London theater is looking and sounding very American these days. But there are plenty of notable British-born ventures to lure early summer stagegoers, as well, including the long-awaited musical Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Daniel Radcliffe's return to the West End. Read on for our roundup of the hottest shows coming and going on local stages this month.
The Princess Diary: In the pantheon of Tennessee Williams’ women, spare a thought for the aging movie star Alexandra Del Lago (otherwise known as the Princess) in the author’s 1959 play Sweet Bird of Youth. Frequently rumored as a candidate for a major Broadway revival, the play is instead coming to the Old Vic on June 1 in advance of a June 12 opening. Kim Cattrall, Sex and the City’s defining siren, plays the faded grande dame with Seth Numrich (Golden Boy) as her young consort and gigolo, Chance Wayne, created on stage and screen by Paul Newman.
ALSO: The West End Men, opening June 3 at the Vaudeville, brings together musical theater regulars such as David Thaxton (Passion) and Lee Mead, one of the cuter inhabitants of Joseph’s famous loincloth; Eugene O’Neill’s epic Strange Interlude opens at the National Theatre on June 4, with Anne-Marie Duff and Charles Edwards leading what should be a dynamic, if lengthy, night.
Church Ladies: The Amen Corner, the 1965 play by legendary African-American writer James Baldwin, gets a full-throated National Theatre revival, directed by Rufus Norris (Festen) and starring Sharon D. Clarke (late of We Will Rock You) and 1996 Oscar nominee Marianne Jean-Baptiste (Secrets and Lies). Opening night is June 11.
ALSO: Doug Lucie’s seminal 1980s play Hard Feelings returns to west London’s tiny but invaluable Finborough Theatre on June 11, produced by the Defibrillator troupe; last chance to see the acclaimed UK debut of David Henry Hwang’s Yellow Face (inspired by the controversy over casting Jonathan Pryce as a Eurasian in Miss Saigon); closing night is June 16 at the Park Theatre’s 90-seat studio.
How To Succeed: Daniel Radcliffe has spent the past six years putting Harry Potter behind him on stage in Equus and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Now Radcliffe is tackling Martin McDonagh’s endearing title character “Cripple Billy” in a West End revival of the 1996 dark comedy The Cripple of Inishmaan. Opening night is June 18 at the Noel Coward Theatre, directed by Michael Grandage.
ALSO: Making it a good week for the Irish, Conor McPherson follows up the exquisite Donmar revival of The Weir with the world premiere of The Night Alive at the same theater, which he also directs. Opening night is June 19, with a cast that includes two alumni of The Seafarer, Ciaran Hinds and Tony winner Jim Norton.
Pure Imagination: Since previews began in late May, word has been building that the new adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is among the biggest and boldest West End musicals ever. Just consider the team; leading man Douglas Hodge, choreographer Peter Darling, composer/co-lyricist Marc Shaiman, co-lyricist Scott Wittman and director Sam Mendes. We’ll know the critical reaction after the show’s June 25 opening at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.
ALSO: Final performances this week for the off-West End premieres of Ayad Akhtar’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Disgraced (at the Bush) and David Mamet’s Race (at the Hampstead), as well as the English National Opera’s UK premiere of Philip Glass’ The Perfect American (at the London Coliseum) about no less a figure than Walt Disney.