Christmas is approaching, but not before a dizzying spate of openings, including two eagerly awaited musical premieres, a double dose of Shakespeare and a two-time Olivier Award winner revisiting Eugene O’Neill. All that and panto season, as well? London truly does offer something for everyone, during the holidays and throughout the year.
Musical Murders: American Psycho might not seem like musical material, but the same was once said about Sweeney Todd, and look what happened there. The stage adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’ novel opens on December 12 at the Almeida Theatre, with former Doctor Who Matt Smith stepping into the chic and scary shoes of Patrick Bateman, played on screen in 2000 by Christian Bale. As directed by Rupert Goold, with a score by Duncan Sheik (Spring Awakening) and book by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (Spider-Man), this show could give new meaning to the notion of slaying them in the aisles.
ALSO: Ruth Wilson, whose last foray into Eugene O’Neill (Anna Christie, opposite Jude Law) won her a second Olivier Award, acts in and directs The El. Train, a trio of O’Neill one-acts opening December 13 at East London’s Hoxton Hall; David Tennant transfers his warmly received Richard II for the RSC from Stratford-upon-Avon to London for a limited engagement, opening December 12 at the Barbican.
It’s a Scandal! Half a century ago, the so-called “Profumo affair” brought together sex, politics and sleaze to topple a government, and Britain has been riveted to that moment in history ever since. Now, Andrew Lloyd Webber reteams with Sunset Boulevard collaborators Don Black and Christopher Hampton to mine the material for the new musical Stephen Ward. Starring Alexander Hanson as the doomed osteopath of the title, the show opens on December 19 at the Aldwych; Richard Eyre (Mary Poppins) directs.
ALSO: The ever-busy Eyre transfers his sellout—and stunning—revival of Ibsen’s tragedy Ghosts to the West End, starting December 17 at the Trafalgar Studios; Thor star Tom Hiddleston returns to his stage roots the same night in the title role in Coriolanus at the Donmar.
Deck the Halls: Fancy a quintessential English theatrical experience? Get thee to a Christmas pantomime, that hallowed slice of British stage life that in recent years has lured increasing numbers of Americans (Pamela Anderson, Mickey Rooney, and Patrick Duffy, to name three). Henry Winkler, a.k.a. The Fonz, returns to pantoland to play Captain Hook in Peter Pan at west London’s Richmond Theatre throughout the holiday season and into January. Get ready for crude jokes, high spirits and banter flying to and from the stage.
DECEMBER 30-JANUARY 5
Pan-theon: The first London theater opening of 2014 finds a familiar title, Peter Pan, lending itself to a musical premiere, Lost Boy, on January 2 at the tiny Finborough Theatre in west London before moving to the larger Charing Cross Theatre on January 14. Billed as a “dark sequel” to J.M. Barrie’s beloved story, composer-lyricist Phil Willmott’s show casts Olivier nominee Andrew C. Wadsworth as Captain Hook. Perhaps he and Henry Winkler can trade notes?
ALSO: Last performances for Dame Edna’s glorious farewell, as Barry Humphries, creator of the bespectacled Australian megastar, bids adieu to London on January 5 at the Palladium, prior to a UK tour. The previous day sees the final performance at the St. James Theatre of the West End premiere of Sarah Ruhl’s In the Next Room (or the vibrator play), with Natalie Casey and Jason Hughes heading the cast.