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Shows closing in September

August 17, 2010 

It’s all change in the West End next month as September sees a number of shows bid farewell.

La Bete

La Bete

September marks a busy time for Theatreland as a slate of new shows open in town, which means a number of summer hits are closing to make way.

This month, Sam Mendes’ Bridge Project shows at the Old Vic, As You Like It and The Tempest, starring Stephen Dillane and Juliet Rylance, closes on 21 August. They are swiftly followed by La Bete at the Comedy Theatre, which closes on 28 August before heading off to Broadway. The Matthew Warchus-helmed show features a starry cast including David Hyde Pearce, Mark Rylance and Joanna Lumley.

In September, things start to get really shaken up and we lose some of the big summer shows. In a reversal of La Bete, HAIR made its debut on Broadway and then came to London – and you only have until 4 September to see what all the fuss was about and catch the New York cast, including Gavin Creel, before they head home.

Burn The Floor

Burn The Floor

Also on the 4th we lose David Essex penned musical All The Fun of the Fair, and dance spectacular Burn The Floor , which is clearing its tango shoes and sequins out of the Shaftesbury Theatre to make room for another big dance show, Flashdance The Musical. This will star Matt Willis and Victoria Hamilton-Barritt and is choreographed by Arlene Phillips.

And it’s never just one big dance show that goes: butch and blue-collar Tap Dogs starring Adam Garcia is also leaving the West End the day after Burn The Floor, on 5 September.

The short run of The Secret of Sherlock Holmes, riding high after the BBC’s Sherlock series, will end on 11 September at the Duchess Theatre to make way for Michael Gambon in Krapp’s Last Tape.

And we wave goodbye to Jeff Goldblum and Mercedes Ruehl on 25 September as Neil Simon’s The Prisoner of Second Avenue leaves the Vaudeville Theatre.

BOOKING AND OFFERS

Save £19 on tickets to see HAIR at the Gielgud Theatre

Save £30 on tickets to see All The Fun of the Fair at the Garrick Theatre

Save £21 on tickets to see Burn The Floor at the Shaftesbury Theatre

Save £11 on tickets to see Tap Dogs at the Novello Theatre

Half Price tickets to see The Secret of Sherlock Holmes at the Duchess Theatre

Save £14 on tickets to see The Prisoner of Second Avenue at the Vaudeville Theatre

The Prisoner of Second Avenue

July 29, 2010 

Jeff Goldblum and Mercedes Ruehl star in Neil Simon’s comedy The Prisoner of Second Avenue at the Old Vic Theatre.

Prisoner of Second Avenue – Save £9

July 20, 2010 

Save £9 on tickets to The Prisoner of Second Avenue starring Jeff Goldblum at the Vaudeville Theatre in London

Save £9 on tickets to The Prisoner of Second Avenue starring Jeff Goldblum at the Vaudeville Theatre in London A new production of Neil Simon’s 1971 comedy The Prisoner of Second Avenue is the first West End project for Kevin Spacey’s Old Vic Theatre. The bitter-sweet comedy stars Hollywood actors Jeff Goldblum (Tall Guy) and Mercedes Ruehl (The Fisher King) for a limited season at the Vaudeville Theatre.

In the show Goldblum stars as Mel Edison, a man at breaking point. In the heat of a New York City summer his air-conditioning has broken, his neighbours won’t shut-up, his job is hanging by a thread and there are a gang of burglars on the prowl.

Terry Johnson, flush from his Tony success for La Cage Aux Folles on Broadway, directs the show.

Book tickets to The Prisoner of Second Avenue at the Vaudeville Theatre in London

The Prisoner of Second Avenue – Reviews Round-up

July 15, 2010 

The Prisoner of Second AvenueThe Old Vic’s first adventure north of the river under the stewardship of Kevin Spacey has not been a critical smash, but pleased the critics sufficiently to be a respectable launch pad for further projects.

The show’s performances, notably the two leads Jeff Goldblum and Mercedes Ruehl, and direction fared better with the critics than Neil Simon’s play.

The Prisoner of Second Avenue at the Vaudeville Theatre is a revival of Neil Simon’s 1971 comedy starring  In the show Goldblum stars as Mel Edison, a man at breaking point. In the heat of a New York City summer his air-conditioning has broken, his neighbours won’t shut-up, his job is hanging by a thread and there are a gang of burglars on the prowl.

Terry Johnson, flush from his Tony success for La Cage Aux Folles on Broadway, has directed the show.

Book tickets to The Prisoner of Second Avenue at the Vaudeville Theatre in London

The Prisoner of Second Avenue – Review

July 14, 2010 

Like Alan Ayckbourn, Neil Simon’s reputation has been built on a solid foundation of enduring comedies only a handful of which have successfully crossed the Atlantic.

Jeff Golblum and Mercedes Ruehl

Jeff Golblum and Mercedes Ruehl

For Americans, Ayckbourn’s humour is too British, and for the Brits Simon’s witty one-liners are too American. Also, what both writers have in common is that after initially establishing themselves with plays that made no concession to profundity, they set out, with varying degrees of success, to blend laughter with domestic angst as their comic horizons widened to take in some of the graver aspects of the human condition.

Simon’s The Prisoner of Second Avenue, produced in 1971 was the first of his plays with a serious undercurrent at its heart. It’s about the day to day travails of 47 year-old Mel Edison (Jeff Goldblum) and his wife Edna (Mercedes Ruehl) as they attempt to fend off the frustrations imposed on them simply by being middle-class New Yorkers, living in a middle-class part of Manhattan, in a middle-class apartment Mel describes as ‘an egg box that leaks.’

The paper-thin walls are cracked, the air-conditioner doesn’t work, the window in their bedroom doesn’t open and the toilet won’t stop flushing unless it’s jiggled. Noise is also a problem. At 2.30 in the morning, ‘there’s one car driving round in Jackson Heights and we can hear it,’ Mel complains, not to mention the noise of the subway, barking dogs and inconsiderately loud neighbours. On top of that, it’s sweltering hot, the garbage stinks – and we’re still only in the first scene!

In scene two, their apartment is burgled and Mel announces that he and a handful of his colleagues at work have been fired.

Inevitably, as this Job-like scenario continues to unfurl, Mel suffers a mini breakdown necessitating Edna finding an office job herself. But even that doesn’t last and, after a visit from his four siblings, who tentatively offer to help the couple financially, the play ends with Mel surfacing from his breakdown and Edna heading towards one of her own.

Though some of Simon’s plays have a dated quality to them, the financial crisis we’re currently in the midst of makes a revival of Prisoner fortuitous. And because there’s no feel-good, happy-ever-after ending, there’s an edge to the piece absent from most mainstream Simon.

The structure, however, isn’t all that satisfactory. The Edison’s two collegegoing daughters are barely mentioned so that what should really have been a two-hander is compromised by the unnecessary appearance of his brothers and sisters in a scene that contributes little, if anything, to the play other than adding four additional salaries to the paylist.

As Mel, Jeff Goldblum, terrific in the recent revival of David Mamet’s Speed the Plow, gives the role a pretty good shot, but is basically miscast. His trademark physical shtick is predictably engaging but its very effectiveness draws attention away from the pain engendered by the character’s mid-life crisis. What we’re looking at is a funny performance from a delightfully quirky actor rather than an honest portrait of a man in deep despair.

Mercedes Ruehl, on the other hand, is always believable as the long-suffering Edna, which makes her own mini-crisis all the more affecting.

Totally believable too is Lionel Haft as Mel’s older brother Harry. Believable but unnecessary. Terry Johnson directs with his usual flair for comedy, and Rob Howell’s set is spot-on.

Vaudeville Theatre

CLIVE HIRSCHHORN. Courtesy of This Is London.

Book tickets to The Prisoner of Second Avenue at the Vaudeville Theatre

Old Vic’s first West End adventure

July 13, 2010 

Old Vic make journey into the West End with The Prisoner of Second Avenue

THE PRISONER OF SECOND AVENUE

Kevin Spacey’s Old Vic theatre company will open its first West End show tonight, at the Vaudeville Theatre on the Strand.

A new production of Neil Simon’s 1971 comedy The Prisoner of Second Avenue is the first project for the theatre company in the West End, and stars Hollywood actors Jeff Goldblum (Tall Guy) and Mercedes Ruehl (The Fisher King) for a limited season at the Vaudeville Theatre.

In the show Goldblum stars as Mel Edison, a man at breaking point. In the heat of a New York City summer his air-conditioning has broken, his neighbours won’t shut-up, his job is hanging by a thread and there are a gang of burglars on the prowl.

Terry Johnson, flush from his Tony success for La Cage Aux Folles on Broadway, directs the show.

Book tickets to The Prisoner of Second Avenue at the Vaudeville Theatre in London

ALSO OPENING THIS WEEK:

GHOST STORIES

Wednesday sees the opening of Ghost Stories at the Duke of York’s Theatre in London, following a sell-out season run at the Lyric Hammersmith.

A truly terrifying theatrical experience written and directed by The League of Gentlemen’s master of the macabre, Jeremy Dyson, and Andy Nyman, co-creator and director of Derren Brown’s television and stage shows and star of Dead Set and Severance.

As three men gather together, each has an uncanny, chilling tale to tell. Ghost Stories played a hugely successful run at the Lyric Hammersmith before transferring to the Duke of York’s theatre in the West End. The show stars Nicholas Burns, David Cardy, Ryan Gage and Andy Nyman.

The show is strictly for theatregoers aged 16 and older.

Book tickets to Ghost Stories at the Duke of York’s Theatre in London

Summer Theatre in the West End

June 28, 2010 

New shows opening in London this summer

UPDATE: CHECK OUT OUR LATEST GUIDE TO SUMMER SHOWS IN THE WEST END FOR 2014 – HERE

Spring and autumn may be the busiest times for new shows in London, but this summer will still pack quite a punch with some big names, high-profile directors and a few surprises in store.

A range of musicals and plays will open in the capital over the next few months, including classic musicals from Stephen Sondheim (Into the Woods) and Rogers & Hammerstein (State Fair); starry comedy, including David Hyde Pearce and Joanna Lumley in La Bete, Jeff Goldblum in The Prisoner of Second Avenue and Simon Russell Beal and Jonathan Groff in Deathtrap); dance spectaculars (Burn the Floor), new musicals (Wolfboy), ambitious children’s drama (The Railway Children) and a terrifying new play (Ghost Stories).

Read more

MERCEDES RUEHL in The Prisoner of Second Avenue

June 1, 2010 

American film and stage star to play Neil Simon comedy

Film and stage star Mercedes Ruehl will appear in the Old Vic in the West End’s new production of Neil Simon’s comedy The Prisoner of Second Avenue, at the Vaudeville Theatre from 30 June to 11 September.

In the show Ruehl stars as loyal wife Edna, who has to pick up the pieces when her husband, Mel, has a New York meltdown.

The play is directed by Terry Johnson, flush from his Tony Award success for La Cage Aux Folles, and also stars Hollywood’s Jeff Goldblum as Mel.

Mercedes Ruehl won an Oscar for her performance in The Fisher King and multiple awards including a Tony for her Broadway performance in Neil Simon’s Lost in Yonkers, alongside Old Vic Artistic Director Kevin Spacey.

Book tickets to The Prisoner of Second Avenue at the Vaudeville Theatre in London.

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