Friday theatre news from the National Theatre, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie and Roles We’ll Never Play
In a canny move, the National Theatre is bringing panto to its main stage as Jude Christian and Cariad Lloyd’s hilarious and heartfelt version ofDick Whittington, first staged at Lyric Hammersmith in 2018 and freshly updated for 2020, will open in the socially distanced Olivier theatre on 11th December.
Directed by Ned Bennett, this wild and inventive production explores what it is like to come from a small town and arrive in a big city today, exploring the ideas of community and togetherness. Initial casting includes Dickie Beau,Amy Booth-Steel,Lawrence Hodgson-Mullings,Georgina Onuorah,and Cleve September.
They have also announced the next show to open as part of the Olivier in-the-round season in February 2021 is Larry Kramer’sThe Normal Heart,ina co-production with Fictionhouse. Directed by Dominic Cooke, Kramer’s largely autobiographical play about the AIDS crisis in 1980 New York has not been performed professionally in London since its European premiere in 1986. Ben Daniels will perform the role of Ned Weeks, the co-founder of an AIDS advocacy group fighting to change the world around him, with Danny Lee Wynter as Tommy Boatwright, Daniel Monks as Mickey Marcus and Stanley Townsend as Ben Weeks. Vicki Mortimeris Set Designer and Paule Constable is Lighting Designer.
Michelle Visage joins Everybody’s Talking About Jamie and it is just as much fun as you’d imagine
“Tell it like it is but they don’t wanna know it. Life don’t owe you no you owe it”
Having just celebrated its first birthday in the West End (a pleasant surprise to see such a musical thriving there), Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is starting to make the kind of moves that will hopefully see that success continue. Layton Williams will be stepping into Jamie’s killer heels when John McCrea finishes his award-winning turn at the front, and some borderline-stunt casting got me back to the Apollo no worries.
Chucking Michelle Visage into the cast is actually a rather inspired move. Regardless of what you think of her, her friend-to-the-gays credentials are beyond reproach, particularly where drag is concerned. and Miss Hedge is the kind of supporting role that doesn’t pull too much focus while still offering a couple of opportunities to shine. And Visage does seem to have settled right into the company.
This mahoosive new tour of Hairspraystarted in the middle of last month and stretches right through to June 2018 and it certainly feels like it has the potential to be a great success. There are some cracking performances which really elevate Paul Kerryson’s production of this most effective of shows (music by Marc Shaiman, lyrics by Scott Wittman and Shaiman, book by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan) and choreography from hot-shot of the moment Drew McOnie.
And given how dance heavy Hairspray is, it is an astute move from Kerryson as McOnie’s inventive use of movement establishes and reinforces so much of the febrile mood of simmering racial tension and potential societal change. In the hands of the likes of Layton Williams’ Seaweed and an effervescent ensemble, it’s hard to keep a smile from your face as the sheer toe-tapping enthusiasm of it all as fabulous group numbers shake and shimmy their way across the stage. Continue reading “Review: Hairspray, Orchard Dartford”
I’m not one to deny anyone their fandom and Lord know Renthas some of the most devoted of the lot. But for whatever reason, the show has left me cold every time I’ve seen it, increasingly so in its determination to defend artistic excess.
I was bought a ticket as a Christmas present so I was able to go and test my feelings once again but no change, no matter how good Layton Williams’ performance was. So for once, I’m just going to leave it here.
Running time: 2 hours 40 minutes (with interval) Booking until 28th January, then touring as below