London’s equivalent of Broadway, the West End, remains home to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical extravaganzas, sometimes derided by local critics as tonsils-and-tinsel shows. The most recent revival in this genre is one of Webber’s earliest successes, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, at the Adelphi Theatre, starring Lee Mead. It is this year’s “in” family show.
Lee Mead got the part through a televised audition, the same way Connie Fisher, won the starring role of Maria in Webber’s The Sound of Music, still running at London’s Palladium. Producer/composer Andrew Lloyd Webber’s reality shows broke viewing records and made stars of its winners.
At the Comedy Theatre, there’s Boeing Boeing, a French farce about an aging Parisian roué who must work hard to keep his mistresses from running into one another. By all accounts, it is a really good romp.
Those who prefer drama should check out the National Theatre (www.nationaltheatre.org.uk) first. There’s a highly praised production of Saint Joan, starring Anne-Marie Duff, through September 25.
If you are a fan of World War II-era comedies of manners and/or of Noel Coward, then Present Laughter, beginning September 25 and closing November 3, is for you. Alex Jennings stars in the comic chestnut about an aging, vain matinee idol.
Two of London’s biggest stars, Simon Russell Beale and Zoë Wanamaker, have been cast as Benedick and Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing December 10 to January 10.
After the National, my favorite theater in London is the Donmar Warehouse (www.donmarwarehouse.com), the model for Signature’s new theater in Shirlington. At the Donmar September 14 to November 24 is Parade, a new version, co-conceived by Harold Prince, of Alfred Uhry’s play about Leo Frank, a Jew accused of murder in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1913. Then, from November 29 to February 23, there’s Othello with Chiwetel Ejiofor (currently starring opposite Don Cheadle in the movie Talk To Me) and Ewan McGregor (the Irish heart-throb who is said to be in Woody Allen’s next, as yet untitled, movie). What a cast! And what a treat to see such fine actors in such an intimate space. But it means, of course, that there are many fans vying for very few seats. Booking ahead is advised.
Getting Tickets to London Shows
One-stop shoppers might want to use the services of Keith Prowse, the ticket agency, at 800-669-8687, or online at keithprowse.com.
Half-price tickets are available at the tickets booth in Leicester Square (Monday through Saturday from 10 to 7, Sunday noon to 3) and Canary Wharf, at the Docklands Light Railroad Station, Platforms 4 and 5 (Monday through Saturday from 10 to 3:30 only). Credit and debit cards are accepted at both locations. The Leicester Square booth also accepts cash.
For a list of what’s on at museums, galleries, nightclubs, as well as theater, nothing comes close to the all-knowing www.officiallondontheatre.co.uk.
For general information about London, including weather, hotels, deals, and more, there’s www.visitbritain.com.