TICKETS: Mark’s Top Ten recommendations + this week’s openings (22 Feb)

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

I’m in New York this week, where I’ll be seeing Michael Grandage’s new production of Eugene O’Neill’s one-act play Hughie open on Thursday, as well as the recently opened The Humans and Mark Rylance in Nice Fish at St Ann’s Warehouse, amongst others.

I’m not missing any big openings in London, though I hope to catch the late Sarah Kane’s first appearance at the NT with Katie Mitchell’s revival of Kane’s 1998 play Cleansed (that opens on Tuesday) later in the run.


 

My top ten shows this week

1. 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 Willimas as one of the showgirls, plus Tracie Bennett in the title role, originally played by Judi Dench in the film. See my Stage review of last week’s opening of the transfer here.
2. 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. See my review for The Stage here.
3. 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. See my review for The Stage here.
4. Bend It Like Beckham
My favourite new musical of last year was the stage version of the 2002 film Bend It Like Beckham, featuring the glorious and soaring music of Howard Goodall. It has sadly been announced that it will close on 5 March at the end of the original cast’s contracts, so catch it now – or catch it again, as I intend to, as much as possible in the next few days. See my Stage review here.
5. Uncle Vanya
There isn’t a more up-and-coming director in town than Robert Icke, associate at the Almeida, who last year directed the award-winning Oresteia there that transferred to the West End. Now he does equally revelatory work on Chekhov’s enduring masterpiece, bringing it into the here and now with startling immediacy, and with an astonishing lead performance from Paul Rhys in the title role (actually re-named Uncle Johnny in this version).
6. The Encounter
Simon McBurney’s captivating solo show about a journey into a remote indigenous community in the Amazon forest pays amazing theatrical dividends, in a new form of storytelling that is whispered into your ears through headphones, re-processing his live words with sound effects. My interview with McBurney for The Stage is here. The Barbican run to 5 March is sold out, but on 1 March at 7.30pm it will be  streamed live from the Barbican to Complicite’s website and YouTube channel. It also tours after London to Manchester’s HOME from 17-10 March and Oxford Playhouse from 25-28 May.
7. Funny Girl
The entire run at the Menier (to March 5) is sold out – but it moves to the Savoy next from April 8 (to take over from Guys and Dolls), so book now to see the wonderful Sheridan Smith starring in the first major London revival of Jule Styne’s 1960s musical since its original premiere on Broadway and in the West End featured Barbra Streisand in the title role (as well as in the subsequent film version). See my review for The Stage here. My interview with Sheridan Smith for The Stage is here. 
8. The Mother
While Florian Zeller’s The Father is soon to make a return West End date at the Duke of York’s, his earlier play The Mother is currently to be seen at the Tricycle where Gina McKee plays the title role of a middle-aged woman losing her family. See my review for The Stage here.
9. Hangmen
Martin McDonagh’s latest thriller chiller comedy stars David Morrissey and Johnny Flynn, newly joined by Andy Nyman for its West End transfer to Wyndham’s (where it runs to March 5) from the Royal Court. My review of the Royal Court opening for London Theatre Guide is here. My interview with Andy Nyman (pictured) for The Stage is here.
10. Rabbit Hole 
David Lindsay-Abaire’s intense, and intensely moving, American drama about dealing with grief won the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 2008; now it makes its London debut at Hampstead Theatre in a stunningly acted production by Edward Hall that stars Claire Skinner and Tom Goodman-Hill as two bereaved parents dealing with the loss of their four-year-old son in very different ways. My review for The Stage is here.
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.
Read more...

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Leave a Comment