Lester in 'Othello,' Faye Castelow in 'The Thrill of Love' and Declan Bennett & Zrinka Cvitesic in 'Once'
London’s spring season is in full swing, with plenty of great shows to choose from. If you can’t get a ticket to see Helen Mirren play the Queen or the hit play The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, never fear: Consult our list of the hottest shows coming and going on London stages in April.
Killing Time: The lurid tale of Ruth Ellis, the last woman in Britain to be hanged for murder (memorably portrayed on screen by Miranda Richardson in Dance With a Stranger), has made its way to the West End. Amanda Whittington’s The Thrill of Love stars Faye Castelow as the hapless Ellis, directed by James Dacre. Opening night is April 3 at the St. James Theatre.
ALSO: A veritable Easter parade of closings between April 4 and April 6: The Captain of Kopenick at the National, Iain Glen in Longing at the Hampstead, Rupert Everett in The Judas Kiss at the Duke of York’s; and Rufus Sewell, Lia Williams and Kristin Scott Thomas in Old Times at the Harold Pinter. (Rumor has it that Pinter’s ever-elusive memory play may resurface at New York City’s BAM.)
Transferring Quickly: Barely a year after its Broadway debut, the Tony-winning film-to-stage adaptation Once opens at the Phoenix Theatre on April 9 following a pre-West End run in Dublin, the city where the story is set. Declan Bennett (American Idiot, Rent) inherits Steve Kazee’s role as the musically minded Guy in this wistful musical hit opposite Croatian performer Zrinka Cvitešić as the Czech immigrant known as Girl.
ALSO: Previews for Howard Brenton’s highly pertinent #aiww: The Arrest of Ai Weiwei, chronicling the artist and activist’s struggles against the Chinese authorities, begin on April 11 at north London’s Hampstead Theatre; last chance to see comedian Rowan Atkinson cast wildly against type as the emotionally repressed St John Quartermaine in Simon Gray’s 1981 play Quartermaine’s Terms, which closes on April 13 at Wyndham’s Theatre.
Box Office Envy: Jealousy may be the abiding theme of Othello, but Shakespeare’s tragedy is likely to prompt envy in those without tickets for Nicholas Hytner’s hotly awaited new production, which begins previews on April 16 at the National Theatre. Two previously acclaimed Hamlets go head to head: The great Adrian Lester takes the title role opposite Rory Kinnear as Iago.
ALSO: Sondheimians should hop the Eurostar to Paris for the Chatelet Theater’s April 15-25 run of Sunday In the Park with George, performed in English and starring Julian Ovenden as the painter Georges Seurat. Back home, the immersive Above and Beyond show from the Look Left Look Right troupe finishes an extended run April 21 at the swanky Corinthia Hotel; last chance to see the month-long return of the Young Vic’s four-star revival of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, starring Hattie Morahan, which closes April 20.
Trophy Time: Downton Abbey star Hugh Bonneville and two-time Olivier recipient Sheridan Smith host the 2013 Olivier Awards on April 28. Frontrunners include The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time in the play category and last year’s Sweeney Todd, with Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton, in the musicals category. (The Book of Mormon and John Logan’s Peter and Alice, starring Dame Judi Dench and Ben Whishaw, opened too late to be eligible.)
ALSO: Speaking of next year’s Oliviers, expect plenty of 2014 love for the West End transfer of the Menier Chocolate Factory’s sellout revival of Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along, beginning April 23 at the Harold Pinter Theatre. Jenna Russell, Mark Umbers and Damian Humbley remain on board for the ride.