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London Show News
  The National Theatre's critically acclaimed, sold-out production of David Eldridge's latest play Beginning, "the (anti) romance for 21st-century London life", will transfer to the West End's Ambassadors Theatre for a strictly limited ten-week run from 15 January to 24 March 2018. It's the first new production in the Ambassadors after Stomp ends its ten-year run at the theatre on 7 January.

Beginning is a tender and funny look at the first fragile moments of risking your heart and taking a chance. Reprising their highly praised roles as Laura and Danny, Justine Mitchell (Bodies, Royal Court; Mr Burns, Almeida Theatre) and Sam Troughton (King Lear, National Theatre; The Hollow Crown, BBC; and The Ritual) are directed by Polly Findlay (Limehouse, Donmar Warehouse; As You Like It, Protest Song and Antigone, National Theatre) in this season's must-see hit by David Eldridge (Festen, Market Boy, Under the Blue Sky, In Basildon).

Acclaimed by critics and audiences during its sold-out run, the play received its world premiere in October in the NT's Dorfman Theatre. The premiere production has design by Fly Davis, lighting design by Jack Knowles, sound design by Paul Arditti and movement by Naomi Said. It's produced in the West End by the National Theatre. Tickets are now on sale.
  The London Evening Standard has revealed the shortlist for the 2017 Theatre Awards, for which winners are announced in a ceremony at the West End's Theatre Royal Drury Lane on Sunday 3 December 2017.

In another spectacular year for the London stage, three theatres dominate the shortlist, the National Theatre, the Royal Court and Islington's Almeida Theatre. Each has seven chances of winning awards.

Jez Butterworth's new play, The Ferryman, a collaboration between the Royal Court, where it began its sell-out run before transferring to the West End, and Sonia Friedman productions leads with four mentions. Dominic Cooke's sumptuous revival of Stephen Sondheim's Follies and James Graham's witty play about the birth of The Sun newspaper, Ink, are close behind with three each.

This year's shortlist reflects a strong year for new writing in London, with recognition in one or more categories for plays from leading writers Jez Butterworth (whose previous play Jerusalem won the Evening Standard Best Play in 2009), James Graham (Ink), Mike Bartlett (Albion) and Lucy Kirkwood (The Children).

The thriving relationship between London's subsided and commercial theatre is also reflected by the number of nominated productions to have achieved successful West End transfers (Hamlet, Ink, The Ferryman, Oslo).

The ceremony for the annual awards, marking their 63rd year, will be co-hosted by the newspaper's owner, Evgeny Lebedev, American Vogue editor-in-chief, Dame Anna Wintour, star of stage and screen Cate Blanchett and Hamilton creator and original star Lin-Manual Miranda. The onstage host for the evening is Phoebe Waller-Bridge. The awards are sponsored by Qatar Airways, the Platinum Partner for this year's Evening Standard Theatre Awards is Michael Kors.

London Evening Standard owner Evgeny Lebedev commented: "In turbulent and uncertain times which will no doubt inspire a wave of great new plays soon enough, the global pre-eminence of the London stage is a rare and precious constant. This year, as every year, the shortlist for our awards illuminates its range, variety and sheer brilliance. It is my privilege to join Dame Anna Wintour in hosting an event that recognises the dazzling array of talent, emerging and established, that perennially confirms London's theatre as the best in the world."

All new productions and performances on the London stage that opened between 17th October 2016 and 19th October 2017 were eligible for consideration for this year's Theatre Awards.
  The cast that will join Adrienne Warren, playing the title role in the world premiere of Tina - The Tina Turner Musical has been announced, including, making his musical debut, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith as Ike Turner. The production, directed by Phyllida Lloyd, starts performances at the West End's Aldwych Theatre on 21 March 2018.

Kobna Holdbrook-Smith was last on stage playing Laertes in Hamlet at the Barbican alongside Benedict Cumberbatch. His previous theatre credits include Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Edward II, Antigone and Death and the King's Horseman for the National Theatre. His television credits include The Split, Wagstaffe, Class, Capital, Crackanory, Worricker Trilogy, The Last Panthers and Midsomer Murders. His film work includes Paddington 2, The Commuter, Justice League, Doctor Strange, The Double and Roadkill and the forthcoming Mary Poppins Returns and Ghost Stories.

The show also features Madeline Appiah as Tina's mother Zelma Bullock, Jenny Fitzpatrick as the alternate Tina, Lorna Gayle as Tina's Grandmother GG, Tom Godwin as Record Producer Phil Spector and Lyricist Terry Britten, Francesca Jackson as Ike and Tina's manager Rhonda Graam, Aisha Jawando as Tina's sister Alline Bullock, Natey Jones as Tina's father Richard Bullock and Tina's first love Raymond Hill, Gerard McCarthy as record company Marketing Manager Erwin Bach and Ryan O'Donnell as Tina's Manager Roger Davies.

They are joined by ensemble members Tsemaye Bob-Egbe, Keisher Downie, Kit Esuruoso who also plays Tina's son Craig Hill, Jammy Kasongo, Sia Kiwa, Jason Langley, Kayleigh McKnight, Baker Mukasa and Tanisha Spring and swings Derek Aidoo, Gavin Alex, Edward Bourne, Candace Furbert, Hannah Jay-Allan and Rodney Vubya.
  The multi Tony Award-winning production of Rodgers & Hammerstein's The King And I will transfer from Broadway to London next summer following a critically acclaimed 16- month run at New York's Lincoln Center Theater and an unprecedented continuing record-breaking sold-out USA tour. The production will start performances on 21 June 2018 at the West End's London Palladium, where the last West End production of the Broadway classic was staged in 2006.

The production will star the two original Lincoln Center Theater lead actors: Broadway musical royalty Kelli O'Hara, who will reprise her Tony Award-winning role of Anna Leonowens, together with film star, Oscar and Tony nominee (for his role on The King and I) Ken Watanabe, who will star in the title role of The King of Siam. Both will be making their West End debuts, following their acclaimed performances on Broadway.

Acclaimed Tony Award-winning Bartlett Sher will once again direct the production, hot on the heels of his work on The Lincoln Center Theater's world Premiere of JT Rogers' smash hit play Oslo, which opened on Broadway and then transferred via the National Theatre to the West End's Harold Pinter Theatre in October this year to rave reviews. He, along with the creative team behind the award-winning production of South Pacific, will reunite to bring this production to life at the Palladium.

With music by Richard Rodgers, book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, this production, which won four Tony Awards including Best Revival of a Musical, will have its European premiere at the Palladium. One of Rodgers & Hammerstein's finest works, this masterpiece boasts a score featuring such beloved classics as Getting To Know You, Hello Young Lovers, Shall We Dance, I Have Dreamed, and Something Wonderful. Set in 1860s Bangkok, the musical tells the story of the unconventional and tempestuous relationship that develops between the King of Siam and Anna Leonowens, a British schoolteacher, whom the imperious King brings to Siam to tutor his many wives and children.
  Final casting has been announced for the West End production of the Olivier Award-nominated The Rat Pack - Live from Las Vegas, which returns to the Theatre Royal Haymarket - home to its first West End run in 2003 - for a strictly limited season from Wednesday 13 December 2017 to Saturday 3 February 2018.

The cast features Garrett Phillips as Frank Sinatra, Nigel Casey as Dean Martin, David Hayes as Sammy Davis Jr, with Joanna Walters, Amelia Adams, Rebecca Parker and Laura Darton as The Burrelli Sisters. Musical Director of the 12-piece Rat Pack Big Band is Matthew Freeman. In addition, Nicola Emmanuelle will join the show from 9 January 2018 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of the First Lady of Song and Queen of Jazz, Ella Fitzgerald. Songs featured in this special edition of the production will include Night and Day, The Lady is a Tramp, Mack the Knife and S'Wonderful.

From 13 December to 6 January, The Rat Pack - Live from Las Vegas - devised, directed and choreographed by Mitch Sebastian - will have a Christmas theme. Christmas with the Rat Pack showcases the trio's unique take on such festive classics as Baby It's Cold Outside, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, White Christmas, Winter Wonderland, Jingle Bells and Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow.

Commenting on the introduction of the new member to the company, The Rat Pack's director and choreographer Mitch Sebastian said:
"We are thrilled to introduce Ella Fitzgerald to the show for 2018 in both the West End and later UK tour dates, to celebrate the centenary of this great singers birth. The recipient of 13 Grammy Awards and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, Ella was an artist Frank respected - 'the best way to start any musical evening is with this girl. It don't get better than this', he says on one recording."
"The warmth of their friendship really shines through on the many YouTube videos of their amazing performances together. They duetted live and in several TV specials including The Frank Sinatra Show to a global audience of millions. It was the series of highly successful - and lucrative - concerts in 1974 at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, and later for two weeks on Broadway headlining Ella, Frank and Count Basie, that are cited as an important incentive to bring Frank out of self-imposed retirement."
  The producers of La Soiree have announced an astonishing line-up of jaw dropping new acts for its winter residency in London's West End.

La Soiree's heady cocktail of intimate cabaret, comedy, circus sideshow and contemporary variety is more potent than ever and this is their most daring line up to date. Putting the Aldwych Theatre in a spin, La Soiree will transform this traditional theatre into an intimate cabaret club with La Soiree's much-loved, in-the-round seating still in place. So step in from the cold, leave your troubles at the door and prepare to be charmed, astonished and electrified by the very loveable creme de la creme of the cabaret world.

This year's heady cocktail of ridiculously talented cabaret performers include London debuts from The Chilly Brothers and their awesome, gravity defying Russian cradle; Mallakhamb India! performing the amazing and ancient Indian artform; German champion aerial artist Lea Hinz; daringly dexterous Michele Clark; Fancy Chance and her mischievous hair hanging; Leon Fagbemi and Klodi Dabkiewicz's sensuous Hand to Hand; electrifying Symone on hula hoops and home-grown hackney talent, LJ Marles.

Returning La Soiree favourites include, the side-splitting Amy G, Montreal puppeteers Cabaret Decadense who will be getting the party started; and The Daredevil Chicken Club - you'll never look at a banana the same way again!

This Christmas will also be the first time that La Soiree is offering La Petite Soiree, a family-friendly, fun and daring hour-long show for cabaret fans of all ages that promises all the spirit of the Olivier Award'winning entertainment but less of the sauce. La Petite Soiree will play at 3pm on Saturdays and throughout the Christmas holidays.

Brett Haylock, Creative Producer of La Soiree said:
"We are beyond excited to be coming to London's West End this Christmas to create havoc in the grand Aldwych Theatre with La Soiree and our brand new afternoon offspring La Petite Soiree. This glamorous old dame of a theatre has allowed us to present work above and beyond our beloved spiegeltent, so prepare to meet a whole host of new gravity defying artists that will make your head spin and as your sides split with laughter! And whilst the opportunities to dazzle have expanded we will still be performing on our little round, red stage and the much-loved intimacy of La Soiree shall remain. So we dare you... come on up to the Aldwych stage and get up close and personal with these astounding performers."

La Soiree and its brand new family-friendly show, La Petite Soiree, will reside at the recently refurbished, sparkling Aldwych Theatre from 24 November to 3 February.
  Underbelly Productions has confirmed the new production of Clarke Peters' Olivier Award-winning and Tony-Award nominated musical, Five Guys Named Moe, will extend its run at The Marble Arch Theatre until Saturday 24 March 2018.

The show is playing at the brand new Marble Arch Theatre which has been custom built for the production. The venue is designed to take audiences to an 1940s all-swinging New Orleans club, complete with festooned courtyard, bespoke cocktail bar, smoky corners and band-stand as a centrepiece. Performed in the round for the first time, theatregoers will be able to take their seats at the cabaret tables in the Funky Butt Club and have drinks served directly to their tables for an up-close and personal musical experience all around them.

Cameron Mackintosh, Associate Producer said:
"I couldn't be happier that everyone wants more Moe and that the joint will continue to jump for several more months."

Charlie Wood and Ed Bartlam, Directors, Underbelly said:
"There really ain't no party like a Five Guys party and that's exactly what audiences have been finding out; they've been on their feet every night of Five Guys Named Moe. Everyone loves the party atmosphere in the brand new Marble Arch Theatre - our incredible purpose-built New Orleans style venue. Clarke Peters has brought his own show thrillingly to life in this brand new production and we couldn't be more delighted to announce that we're extending the run to 24th March 2018."

Cllr Robert Davis MBE, DL, Deputy Leader of Westminster City Council and Cabinet Member for Business, Culture and Heritage said:
"Westminster City Council is delighted that the public have responded so positively to this brand new production of Five Guys Named Moe at the stunning Marble Arch theatre. Extending the run of this internationally acclaimed musical will allow more residents, businesses and visitors to enjoy a fantastic evening of top class entertainment in a world-class, iconic location and we look forward to welcoming them to the venue over the coming months."
  Witness for the Prosecution will extend its run on London's South Bank until 16 September 2018. It had previously been booking until March. Tickets for the new booking period are now on sale.

This new production of Agatha Christie's classic courtroom play has captured the imagination of audiences who have experienced the drama inside the unique setting of County Hall's ornate Chamber. Director Lucy Bailey places the audience in the thick of the action, with some even watching from the jury box, as this gripping tale of justice, passion and betrayal unfolds around them.
Leonard Vole is accused of murdering a widow to inherit her wealth. The stakes are high. Will Leonard survive the shocking witness testimony? Will he be able to convince the jury of his innocence and escape the hangman's noose?

The current cast is led by Catherine Steadman as Romaine, Jack McMullen as Leonard Vole and David Yelland as Sir Wilfrid Robarts, with Philip Franks, Patrick Godfrey, Roger Ringrose, Richard Attlee, Elliot Balchin, Alexandra Guelff, Miranda Horn, Jon House, Jules Melvin, Hywel Simons and Alex Stedman.

Casting for the new booking period is to be announced.
  Mischief Theatre - the award-winning company behind The Play That Goes Wrong, The Comedy About A Bank Robbery (both still running in the West End) and seasonal hit Peter Pan Goes Wrong - will premiere their latest offering Mischief Movie Night, the improvised movie live on stage, at the West End's Arts Theatre for a limited season from 13 December 2017 to 27 January 2018, with several founding members in the company.

Returning to their comedy roots, Mischief Theatre will bring the audiences' genre, location and title suggestions to life complete with rewinds, fast forwards, directors' cuts and a live score. The cast includes Josh Elliot as Not Sure, Dave Hearn as Uncertain, Harry Kershaw as No Idea, Henry Lewis as Don't Know Yet, Ellie Morris as Couldn't Tell You, Charlie Russell as TBC, Jonathan Sayer as Who Knows and Henry Shields as Guess Who. They will be joined onstage by musicians Chris Ash and Richard Baker.

Meanwhile, at the West End's Criterion Theatre, The Comedy About A Bank Robbery has announced a further extension until November 2018 as new faces - some fresh, some familiar - join the company.

From November 29, stealing their role full time will be Samuel Fogell and Holly Sumpton who previously understudied for lovebirds (or is it jailbirds?) Sam Monaghan and Caprice Freeboys. Stepping into the standard issue shoes of Officers Cooper and Shuck will be fresh face Laurence Pears and familiar face Jeremy Lloyd, reprising his role from the original cast and having previously played Everyone Else, now to be played by original cast member Chris Leask, also reprising his role. Completing the cast will be understudies Jack Whittle and Lydia Fraser.
  From Monday 22 January 2018, David Thaxton will return to the West End cast of Les Miserables at the Queen's Theatre in the role of 'Javert'. Thaxton previously played 'Javert' in 2014, and has also played the role of 'Enjolras' in the West End production of the long-running Boublil and Schonberg classic.

Thaxton's many other theatre credits include 'Giorgio' in Passion at the Donmar Warehouse, for which he won an Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical, 'Pilate' in Jesus Christ Superstar at the Regent's Park Theatre, 'Raoul' in Love Never Dies at the Adelphi and 'Major John Howard' in Only The Brave at Wales Millennium Centre.

David will join Olivier Award nominee Killian Donnelly as 'Jean Valjean', Carley Stenson as 'Fantine', Steven Meo as 'Thenardier', Karis Jack as 'Eponine', Jacqueline Tate as 'Madame Thenardier', Hyoie O'Grady as 'Enjolras', Paul Wilkins as 'Marius' and Charlotte Kennedy as 'Cosette'.

From 22 January 2018 the full company will be: Emma Barr; Adam Bayjou; Oliver Brenin; Ciaran Bowling; Hugo Chiarella; Andy Conaghan; Killian Donnelly; Alice Ellen Wright; Sophie-May Feek; Hyoie O'Grady; Catherine Hannay; Antony Hansen; Holly-Anne Hull; James Hume; Karis Jack; Ciaran Joyce; Charlotte Kennedy; Katie Kerr; Rebecca Lafferty; Jo Loxton; John Lumsden; Anna McGarahan; Steven Meo; Jonny Purchase; Lauren Soley; Carley Stenson; Jacqueline Tate; Shaq Taylor; George Tebbutt; David Thaxton; Lee Van Geleen; Danny Whitehead and Paul Wilkins.