TICKETS: Mark’s Top Ten recommendations this week (12 Apr)

In Features, London theatre, Musicals, Native, Opinion, Plays, Reviews, Ticket recommendations by Mark ShentonLeave a Comment

After the hiatus of the Olivier and Also Recognised Awards last week, which current productions make Mark Shenton’s revised list of top ten recommendations? Hint: there are two new entries amongst the risers and fallers.

 

My top ten shows this week –
Click on each to BUY TICKETS

1. People, Places and Things
Harrowing, intense, emotional, gripping and exhilarating, Duncan Macmillan’s transfer from the National to the West End’s Wyndham’s even had the critics on their feet for the first night standing ovation. As Fiona Mounford declared in her five-star review for the Evening Standard, “It’s rare to see a group of critics, cynical devils that we are, rise to their feet for a sweeping standing ovation on a press night. But this wasn’t any old opening, or any old leading actress. For my money, Denise Gough gives the greatest stage performance since Mark Rylance in Jerusalem.” And (for once) I entirely concur with Mountford. >> BUY TICKETS
2. Les Blancs
The National is on a roll at the moment: as well as People, Places and Things and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, there’s also this utterly astonishing production of a virtually unknown play by Lorraine Hansberry. Best known for A Raisin in the Sun, she never finished this play before her death at the age of just 34, of pancreatic cancer. But now the National has visionary South African director Yael Farber directing a ritualistic production that burns with rage and feeling in is portrait of an African country falling apart on the edge of civil war. An outstanding cast is led by the magnificent, towering Danny Sapani, and also includes  Sian Phillips, Elliot Cowan, James Fleet and Anna Madley. >> BUY TICKETS
3. The Book of Mormon
I’ve not seen this gloriously irreverent, hilariously knowing musical send-up of Mormonism and musicals themselves since its 2013 West End opening night – and returning to see it again nearly three years later it remains as fresh, funny and brilliant as it was then. The current cast is led by American imports KJ Hippensteel as Elder Price and Brian Sears as Elder Cunningham, while Olivier Award-winning Stephen Ashfield remains in the cast as Elder McKinley. >> BUY TICKETS
4. Nell Gwynn
A ravishing, rambunctious and hilarious new play by Jessica Swale that’s about a love affair both in and of the theatre, revolving around the true story of the 17th century actress who ended up as mistress to KIng Charles II. First seen at Shakespeare’s Globe for a run of just 11 performances last summer, it now gets a West End transfer the Apollo, starring the wonderful Gemma Arterton in the title role of Chris Luscombe’s production.  Shakespeare’s Globe previously also transferred Twelfth Night and Richard III with Mark Rylance to the same theatre. >> BUY TICKETS
5. Motown
Not everyone loved this one – critical opinion was, to say the least, mixed. But even though I thought it was a bit of a cruise ship revue when I first saw it on Broadway, seeing it again in London, with a really fine, mostly British cast pumping out the hits, warmed me to this show’s infectious and multiple pleasures. There simply hasn’t been a songstack quite like it in a jukebox musical ever – sure, it’s a pity some of the songs get cut off in their prime and the book makes Rock of Ages seem deep, but I still loved it!   >> BUY TICKETS
6. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
The National revisit August Wilson’s early play in his ten-play cycle of American black experience across the last century that they previously presented the UK premiere of back in 1989 to offer a stunning new production in the Lyttelton, starring Sharon D Clarke in the title role. Lucian Msamati, who’ll play Salieri in the NT’s  forthcoming production of Amadeus, is extraordinary, too, amongst a superb ensemble that also features Clint Dyer and Giles Terera.  >> BUY TICKETS
7. In the Heights
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s 2008 Tony winning Broadway musical returns to London in the exhilarating production first seen at Southwark Playhouse last year, and now at the new Olivier-eligible King’s Cross Theatre, where has now extended until October. I saw it again last week and it remains brilliant – and a vivid reminder that Hamilton, the current smash hit Broadway show, didn’t happen in a vacuum, but its creator’s musical and lyrical inventiveness was on full display already in this show. It it up for this weekend’s Olivier Award for Best New Musical, with David Bedella also nominated for Best Supporting Performance. The thrilling choreography is by Drew McOnie, who will soon be represented at the Old Vic by Jekyll and Hyde that he is creating for the venue, opening in May.  >> BUY TICKETS
8. How The Other Half Loves
Alan Ayckbourn – soon to premiere his 80th play at his home base of Scarborough – sees his 1969 comedy revived in the West End, with a cast that includes Nicholas Le Prevost, Jenny Seagrove and Tamzin Outhwaite. Absolutely ingeniously, it has two dinner parties on consecutive nights staged simultaneously staged in different houses on the same set. >> BUY TICKETS
9. Guys and Dolls
I can’t wait to go back to see Guys and Dolls now that it has newly transferred from the Savoy Theatre to the Phoenix, with three of its four principals re-cast. I am especially looking forward to seeing Oliver Tompsett, who is possessed of one of the best male voices in British musical theatre, inheriting the role of Sky Masterson from Jamie Parker, and Samantha Spiro as Miss Adelaide.  >> BUY TICKETS
10. Mrs Henderson Presents
Transfer from Bath Theatre Royal of this touching, terrific new musical version of the 2005 British film set backstage and frontstage at the Windmill Theatre, which offered audiences live, nude (but completely immobile) women. The cast includes Emma Williams  as one of the showgirls, plus Tracie Bennett in the title role, originally played by Judi Dench in the film. >> BUY TICKETS
Mark Shenton on FacebookMark Shenton on Twitter
Mark Shenton
My Theatre Mates co-founder Mark Shenton is one of the UK’s leading theatre critics and correspondents, whose regular credits include LondonTheatre, Playbill.com and The Stage, where he is contributing editor. He chairs the drama section of the Critics’ Circle, and hosts the annual Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards, held at the Prince of Wales Theatre. He blogs independently at www.shentonstage.com and tweets @ShentonStage.

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Mark Shenton on FacebookMark Shenton on Twitter
Mark Shenton
My Theatre Mates co-founder Mark Shenton is one of the UK’s leading theatre critics and correspondents, whose regular credits include LondonTheatre, Playbill.com and The Stage, where he is contributing editor. He chairs the drama section of the Critics’ Circle, and hosts the annual Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards, held at the Prince of Wales Theatre. He blogs independently at www.shentonstage.com and tweets @ShentonStage.

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