such enormous proportions – with a huge cast – that it was virtually impossible to produce. 

The original libretto contains so many moments which appear in numerous musicals later in the 20th century. However, Oscar Hammerstein II and Jerome Kern’s pioneering achievement goes deeper than mere events in their dramatic plot. After all, these were lifted directly from Edna Ferber’s atmospheric and detailed novel. Hammerstein and Kern broke the mould. They dared to do what no other contemporaneous authors would attempt at the time. They created a seamless story, interweaving dialogue and songs which explored serious and profound issues.

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