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London Datebook: Shakespeare in Love Swoons, Earnest Gets Older & Ben Foster Screams 'Stella!'

London Datebook: Shakespeare in Love Swoons, Earnest Gets Older & Ben Foster Screams 'Stella!'
'The Importance of Being Earnest', 'A Streetcar Named Desire', 'Richard III' & 'Shakespeare in Love'
Fall for Shakespeare in Love, scream for Streetcar and more in this month's London Datebook.

Is there no end to the London stage’s infatuation with all things American? You might think not in a month that promises major works by Tennessee Williams and the Gershwins, and with notable American actors in both cases attached. Alongside those comes a flurry of quintessentially British fare, ranging from Shakespeare in Love, this time as a play, and that most-beloved of all comedies, The Importance of Being Earnest, promising cucumber sandwiches along with laughs. For more information, read on.

JULY 7-13
Hunchback: The ruler we love to loathe chills us anew when Martin Freeman—yes, of The Hobbit, Sherlock, and Fargo fame—opens July 8 at the Trafalgar Studios in Richard III, with Jamie Lloyd (Passion, The Pride) directing Shakespeare’s devilishly funny and frightening portrait of the hunchbacked monarch.

ALSO: First full week of post-opening performances for the latest U.K. edition at the Menier Chocolate Factory of Forbidden Broadway, with Ben Lewis (Love Never Dies) and Damian Humbley (Merrily We Roll Along) among those doing the show-biz skewering. Tanya Moodie, seen last summer inheriting Viola Davis’s New York stage role in London in Fences, does the same again, this time in the Lynn Nottage play, Intimate Apparel, opening July 9 at the Park Theatre in north London and set in 1905 New York.

JULY 14-20
A Handbag?: Arguably the most immortal question ever asked on stage will be posed yet again by Lady Bracknell when Oscar Wilde’s perennial favorite, The Importance of Being Earnest, gets a fresh airing, this time at the Harold Pinter Theatre. Lucy Bailey directs a cast who are (deliberately) older than usual in this play—Nigel Havers (of Chariots of Fire fame) and Cherie Lunghi among them.

ALSO: Torben Betts’s acclaimed Off West End play Invincible hits the big-time with a West End transfer opening July 15 at the St. James Theatre. South of London, the ever-busy Chichester Festival Theatre—soon to play host to Imelda Staunton in Gypsy—gears up with a starry revival of Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus, pairing Rupert Everett as Salieri and the fast-rising young actor Joshua McGuire (Privacy) as Mozart.

JULY 21-27
Stage to Screen: Stage musicals of films are a dime a dozen, but there have been comparatively few successful plays adapted from well-known movies. That may change with the opening July 23 at the Noel Coward Theatre of Lee Hall’s stage version of Shakespeare in Love, with Lucy Briggs-Owen and Tom Bateman in the Gwyneth Paltrow/Joseph Fiennes parts and Tony nominee Paul Chahidi (Twelfth Night) inheriting Geoffrey Rush’s Oscar-nominated screen role.

ALSO: July 26 sees a flurry of closings, starting with American writer Anne Washburn’s provocative Mr. Burns at the Almeida Theatre, with a local cast headed by Jenna Russell, and American actor Seth Numrich alongside Joshua James in Brian Friel’s version of the Russian classic Fathers and Sons at the Donmar; Olivier winner Lyndsey Turner (Chimerica) directs the latter.

Stellaaaaaaaaaa!: Ben Foster becomes the latest actor to let rip with that famous howl when the Young Vic on July 28 opens director Benedict Andrews’s staging of A Streetcar Named Desire with recent Orphans actor Foster making his U.K. stage debut as Stanley Kowalski alongside London stage semi-regular Gillian Anderson as Blanche DuBois.

ALSO: An additional July 28 opening is The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess here performed alfresco at the Open Air Theatre in Regent’s Park, with Tony nominee Phillip Boykin reprising his Broadway role as Crown. Previews begin July 31 for the Donmar revival of the celebrated gay-themed British play My Night With Reg, this time starring musical leading man Julian Ovenden (Grand Hotel, Finding Neverland) in a non-singing role. The play’s author, Kevin Elyot, died on June 7, making this production very much a memorial.

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