It’s four days into 2013 and the new year blues may have kicked in for some. Diets have fallen by the wayside for slices of cake from the new Nigel Slater book and Hogmanay hangovers have overstayed their welcome like the kids’ new Furbys that seemed like such a good idea at the time. That’s why we’re here, oh lovely readers, to brighten your day and bring you the good news that 2013 is going to be an incredible year for theatre.
There are already hundreds of listings for shows in the coming months on Official London Theatre, but we’ve compiled a list of our highlights of the things to come for you to peruse whilst finishing off the last chocolate coin or chocolate orange slice.
2013 will be the year that…
…film director Joe Wright makes his theatrical debut
Given that his parents founded the Little Angel theatre, it seems fitting that the director of hit films including Atonement, Pride And Prejudice and Anna Karenina turns his award-winning hand to the stage to direct a romantic tale of growing up in the theatre. Trelawny Of The Wells plays at the Donmar Warehouse from 15 February and he’s gathered an all-star cast including Daniel Mays and Daniel Kaluuya.
…while his Atonement star James McAvoy takes on Macbeth
BAFTA-award winning actor and X-Men star James McAvoy returns to the London stage from 9 February to appear in the first production in a season of work at the Trafalgar Studios entitled Trafalgar Transformed. Jamie Lloyd directs, while White Heat star Claire Foy takes on the role of his ruthless wife. As well as watching the show, you can enjoy an added programme of talks and readings to accompany the season.
….Helen Mirren transforms into Elizabeth II for the, well, II time
From 15 February, one of the country’s most popular actresses will once again don a crown to play Elizabeth II in The Audience, a new play by Peter Morgan which tells of the most secret meetings in British public life, those between the Queen and the Prime Minister. The last time Helen Mirren played Elizabeth II with a script by Morgan, she received an Oscar, Golden Globe and BAFTA for her troubles, so one expects great things from this production.
…legwarmers make a comeback
…but don’t panic, you won’t need to wear them. Two survivor of the show’s open auditions will, though, when they appear alongside John Partridge, Scarlett Strallen, Victoria Hamilton-Barritt, Leigh Zimmerman in Marvin Hamlisch’s Broadway hit A Chorus Line from 5 February. The first London revival since 1976 will be directed by Bob Avian, who worked as co-choreographer on the show’s original production. All together now… One singular sensation, every little step he takes…
…Tony Award winners come to the West End
This year will see not one but two Tony Award-winning musicals arrive in the West End and they couldn’t be more different. The Book Of Mormon (from 25 February) has everyone talking in New York with its obscene lyrics and hilariously outrageous script, while people have fallen in love with Once (from 16 March) for its romantic celebration of life, friendship and music. Did I mention they boast a massive 17 Tony Award wins between them?
…actors take to swapping roles
Jonny Lee Miller and Benedict Cumberbatch famously did it and now Kristin Scott Thomas and Lia Wiliams will take their turn, quite literally, in Harold Pinter’s Old Times from 12 January. A dark tale of conflicting memory and sexual tension, Scott Thomas and Williams will alternate the roles of Kate and Anna who meet with Deeley (Rufus Sewell) in a secluded farmhouse in this explosive drama.
…Shaftesbury theatre burns its floor
Well not quite. But ballroom extravaganza Burn The Floor will return to London after touring to more than 300 cities worldwide. With Strictly fever still going strong in the UK, don’t miss your chance to see stars from the show Robin Windsor and Kristina Rihanoff in this hit production, which plays from 6 March.
…Michael Grandage brings stars to the stage
Continuing his first season of plays at the Noël Coward theatre after his tenure as Artistic Director of the Donmar Warehouse, Michael Grandage offers 2013 audiences the chance to see a stellar line-up on stage. There’s Bond double act Judi Dench and Ben Whishaw in Peter And Alice, Jude Law as Henry V, Daniel Radcliffe in The Cripple Of Inishmaan or David Walliams and Sheridan Smith in A Midsummer Night’s Dream to choose from. Plus, Grandage has committed to making great theatre more affordable, offering tickets from just £10.
… Zoë Wanamaker gets passionate
From 5 May, Olivier Award-winner Zoë Wanamaker returns to the West End to star in Peter Nichols’ black comedy Passion Play. David Leveaux directs the tale about married couple James and Eleanor, whose world is turned upside by infidelity. Expect intrigue, heartbreak and humour.
…while we get passionate about chocolate (again)
By May we reckon you’ll be able to look at chocolate again without the memories of the boxing day binge, just in time for Sam Mendes’ spectacular musical Charlie And The Chocolate Factory. Telling one of Roald Dahl’s most-loved stories, this production promises ingenious stagecraft, dazzling choreography from Matilda The Musical’s Peter Darling and a Wonka to rival Gene Wilder and Jonny Depp in the form of Olivier Award winner Douglas Hodge.
…West Side Story returns
August will see the return of the hugely popular West Side Story to Sadler’s Wells. Last seen at the venue in a sell-out season in 2008, this iconic production features ground-breaking choreography and famous lyrics by musical great Stephen Sondheim with sing-along songs (although that’s not strictly recommended during the performance…) Maria, Tonight, Somewhere and America.
…Mark Rylance returns to directing
Mark Rylance is currently wowing audiences at the Apollo theatre in Richard III and Twelfth Night, but the multi-talented, Shakespearean expert – he was the first Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s Globe, running it for an impressive 10 years – will return to directing for the Old Vic theatre’s production of Much Ado About Nothing in September. As an added bonus, the bickering leads will be played by acting veterans James Earl Jones and Vanessa Redgrave.
…Sheila Hancock decides the only way is Essex
Last but not least is Barking In Essex, Clive Exton’s comedy starring comedian Lee Evans and Olivier Award-winning actress Sheila Hancock. While the story tells of a dysfunction family, we’re hoping the pair work rather more well on stage as they get set to have the West End in stitches from 6 September.