WHAT’S ON IN THE WEST END

17 12 2015

I spent last week in London, looking for new shows that we might bring to Utah. While I probably came up empty-handed, I did have many fun evenings (and one afternoon) in the theater.

1208152047-2kThe National Theatre was my first stop. The hottest ticket in their four venues was Jane Eyre, from Bronte’s famous novel. Its good reviews and a filming for broadcast that night meant that not even one ticket was available.

So I went to see wonder.land with music by Damon Albarn of the band Blur, a rather predictable re-telling of Alice’s story, where she gets lost in a video game on the internet. It is colorful, zany and has the usual high production values of the NT.151209Lon014-HDR-2k

I had to see the show MagicSpace Entertainment is co-producing, The Illusionists. This is the first extended West End run by the group that has played Broadway and toured the world successfully. It featured UK TV star Jamie Raven.

The most visible new musical is Sunny Afternoon, which has been running since May. Based on the Kinks music and loosely on the life of leader Ray Davies. A fun, funny and often painful ride thru the 60’s and 70’s with the many hits that the rock genius Davies churned out.151210Lon070-2k

Hangmen – another dark, Irish, alcohol-fueled drama by prolific playwright Martin McDonagh. (Cripple of Inishmaan, Pillowman.) Not surprisingly, most of the action occurs in a pub owned by a former hangman and, when the play isn’t making you uncomfortable and anxious, it is full of dark humor belly-laughs.

151212Lon039-2kBend It Like Beckham – based on the successful movie and running since May, the story of a young Sikh girl who joins the local soccer team without telling her traditional Indian family. Filled with colorful, gaudy Bollywood costumes and choreography, it is a feelgood celebration of British multiculturalism, with a happy ending, of course.

151210Lon079-2kDerren Brown – Miracle – the popular British illusionist/mind reader keeps the audience spellbound with stunts that include teaching an audience member to eat a light bulb and using faith-healing to cure audience ills from back pain to sports injuries to tinnitus. I’m still trying to figure out how he does the faith-healing.

I didn’t get to see one hit musical, because its run was totally sold out. At the tiny Menier Chocolate Factory Theatre is a new production of Funny Girl . Reviewers are raving about the star, Sheridan Smith. The show will transfer to the West End in April, and is already rumored to be headed for Broadway.

To see more images of London, theaters, markets and shops, click on this link – Ballard Photographix.

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