UK theatre casting news – November update

Theatre Royal Bath will reopen on 3 December with a revised performance schedule for Oleanna and Copenhagen, the final two plays in the theatre’s Welcome Back Season.

David Mamet’s provocative  drama Oleanna, directed by Lucy Bailey will star Rosie Sheehy  and Jonathan Slinger, who replaces John Heffernan in the role of John. The play will now run in Theatre Royal Bath’s Ustinov Studio from 3 December to 22 December and again from 4 January to 16 January 2021. Reduced capacity at the Ustinov Studio will allow for an audience of 60 persons per performance.

The November run of Michael Frayn’s multi award-winning  Copenhagen has been postponed until the new year when it will play Theatre Royal Bath’s Main House from 20 January to 6 February 2021.  Directed by Polly Findlay it will star Haydn Gwynne, Philip Arditti, and in a change to original billing of Michael Gould, Malcolm Sinclair.


Following the latest lockdown measures in England, Curve has rescheduled The Color Purple in concert to Monday 1 to Saturday 13 Mar 2021Sunset Boulevard in concert will now open slightly later than originally planned and run Friday 18 Dec – Saturday 9 Jan. Dates for Memoirs of an Asian Football Casual remain unchanged (Monday 25 Jan to Saturday 6 Feb). 

Joining the previously announced Ria Jones as Norma Desmond and Danny Mac as Joe Gillis in Sunset Boulevard will be a host of original company members from Curve’s award-winning 2017 touring production. Molly Lynch will reprise her role as Betty Schaefer, Adam Pearce returns as Max Von Mayerling, Dougie Carter as Artie Green and Carl Sanderson as Cecil B DeMille.

The Sunset Boulevard company will also include Benjamin ChambersOwen ChapondaJoanna GoodwinKristoffer HellströmJames MeunierGemma NaylorJoanna O’HareJessica PaulSam Peggs and Barney Wilkinson.

Led by the previously announced T’Shan Williams as Celie, original company members of Curve’s 2019 production of The Color Purple, including KM Drew BoatengOwen Chaponda, Perola Congo, Danielle Kassarate, Anelisa Lamola, Karen Mavundukure, Rosemary Annabella Nkrumah, Landi Oshinowo, Simon Anthony Rhoden and Jo Servi, will also return to Curve’s stage next year. Due to prior commitments, Danielle Fiamanya is now unable to join as Nettie in the rescheduled performances.

Based on Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, performances of this evocative and life-affirming musical will be directed by Tinuke Craig, with a six-piece orchestra led by Musical Director Alex Parker. The team will be joined by Set Designer Alex Lowde and Choreographer Mark Smith

Both productions of Sunset Boulevard and The Color Purple will be lit by Curve Associate Ben Cracknell, with sound design from Tom Marshall.

Memoirs of an Asian Football Casual will see award-nominated Leicester actor Hareet Deol reprise his role as Suf Khan in Dougal Irvine’s drama based on the real life of reformed Leicester football hooligan Riaz Khan, who will also rejoin the cast. Director Nikolai Foster will once again bring the 80s streets of Leicester to life on Curve’s stage, with design from Grace Smart. Lighting Designer Charlotte Burton and Composer Tasha Taylor Johnson also join the show’s production team.


Sheffield Theatres and Evolution Pantomimes have announced the cast for Damian’s Pop–Up Panto! at the Crucible Theatre. Joining legendary Dame, Damian Williams, are comedian, presenter and internet dancing sensation Joe Tracini (CBBC’s The DengineersHollyoaks), West End star Gemma Sutton (Gypsy, Follies, Girl From the North Country), Lucas Rush (Rock of Ages) and Deborah Tracey (Standing at the Sky’s Edge).

A festive fun-sized treat for the whole family, Damian’s Pop-Up Panto! is written and directed by regular pantomime producer Paul Hendy. Sheffield Theatres and Evolution Pantomimes have produced the Sheffield Lyceum pantomime for 14 years. This year, the panto relocates across Tudor Square to the Crucible Theatre.

News: Almeida and Turbine reopen, Oleanna cast

The Almeida has announce their new programme of socially-distanced theatre for Christmas 2020 and into 2021:

Nine Lessons And Carols: stories for a long winter, a new production created by Associate Director Rebecca Frecknall, Chris Bush and a company of six actors – Naana Agyei-Ampadu, Katie Brayben, Toheeb Jimoh, Elliot Levey, Maimuna Memon and Luke Thallon.

The Maladies, performed by the Almeida Young Company (18-25), written by Carmen Nasr.

Hymn, a new play by Lolita Chakrabarti, featuring Adrian Lester and Danny Sapani. Continue reading “News: Almeida and Turbine reopen, Oleanna cast”

News: 7 star-studded plays — streaming only on TomorrowTix

Spotlight on Plays from Broadway’s Best Shows is the virtual theatre experience you’ve been waiting for. It’s Morgan Freeman, Patti LuPone, Laura Linney, Paul Mescal, Alan Cumming, and more of the world’s top actors performing their hearts out in a series of must-see plays, live from their living rooms — while you watch from yours.

Right now, get pay-what-you-can tix to 7 upcoming virtual productions by some of the most popular playwrights ever. These tickets are available only on TomorrowTix and every single purchase supports The Actor’s Fund.

Continue reading “News: 7 star-studded plays — streaming only on TomorrowTix”

10 of my top moments of the decade

Ever behind the curve, I present 10 of my top moments in a theatre over the last ten years (plus a few bonus extra ones because whittling down this list was hard, and it will probably be different tomorrow anyway!)

© James Bellorini

Extraordinary Public Acts for a National Theatre

The establishment of the Public Acts programme at the National Theatre offered up something sensational in Pericles, an initiative designed to connect grassroot community organisations with major theatres, resulting in a production that swept over 200 non-professional performers onto the stage of the Olivier to create something that moved me more than 99% of professional productions.  A truly joyous and momentous occasion. 

Honourable mention: this year’s musical take on As You Like It proved just as heart-swellingly beautiful over at the Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch. Continue reading “10 of my top moments of the decade”

Emphatically-not-a-review: Bitter Wheat, Garrick Theatre

I’d intended to let Bitter Wheat languish unthought-about forever more but last week’s Harvey Weinstein episode provoked this

Amber Anderson,
Lysette Anthony,
Asia Argento,
Rosanna Arquette,
Jessica Barth,
Kate Beckinsale,
Zoë Brock,
Juls Bindi,
Cynthia Burr,
Cate Blanchett,
Liza Campbell,
Alexandra Canosa,
Rowena Chiu,
Marisa Coughlan,
Emma de Caunes,
Hope Exiner d’Amore,
Florence Darel,
Cara Delevingne,
Paz de la Huerta,
Juliana De Paula,
Sophie Dix,
Lacey Dorn,
Kaitlin Doubleday,
Caitlin Dulaney,
Dawn Dunning,
Lina Esco,
Alice Evans,
Lucia Evans, formerly Lucia Stoller,
Angie Everhart,
Claire Forlani,
Romola Garai,
Louisette Geiss,
Louise Godbold,
Judith Godrèche,
Trish Goff,
Larissa Gomes,
Heather Graham,
Eva Green,
Ambra Gutierrez, formerly Ambra Battilana,
Mimi Haleyi,
Daryl Hannah,
Salma Hayek,
Lena Headey,
Anne Heche,
Lauren Holly,
Dominique Huett,
Amy Israel,
Angelina Jolie,
Ashley Judd,
Minka Kelly,
Katherine Kendall,
Heather Kerr,
Mia Kirshner,
Myleene Klass,
Emma Loman (alias),
Laura Madden,
Natassia Malthe,
Julianna Margulies,
Brit Marling,
Sarah Ann Masse,
Ashley Matthau,
Rose McGowan,
Natalie Mendoza,
Sophie Morris,
Katya Mtsitouridze,
Emily Nestor,
Jennifer Siebel Newsom,
Connie Nielsen,
Kadian Noble,
Lupita Nyong’o,
Lauren O’Connor,
Gwyneth Paltrow,
Samantha Panagrosso,
Zelda Perkins,
Vu Thu Phuong,
Sarah Polley,
Monica Potter,
Tomi-Ann Roberts,
Lisa Rose,
Erika Rosenbaum,
Melissa Sagemiller,
Annabella Sciorra,
Léa Seydoux,
Lauren Sivan,
Chelsea Skidmore,
Mira Sorvino,
Tara Subkoff,
Melissa Thompson
Uma Thurman,
Paula Wachowiak,
Paula Williams,
Sean Young

Continue reading “Emphatically-not-a-review: Bitter Wheat, Garrick Theatre”

Review: Glengarry Glen Ross, Playhouse

“We’re a dying breed”

Obviously, the choice to stage David Mamet’s ode to toxic masculinity Glengarry Glen Ross was made long before the hashtag #MeToo shattered the blinkers of anyone unaware of what men have been getting away with. But it feels indicative of a theatrical culture that has reflected and reinforced a societal imbalance – all-male plays, written by men, directed by men, lauded by prize ceremonies and thus easy targets (and safer bets) for revivals, a self-perpetuating loop that doesn’t seem to even be coming close to stopping. 

And why should it, one might argue. Sam Yates’ production is astutely cast and tightly wound as it visits the world of Chicago real estate. Firstly through a set of short duologues in a Chinese restaurant in which we variously meet a set of salesmen and discover their place in the pecking order. And then after the interval, they’re all brought together in their office (an impressive almighty set change from Chiara Stephenson) which has been broken into and where all the frustrations and feelings they’ve been bottling up now come tumbling free.  Continue reading “Review: Glengarry Glen Ross, Playhouse”

Review: American Buffalo, Wyndhams

“Don’t confuse business with pleasure”

On our way up to the balcony of the Wyndham’s Theatre, passing the posters of the numerous past productions this venue has hosted, I was struck by a rather neat coincidence. 2005 saw David Lan’s As You Like It star Helen McCrory and Sienna Miller as a ‘40s and French Rosalind and Celia and it just so happens that the former’s husband (Damian Lewis) and the latter’s partner (Tom Sturridge) are now starring in the theatre’s latest show – American Buffalo – alongside Coyote Ugly actor John Goodman. 

As for the play itself, it left me a little cold to be honest. My review for Official Theatre is here and whilst I thought there was some great acting on display, the pieces just didn’t connect for me. Have a read and let us know what you think. 

Running time:2 hours 15 minutes (with interval)
Booking until 27th June 

(Not really a) Review: Speed-The-Plow, Playhouse Theatre

“I think I’m being punished for my wickedness”

When did we become a society so keen on a hot mess? I’m as guilty as anyone for finding guilty pleasure in (some of) the car crashes that increasingly clutter our television screens and if I protest that it’s only really the likes of Greg(g) Wallace I want to see make a fool of themselves on the dancefloor, one can equally argue that that is just the thin end of the wedge. Lindsay Lohan found herself very much at the deep end when the announcement that she would be making her stage debut in David Mamet’s Speed-The-Plow was first made, scepticism rather than enthusiasm being the prevailing tone, and the gleeful reports of a challenging first preview – which have been so incredibly widely reported (and again, I’m no innocent here) – would seem to indicate that many would like nothing more than to see her fall flat on her face.

Whatever the perceived sins of a celebrity, it’s not a particularly good look on any of us, this baying for failure and so I thought I do my best to redress the balance a little. I caught the show on Saturday night (still in preview, opening night is this coming Thursday) to find that Richard Schiff was off sick and understudy Adam Morris would be playing Bobby Gould. Morris was impressively almost entirely off-book (he also performed the matinée that day) and it just goes to show the unpredictability of theatre work, something that any theatrical debutante would have to get used to, especially when a production is in such early days as these. That’s not to place anyone beyond reproach but merely a recognition that getting a play up and running with delayed starts, cast changes and all in the first week alone is no mean feat. Continue reading “(Not really a) Review: Speed-The-Plow, Playhouse Theatre”

Review: Race, Hampstead

“What can you say to a black man on the subject of race?”

The Bee Gees once sang ‘it’s only words’ and that was my abiding sentiment as I left the Hampstead Theatre after seeing David Mamet’s Race. Circumstance conspired to prevent me from seeing this on the press night and I allowed myself to be convinced to try again to see it, but it was one of those instances where fate should have been allowed to play out. Even over its short running time, Race rarely feels like a piece of coherent drama spoken by fully-fleshed characters but rather a collection of ideas strung together and placed into mouthpieces.
Its subject is right there in the title, centred on the debate in a lawyer’s office about whether to take on a politically charged case of alleged rape involving a (presciently Strauss-Kahn-like) powerful man. The case is deemed problematic by the defendant being a black woman, the accused a white man, and it is further complicated by the inter-racial dynamics of this law firm. Throw in some gender politics and the rich/poor divide and the scene is set for some coruscating debate on some eternally pressing issues, but Mamet fudges it completely.


A pre-set defeatist tone about anything to do with race neuters much of the argument made within. And there is a lot of it right from the off – the playwright’s customary sharpness with his dialogue is present and expertly performed in Terry Johnson’s production – but a weariness soon sets in as fiery cynicism and manipulative self-interest means there’s less debate and more pronouncement, this is one iceberg with no hidden depths. 

Clarke Peters and Jasper Britton as the lawyers neatly suggest a lengthy shared history despite the sketchy characterisation and Nina Toussaint-White works well as the enigmatic newcomer to the firm who, as is becoming a little too predictable with Mamet, has a game-changing secret up her sleeve. Daish’s accused rapist though never feels like a real person, no realism at all to his situation and so there’s just not enough power to underline the noise of this play which is ultimately all just confrontational bluster. 

Running time: 80 minutes (with interval)
Booking until 29th June

Review: The Shawl, Young Vic

“You’re not prepared to live life without mystery”

This production of David Mamet’s The Shawl is a little bit of a curiosity which has popped up at the Young Vic’s Clare studio for a brief 10 day run. Directed by the 2012 Genesis Future Director’s Award winner Ben Kidd, it is only a short play – coming in at just under an hour – but one which is slinkily persuasive in its portrayal of a conman who may or may not have psychic powers and it is given a rather interesting production here, full of great ideas.

The first – which is sadly under-developed – is that the audience are all spirits watching the events of the play. Small video screens are mounted on the walls and occasionally show cctv footage of the characters outside but when they move into the main room, they are alone – the chairs on which we sit are all shown to be empty. It is a wonderfully striking image but one which passed by very quickly and was never really touched on, indeed the screens were used rather sparingly throughout which felt like an opportunity that could have been somehow pushed further. Continue reading “Review: The Shawl, Young Vic”