Show: Red Velvet
Venue: Garrick Theatre, WC2H
Date: closes 27 February
Cast: Ayesha Antoine, Simon Chandler, Alexander Cobb, Mark Edel-Hunt, Emun Elliott, Adrian Lester, Charlotte Lucas, Caroline Martin, Amy Morgan
Summary: Theatre Royal, Covent Garden, 1833. Edmund Kean, the greatest actor of his generation, has collapsed on stage whilst playing Othello. A young black American actor has been asked to take over the role. But as the public riot in the streets over the abolition of slavery, how will the cast, critics and audience react to the revolution taking place in the theatre? Directed by Indhu Rubasingham, Red Velvet sees Olivier-Award winning actor Adrian Lester will reprise his role as Ira Aldridge.
Show: The World Goes Round: The Songs of Kander & Ebb
Venue: St James Theatre, The Studio, SW1E
Date: closes 7 February
Cast: Steffan Lloyd-Evans, Sally Samad and Alexandra Da Silva.
Summary: Featuring songs from the legendary Broadway songwriting duo behind shows including Chicago, Cabaret, Flora the Red Menace, Kiss of the Spider Woman, The Rink and 70 Girls 70 and The Act. So expect the likes ‘All That Jazz’, ‘Cabaret’, ‘Mr Cellophane’, ‘New York, New York’ and many more. The show transfers to St James Theatre following its première at the Pheasantry in Chelsea.
Show: Mr Rainey’s Black Bottom
Venue: National Theatre, Lyttelton Theatre, SE1
Date: closes 18 May
Cast: Sharon D Clarke, Ricardo Coke-Thomas, John Paul Connolly, Jermaine Dominique, Jermaine Dominique, O-T Fagbenle, Tamara Lawrance
Summary: Ma Rainey, Mother of the Blues, uses every trick in the book to fight her record producers for control of her music. Hardened by years of ill-treatment and bad deals, she’s determined that ‘Black Bottom’, the song that bears her name, will be recorded her way. Set in 1927 Levee, the band’s swaggering young trumpet player, plans to catapult the band into the jazz age. His ambition puts them all in danger. Inspired by the real-life Blues legend and infused with her music, August Wilson’s play speaks powerfully of a struggle for self-determination against overwhelming odds.
Show: Road Show
Venue: Union Theatre, SE1
Date: closes 5 March
Summary: Ill matched pair Wilson and Addison embark on a journey to make their fortune by cross the US. Stopping off at some of the key moments which shaped modern America, this is a moving story of love, antagonism and reconciliation between two brothers, whilst giving an insight into a nation in transition. It features a romance between between Addison and an idealistic young male artist and includes Sondheim’s first openly gay characters and one of his most haunting love songs, notably sung by one man to another. Road Show is the latest production in the Union’s long association with the musicals of Stephen Sondheim.
Show: Carnival Dreams: The Musical
Venue: Fairfield Halls, Ashcroft Theatre, CR9
Date: closes 6 February
Cast: Cheryl Ferguson, Tom whalley, Vicky Hoyles, Ryan Ogden
Summary: It’s Carnival time in Argentina and a small community dance group is preparing for the annual Samba competition. Former dance champion Andre is working hard to cope with his own problems alongside trying to inject much needed passion into the work. But, senior dance tutor Jose’s bullying and bigotry does little to raise morale. Jose is consumed with contempt for the people who surround him. A bible-quoting misogynist who physically and mentally abuses his wife Teresa, Jose delights in trying to humiliate the flamboyantly camp drag queen Carmen and is determined to quash the growing romance between his daughter Cristina and Duarte, whose only crime is the colour of his skin. This new musical written by Norman Mark with hauntingly original music by Robert Orledge and directed by Andrew Lynford, will make you laugh and cry, it will shock and inspire and most importantly remind us to fight injustice and prejudice and embrace our wonderfully diverse communities.
Show: The Master Builder
Venue: Old Vic Theatre, SE1
Date: closes 19 March
Cast: Charlie Cameron, James Dreyfus, Linda Emond, Ralph Fiennes
Summary: The master builder, Halvard Solness has a fear of falling. As self-made man, without professional qualifications, he has achieved domination in the town, but he is increasingly frightened of being displaced by the young. Then one day a woman appears from the mountains, claiming to have previously known Solness, and telling him of a promise he made to her when she was thirteen. Henrik Ibsen’s masterpiece The Master Builder comes to The Old Vic in a lively new adaptation by multi-award winning David Hare.
Show: The Winter’s Tale
Venue: Globe Theatre, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, SE1
Date: closes 22 April
Cast: Simon Armstrong, Jessica Baglow, Tia Bannon, Sam Cox, Niamh Cusack, Steffan Donnelly, James Garnon, Dennis Herdman, Tom Kanji
Summary: A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see Shakespeare’s late, great plays in the kind of theatre they were written for – the intimate, candlelit, indoor Playhouse. Hermione, queen to King Leontes, is tried for adultery, found guilty and reported dead, and the old friendship of two kings is torn apart by jealousy and suspicion. Leontes, discovering his wife’s innocence, is inconsolable with guilt and grief. But art, time and providence can draw regeneration from his remorse. Keeping the human and divine in exquisite balance, The Winter’s Tale combines the exotic and magical with the realistic psychology of the tragedies.
Show: I Loved Lucy
Venue: Jermyn Street Theatre, SW1
Date: closes 27 February
Cast: Sandra Dickinson, Matthew Bunn
Summary: Lucille Ball remains one of Hollywood’s best loved stars. With her trademark red hair and goofy persona, she will always be remembered as the crazy, accident-prone, lovable Lucy Ricardo on her groundbreaking 1950s TV sitcom, I Love Lucy, which co-starred her real-life husband Desi Arnaz. Now, the play I Loved Lucy takes a closer look at the comedic entertainer by those who knew her. Lee Tannen’s funny, bitter-sweet play, gets its UK premiere in a four-week season at Jermyn Street Theatre and reveals the real-life Lucy and what is was like being her friend to the end.
Show: Hand to God
Venue: Vauderville Theatre
Date: closes 19 February
Cast: Janie Dee, Neil Pearson, Harry Melling, Jemina Rooper, Kevin Mains
Summary: One dead father, a messed up family and a girl who just wants to help and one hand puppet who is completely out of control, who acts shockingly without taking any prisoners. All hell is breaking out at the Vaudeville Theatre as this hilarious and provocative new comedy lands direct from Broadway, where the New York Times hailed it “flat-out hilarious” and the New Yorker called it “Sesame Street meets The Exorcist”.
Venue: Young Vic Theatre, Se1
Date: closes 27 February
Cast: Carole Karemera, Jared McNeill, Ery Nzaramba, Sean O’Callaghan, Toshi Tsuchitori
Summary: The devastation of war is tearing the Bharata family apart. The new king must unravel a mystery: how can he live with himself in the face of the devastation and massacres that he has caused. An immense canvas in miniature, this central section of the ancient text is timeless and contemporary, asking how we can find inner peace in a world riven with conflict.