London 2014: Mainstream Theatre

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Harry Shearer in Daytona

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Harry Shearer in Daytona
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels the Musical
Great Britain
New Musicals


As well as the usual supply of West End musicals, London sees a raft of exciting new theatre openings in 2014, welcoming the likes of Gillian Anderson, Martin Freeman and Kristin Scott Thomas to its stages. Here Francesca Young looks at the best of what the capital has to offer from July to December.


A-list Stars


If you're looking for an A-list name, look no further than the Young Vic's staging of Tennessee Williams' classic 1947 play A Streetcar Named Desire (23 July - 6th September 2014) in which Gillian Anderson plays Blanche DuBois.

Sure to get plenty of column inches, Mean Girls actress Lindsay Lohan makes her West End stage debut David Mamet's biting satire Speed-the-Plow, directed by Lindsay Posner, taking on the role of sassy secretary Karen, a role played by Madonna when the play was first seen on Broadway in 1988.

Oscar-nominated actress Kathleen Turner returns to the London stage as a hard-drinking, hard up woman in Bakersfield Mist. Bill Nighy and Carey Mulligan star in Skylight, Stephen Daldry's revival of Sir David Hare's play. And Robert Lindsay "gives a masterclass in theatrical style" (The Telegraph) in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, a comedy caper about two fraudsters.

Theatre legend Maureen Lipman stars in Daytona, staged at the Theatre Royal Haymarket for an 8-week summer run following its world premiere at the Park Theatre on London's fringe last year.

There might be a new cast at Jeeves and Wooster, including John Gordon Sinclair as Jeeves, but this production - winner of the Best Comedy at the 2014 Olivier Awards - continues to impress audiences and critics alike, and it looks set to run and run; booking is available until January 2015.


Greek Tragedies


Two Greek tragedies play out on the London stage in 2014. Helen McCrory stars in the title role in Carrie Cracknell's production of Medea for the National Theatre in a new version by Ben Power with music written by Will Gregory and Alison Goldfrapp.

Meanwhile, over at the Old Vic, Kristin Scott Thomas stars in Ian Rickson's production of Sophocles' Electra, telling of Electra and her brother Orestes's revenge on their father's killers. The actress who has made a name for herself in films like 'The English Patient' stars opposite Jack Lowden, the Olivier award winning actor who not only won best supporting actor but also earned the 2013 Ian Charleson Award for his performance in Richard Eyre's spell-binding adaptation of Ghosts.

These two new Athenian tragedies give Helen McCrory and Kristin Scott Thomas - both actresses at the top of their game - strong central roles to get their teeth into. And the powerful themes of murder and ultimate betrayal should make for high quality drama.


Corruption & Politics


Phone hacking and recent revelations about Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson have inspired Richard Bean's topical drama, Great Britain, a play about the goings on within the media starring Billie Piper and directed by the National Theatre's Nicholas Hytner. Almost immediately after it began a West End transfer was announced: following its run at the National Theatre's Lyttelton Theatre Great Britain will be staged at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, from 10th September 2014.

Politics spills over into drama with the Tricycle Theatre's Olivier award winning production, Handbagged, which examines the relationship between former prime minister Margaret Thatcher and The Queen, at the Vaudeville Theatre for a limited run (until 2nd August 2014). There's more political drama with The Confessions of Gordon Brown, a one-man play exposing the darkest secrets of being Prime Minister.


Musical Revivals


There's a return to the eighties as Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals Cats and Evita return to the West End stage, joining the already revived Miss Saigon - the show has already set a new box office record, with takings of 4.4 million the day booking opened.

Cats, which played for 21 record-breaking years, gives London musical lovers a Christmas treat when it runs for 12 weeks at the London Palladium from early December 2014, while Evita runs for 55 shows from September at the Dominion, starring Marti Pellow and Madalena Alberto who played the role of Fantine in the acclaimed 25th anniversary production of Les Miserables to rave reviews.


New Musicals


If nostalgia is not your thing but musicals are, there's a string of West End shows to choose from . Joining long-running success stories like The Book of Mormon and Matilda the Musical are newcomers including The Pajama Game and a West End transfer for unlikely hit Urinetown.

Richard Eyre's production of The Pajama Game (until 13th September  2014) is a hit musical in which an inconvenient romance blossoms amid industrial unrest at a pyjama factory in the American Midwest which "comes thrillingly close to his famous Guys and Dolls" according to The Telegraph.

Urinetown, this year's most unlikely West End transfer, moves from the St James Theatre to open at the Apollo Theatre on 29th September 2014. The show's director Jamie Lloyd is on a roll with three West End productions - as well as Urinetown, Lloyd is the creative brains behind The Commitments at Palace Theatre, and his Trafalgar Transformed series which continues with a second season including Sherlock star Martin Freeman in Richard III (1st July to 27th September 2014) followed by East is East starring Jane Horrocks.

There's more in the way of musical comedy when Cy Coleman and David Zippel's City Of Angels, set in the glamorous world of the film studios of Broadway in the 1940s, is revived by the Donmar's Josie Rourke as the theatre's 2014 Christmas production, taking us right through to 2015.

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