This week’s West End openings range from classic American drama to modern Greek tragedy, with Pittsburgh flashdancing and West End blues thrown in. Plus the 80th birthday of a Wicked West End theatre.
THE COUNTRY GIRL
Opening tonight, Monday 11 October, at the Apollo Theatre is Clifford Odets’s classic drama The Country Girl, about a once-great theatre star who is given the chance to make a major comeback.
Jenny Seagrove and Martin Shaw reunite on stage after their onscreen appearance in Judge John Deed to star in the show.
On Tuesday 12 October at the Novello Theatre Robert Lindsay opens in Onassis, playing controversial Greek tycoon Aristotle in Martin Sherman’s new play. Based on the last years of this life, this powerful drama reveals his passionate and interwoven relationships with Jackie Kennedy and Maria Callas, and his son Alexandros. Stand-out supporting performances come from Anna Francolini as Callas and Lydia Leonard as Jackie.
FLASHDANCE THE MUSICAL
Despite technical problems with the rain machine that postponed the start of previews, Flashdance the Musical is set for a trouble-free first night on Thursday 14 October at the Shaftesbury Theatre.
Based on the 80s movie about an 18 year old girl from Pittsburgh who is a welder by day and a ‘flashdancer” by night, the musical features the star of the UK tour, Victoria Hamilton Barritt, and former Busted boyband member Matt Willis. Grease producer David Ian is the man behind the show, with direction by Nikolai Foster and choreography by the ubiquitous Arlene Phillips. The show’s well-known score includes Maniac, Manhunt, Gloria and the Academy Award winning title song Flashdance – What a Feeling. Ten original songs have also been created for the musical.
THE BARBER OF SEVILLE
Thursday also sees the opening night for the new venture at the King’s Head pub theatre in Islington: London’s Little Opera House opens with a new version of The Barber of Seville, directed by Robin Norton-Hale. Artistic director Adam Spreadbury-Maher is promising an exciting season of opera on a small scale including Madame Butterfly as a Bangkok lady-boy.
THE MUSIC OF THE BLUES BROTHERS – A TRIBUTE
Finally, on Friday 15 October Hartshorn – Hook Productions presents ‘The Music of the Blues Brothers – a Tribute’, the most electric rock’n’roll party of the year. Following spectacular success at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this summer with a month of sell-out shows and 5-star reviews, this raucous live tribute show is now rolling into London. This Tribute is directed by the award-winning Patrick Wilde and is backed by the tightest rhythm and blues band in the city. We tear through the best in American Blues, Soul and Rock’n’Roll classics including Gimme Some Lovin, Think, Minnie The Moocher, Sweet Home Chicago, and Jailhouse Rock. So dig out your sunglasses and get ready to shake your tail feather because this supercharged high-octane Tribute is about to take London by storm.
APOLLO VICTORIA THEATRE
Friday also sees the 80th birthday of the Apollo Victoria Theatre in London. Celebrations have included an all-star charity gala yesterday, Sunday 10 October, featuring the cast of the venue’s current show, Wicked, and past productions including Starlight Express. The Apollo Victoria forms part of a historic year for West End theatres, with a number of venues celebrating their 80th anniversaries this year.
Designed by E. Wamsley Lewis and W E Trent, the Apollo Victoria originally opened as a cinema on 15 October 1930 showing George Arlis movie “Old English”.