A new year in the London theater can mean only one thing: a dizzying array of enticing revivals and new works, plays and musicals. This month alone offers up a potentially career-defining Lear, a Pulitzer finalist in its London premiere, and even the birth of a brand new theater. Read on, and have a happy and play-filled 2014!
Born Again: There’s hardly a better way to launch a new theater year than welcoming a new theater. On January 9, Shakespeare’s Globe christens the indoor Sam Wanamaker Playhouse with a revival of The Duchess of Malfi. Returning to the theater where she made her professional debut in 2007, fast-rising film actress Gemma Arterton plays the doomed Duchess, with James Garnon, Sean Gilder and David Dawson lending support.
ALSO: Final performances at the National Theatre’s purpose-built Shed of two contrasting productions: The Elephantom, a family-friendly show about a little girl and her larger-than-life friend, and Protest Song, Tim Price’s solo play starring Rhys Ifans of Notting Hill fame.
Inch By Inch: The long-overdue London premiere of Putting It Together begins performances on January 14 at the St. James Theatre. Leading the cast of the Sondheim-themed musical revue are Olivier Award winners Janie Dee (Carousel, Comic Potential) and David Bedella (Jerry Springer the Opera)
ALSO: American writer Gina Gionfriddo’s feminist comedy Rapture, Blister, Burn begins at the Hampstead Theatre on January 16, with an ace cast headed by Emilia Fox, Adam James and Emma Fielding; last chance to see Kate Fahy marking a rare foray into directing with Jean-Claude Carriere’s Little Black Book, at north London’s Park Theatre, through January 19.
Crack Your Cheeks: The great Simon Russell Beale steps up to the plate as a notably young King Lear in the National’s much-awaited production of Shakespeare’s mightiest tragedy, opening January 23. The director is the actor’s longtime friend and colleague Sam Mendes, and Kate Fleetwood and Adrian Scarborough head a notably lustrous supporting cast.
ALSO: Theatergoers willing to venture north have until January 25 to see 2012 Tony nominee Tom Edden (One Man, Two Guvnors) play Fagin in Oliver! at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield, helmed by Tony nominee Daniel Evans (Sunday in the Park with George), who now directs more than he acts.
JANUARY 27-FEBRUARY 2
Pub Crawl: Head to Wyndham’s Theatre to savor the West End transfer of Josie Rourke’s transfixing Donmar revival of Conor McPherson’s The Weir, with Brian Cox, Peter Macdonald, and Dervla Kirwan heading an ensemble to treasure.
ALSO: Final performances of the new Duncan Sheik musical American Psycho in Rupert Goold’s slick and stirring Almeida staging and with a scarifying star turn from Matt Smith (Doctor Who); Broadway’s Liz Callaway (Miss Saigon, Cats) comes to the Crazy Coqs cabaret by Piccadilly Circus for a limited run January 28–February 1.