Category Archives: Shows

Idina Menzel in Concert

THIS SHOW IS CLOSED. YOU CAN NOT BOOK TICKETS.

One year after her barnstorming performance at the Royal Albert Hall, Tony Award-winner Idina Menzel appeared at the Apollo Theatre as part of her solo concert tour for one week from Monday, 8 October 2012 for seven performances only. She performed a selection from the musical theatre canon and popular music. In addition to her long-standing musical theatre career, Menzel is also a songwriter, and she performed some of her own original songs for the first time in the UK.

Menzel is best known to London audiences for playing Elphaba in the West End production of Wicked, after originating the role on Broadway. For her performance, she earned Tony and Whatsonstage.com Awards for Best Actress, as well as nominations for Drama Desk and Olivier Awards. Her other theatre credits include her roles in Hair, The Wild Party, and the original casts of Rent and Aida. In 2008, she teamed up with her Elphaba standby Kerry Ellis for a one-night concert performance of Chess at the Royal Albert Hall.

She has become well-known to television audiences in recent years for her role as Shelby Corcoran on Glee, a singing teacher who turns out to be the biological mother of Rachel Berry (Lea Michele). Her film roles include Rent, Enchanted, and Kissing Jessica Stein.

This strictly limited run featured the backing of a 25-piece orchestra and follows the success of her US tour. Following her run at the Apollo Theatre, Menzel played dates at Usher Hall in Edinburgh on 16 October and the Palace Theatre in Manchester on 17 October.

Richard III

THIS SHOW IS CLOSED. YOU CAN NOT BOOK TICKETS.

 

Award-winning actor Mark Rylance took on one of the most villainous characters in history as the title role in Richard III. This production ran in repertory alongside Twelfth Night as part of Shakespeare’s Globe’s “The Play’s the Thing” season at the Apollo Theatre.

Based on the real-life monarch, Shakespeare’s Richard III is a scheming, Machiavellian hunchback who murders anyone who stands between him and the crown. Despite having killed her first husband, he successfully courts and marries Lady Anne. With calculating cunning, he manipulates his way through the court, and he betrays his brothers and loyal advisors on a bloodthirsty and ruthless quest for power.

The production featured the same creative team as Twelfth Night, including director Tim Carroll, designer Jenny Tiramani, and composer Claire van Kampen. Performed by an all-male cast, the play used designs and music inspired by the original Shakespearean productions in the 16th century.

Richard III opened on 6 November for a strictly limited season before closing on 10 February 2013.

 

Cast Information

Mark Rylance played the title role, after his Olivier and Tony Award-winning performance in Jerusalem at the Apollo Theatre. He was the founding artistic director of Shakespeare’s Globe from 1995-2005. His Jerusalem co-star Johnny Flynn plays Lady Anne, whilst The History Boys’ Samuel Barnett plays Elizabeth.

 

Reviews

Daily Telegraph Logo

“…there’s a quiet sadness about Rylance that lends melancholy even to the villain’s clowning aspect… A withered left-hand rests fixed across his chest but the deformity is felt most keenly within. This Richard doesn’t try to compensate for his weaknesses, he plays on them to manipulate others – but his self-loathing undoes him when he seizes the crown…”
Dominic Cavendish, The Daily Telegraph


The Guardian Logo

“…when Rylance does finally unleash his fury, the effect is like a cobra discharging its venom…”
Michael Billington, The Guardian

 

London Evening Standard Logo

“Mark Rylance…defines Tim Carroll’s production. From the moment he first appears, announcing that he is ‘determined to prove a villain’, he captivates us.”
Henry Hitchings, The Evening Standard

 

 

Stage Seats

This production of Richard III was first staged at Shakespeare’s Globe. To replicate the Elizabethan feel of the Globe at the Apollo, a select number of seats were  added to the stage, and from these seats one could expect a unique and up-close experience of the show.

 

Twelfth Night

THIS SHOW IS CLOSED. YOU CAN NOT BOOK TICKETS.

 

After his Tony- and Olivier-Award winning performance in Jerusalem, Mark Rylance returned to the Apollo Theatre with Shakespeare’s Globe’s “The Play’s the Thing” season, reprising his performance as Olivia in Twelfth Night and playing the title role in a new production of Richard III.

Twelfth Night is one of Shakespeare’s most beloved comedies. Following a shipwreck, twins Viola and Sebastian are separated, with each assuming the other is dead. Viola disguises herself as a man in order to serve in the court of Orsino, the Duke of Illyria, who sends her to woo the beautiful Countess Olivia on his behalf. Olivia is in mourning after the loss of her brother and has turned away all suitors, until she becomes instantly enamoured with Viola, now known as Cesario. Meanwhile, Olivia’s drunken uncle, Sir Toby, decides to play a trick on her uptight servant, Malvolio, with hilarious results, in this rollicking tale of mistaken identity and unrequited love.

For this production, Shakespeare’s Globe assembled the same creative team behind their acclaimed 2002 staging of the play, including director Tim Carroll, designer Jenny Tiramani, and composer Claire van Campen. Performed by an all-male cast in “original practice”, the set, costumes, music, and dances were inspired by the original staging of Shakespeare’s plays in the Elizabethan era.

This strictly limited season began on 2 November 2012. Twelfth Night ran in repertory with Richard III and closed on 9 February 2013.

Cast Information

After receiving an Olivier Award nomination for the role in 2002, Mark Rylance again played the Countess Olivia. Stephen Fry, whose considerable film credits include Wilde, The Life and Death of Peter Sellers, Gosford Park, and Sherlock Holmes II plays Malvolio. After appearing opposite Rylance in Jerusalem, Johnny Flynn played Viola, whilst The History Boys’ Samuel Barnett played Sebastian. Members of the original 2002 Globe cast Liam Brennan and Peter Hamilton Dyer reprise their roles as Orsino and Feste. Globe regular Colin Hurley plays Sir Toby Belch.

Reviews

The Guardian Logo “The transfer of these two productions to the West End is welcome news…the big draw is Stephen Fry’s Malvolio, and he acquits himself extremely well.” Michael Billington, The Guardian

 

Daily Telegraph Logo

“I can think of no living actor who takes to the stage with such ease and spontaneity as Mark Rylance. He makes the theatre feel like the place that he calls home…” Charles Spencer, The Daily Telegraph

 

London Evening Standard Logo

“…the play’s peculiarities come across vividly, and Rylance is once again a marvel. Henry Hitchings, The Evening Standard

Stage Seats

Twelfth Night was first staged at Shakespeare’s Globe. To replicate the Elizabethan feel of the Globe at the Apollo, a select number of seats were added to the stage, and from these seats one could expect a unique and up-close experience of the show.

Long Day’s Journey into Night

THIS SHOW IS CLOSED. YOU CAN NOT BOOK TICKETS.

Long Day’s Journey into Night is one of the seminal plays of the twentieth century. This heart-breaking drama tells the story of a troubled family as they struggle with addiction and personal demons on one fateful day at the turn of the twentieth century.

Playwright Eugene O’Neill won the Pulitzer Prize for this semi-autobiographical account of his own family life. Though he completed the play in 1942, he refused to allow it to be published or performed until after his death eleven years later.

This new production was directed by Anthony Page. His distinguished career began at the Royal Court, where he served as co-artistic director from 1969-72. His West End credits include Night of the Iguana, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, A Doll’s House, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and The Goat by Edward Albee. He also directed the films I Never Promised You a Rose Garden and The Lady Vanishes. The production toured the UK with stops at Nottingham Theatre Royal, Milton Keynes Theatre, Theatre Royal Bath, and Glasgow Theatre Royal.

Long Day’s Journey into Night began previews at the Apollo Theatre on 2 April before opening on the 10th.  This limited season ended on 18 August.

Cast Information

West End veteran David Suchet starred as James Tyrone, after winning Critics’ Circle and WhatsOnStage Awards for his performance in All My Sons by Arthur Miller. He is known to television audiences for his role as Agatha Christie’s Inspector Poirot. Acclaimed American actress Laurie Metcalf joined him as Mary Tyrone. A founding member of Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company, she went on to win three Emmy Awards for her role as Jackie on the hit sitcom Roseanne. Jamie was played by Trevor White, whose credits for the Royal Court include Aunt Dan and Lemon, as well as Enron, which subsequently transferred to the West End. After winning this year’s Evening Standard Award for Best Newcomer for his performances in The Faith Machine, The Government Inspector, and The Glass Menagerie, Kyle Soller rounded out the cast as Edmund.

The Madness of George III

THIS SHOW IS CLOSED. YOU CAN NOT BOOK TICKETS.

Opening on 18th January 2012, The Madness of George III followed Jerusalem at the Apollo Theatre for a strictly limited run until 31st March 2012. The Madness of George III tells the story of the third Hanoverian king of Great Britain, who despite his string of accomplishments is best remembered for his bouts of uncontrollable insanity. Enduring the struggle of power between politicians and his scheming son, as well as the cruel and barbaric medical treatments of the time, King George remains witty, moving, and ultimately triumphant.

Written by Alan Bennett, the award-winning playwright behind The History Boys and Enjoy, The Madness of George III was first seen at the National Theatre twenty years ago in 1991 and was adapted into an Oscar-winning film. This new production, directed by Christopher Luscombe, earned rave reviews upon its premiere at the Theatre Royal Bath and subsequently played to packed houses across the country on its national tour.

Cast Information

David Haig gave the performance of his career as George III. An Olivier Award-winning actor, his lengthly list of theatre credits includes Our Country’s Good, Loot, and West End appearances in Mary Poppins, Art, The Country Wife, The Sea, and Yes, Prime Minister. He has also appeared in the films Four Weddings and a Funeral and Two Weeks Notice, as well as on television in The Thin Blue Line and My Boy Jack. Leading an impressive supporting cast were Clive Francis, Beatie Edney, and Christopher Keegan.

 

Our Review

 

A solid production with the extraordinary David Haig in a moving performance as the ageing monarch

Known for his more recent hit, The History Boys, playwright Alan Bennett rose to international fame with this 1991 play, subsequently turned into a film starring Nigel Hawthorne. In this fine revival, David Haig gives a masterful performance as George III that will live long in the memory.

Still reeling from Britain’s loss of the American colonies, George comes down with an unexplainable bout of mental illness. He is subjected to barbaric treatments at the hands of a series of doctors, none of whom are able to diagnose or treat his condition. His scheming son, the Price of Wales (Christopher Keegan) and the rival Whig party view this as a chance to claim power, and use the King’s malady to their own considerable advantage.

Haig mesmerises as the afflicted monarch, giving an empathetic and heart-breakingly realistic portrayal of a man losing his sanity. He seamlessly degenerates from an affable, wise-cracking king to a manic and lecherous lunatic, and painstakingly shows his slow recovery. His relationship with the Queen (Beatie Edney), whom he affectionately refers to as “Mrs. King” is deeply felt, and their reunion after her banishment is beautifully done by these two charismatic actors.

Director Christopher Luscombe keeps things moving at a brisk pace, and Janet Bird’s simple set design gives space for her lavish period costumes. The ensemble is strong overall, but some hammy performances detract from the overall production (Keegan and Thomas Wheatley as the Lord Chancellor are the main offenders). Clive Francis manages to bring a sense of propriety to proceedings as the king’s most successful doctor, a former clergyman from Lincolnshire who has a more modern approach to psychiatry that is nonetheless brutal. He provides the production’s sharpest punchline, when after being convinced by George to recite from Shakespeare’s own play about a mad monarch with ungrateful children, King Lear, claiming he “had no idea what it was about.”

Bennett is most successful when he avoids winking at the audience (a member of the court named Fortnum leaves to start a grocery in Piccadilly) and hones in on the greater context of the king’s descent into madness. Much of the posturing between the Whig and Tory parties is reminiscent of today’s political climate, and the primary concern as a result of the king’s health is that it could cause economic collapse. Bennett and Haig are both at their sharpest with king’s lament of the loss of America, rightly predicting that India, Africa, and even Ireland would surely follow. Haig’s George is not only plagued by madness, but by the realisation that the age of British imperialism would ultimately prove impermanent.

Tim Sullivan

 

Share Your Opinion of The Madness of George III…

Did you see The Madness of George III at the Theatre Royal Bath, or on its UK Tour? Do you think it is Alan Bennett’s best play or would you have preferred to have seen another one of his works come to the Apollo Theatre? Add your comments below!

Jerusalem

THIS SHOW IS CLOSED. YOU CAN NOT BOOK TICKETS.

Jerusalem is a comedy play by Jez Butterworth, set in Wiltshire, England on St. George’s Day. The lead character is Johnny ‘Rooster’ Byron who is a wanted man and referred to as a modern day Pied Piper. Everyone wants something from him; his mates want to get their hands on his ample supply of alcohol and drugs, his son wants him to take him to the local community fair, Troy Whitworth wants to beat him up and the council officials are looking to give him an eviction notice. So how will ‘Rooster’ handle it all?!

Jerusalem was first seen at the Royal Court Theatre in London in 2009 before transferring to the Apollo for a limited run of 12 weeks. It then went on to play on Broadway winning a Tony Award for Mark Rylance for Best Actor. The play now returns to the Apollo, opening on 17th October 2011 and with previews from the 8th October. It closes on 14th January 2012.

Cast Information

Olivier and Tony Award winning actor Mark Rylance will be continuing his role as Johnny ‘Rooster’ Byron. Rylance is a playwright as well as an actor, and was the first artistic of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre for ten years from 1995. Mackenzie Crook will also be reprising his role as Ginger in the play. Crook is best known for playing Gareth Keenan in hit comedy series The Office. Most of the orginal Royal Court cast will also reprise their roles in Jerusalem.

Show Length and Times

Performances of Jerusalem last approximately 3 hours and 10 minutes, including an interval. Evening performances start at 7.30pm every night from Monday to Saturday, and matinees begin at 1.30pm every Saturday, with extra matinees on 26th October, 2nd and 9th of November, 7th, 21st and 28th of December and 4th and 11th of January, all at 1.30pm. There are no performances on Sundays.

Critics’ reviews

“Butterworth and Rylance have created one of the great mischievous monsters of modern theatre, a Lord of Misrule on the same scale as Falstaff or Jeffrey Bernard, a Pied Piper of protest and disaffection.”
Michael Coveney at the Independent


Daily Telegraph LogoBarely off stage for more than three hours, Rylance transfixes the audience with his glittering eyes, challenging us to disbelieve his stories, and extracting every ounce of humour from Butterworth’s script.”
Charles Spencer at the Telegraph


The Guardian LogoMackenzie Crook, Tom Brooke and Danny Kirrane are all impressive in supporting roles, but the triumph belongs to Rylance for perfectly embodying Butterworth’s vision of a vanished demonic magic.”
Michael Billington at the Guardian

 

Our Review

 

For anyone coming to this play for the first time, the hype surrounding it, and more specifically the Tony and Olivier Award winning performance of Mark Rylance in the lead role of Johnny ‘Rooster’ Byron, certainly precedes it. A string of awards, multiple extensions and a successful stint on Broadway have all ensured that this 2009 state of the nation play by Jez Butterworth has become a modern classic. It is a rare sight these days to see a large West End venue completely full on a weekday evening, especially for a production that doesn’t star a celebrity from the X-Factor or involve Andrew Lloyd Webber. It is even rarer to see an audience spontaneously dragged to their feet to applaud what has to be one of the most memorable performances not of the year, but of the decade.

So far into the run the majority of the work has already been done. Audiences are no longer coming to see the play for a night out or to catch the latest trend. Audiences are now fighting for tickets, lining up at 5am each morning to see what critics globally have told us has to be seen. From Rylance’s first entrance onto the wonderfully detailed stage which included a realistic wood surrounding a full sized metal caravan, it was clear that the audience were behind him. The acclaim has already been won, and this new stint at the Apollo Theatre now feels like a victory lap.

The play does take a while to get going, and at the first interval a number of confused faces are wondering what exactly all the hype is about, frantically trying to work out if they have missed something and like the Emperor’s New Clothes, not wanting to appear foolish. Butterworth uses a long exposition scene to allow Rylance’s character to unfold slowly, rather than intimidating the audience and advancing the plot which happens over the course of one day. As Rooster faces eviction, his life is laid bare and not even the mother of his child or 6 year old son can show him what a mess he has become. He becomes a prophetic character to a band of hopeless teenagers who use him for his drugs and alcohol. A notorious character with a shady past, Rooster has become an outcast from society yet still manages to be at the centre of his own little world. The use of generations is expertly used through the character of Troy who has grown out of this atmosphere and come to see his step-daughter drawn like a moth to the flame, adding much needed breadth to the drama.

Of the other characters onstage very few of them are either likeable or interesting but it rarely matters. They serve their purpose within both the narrative and the atmosphere, becoming faces representing Rooster’s world before it comes crashing down. Sterling performances from all involved always feel genuine, and Ian Rickson’s direction is never anything but natural and subtle, even during the play’s wildest moments.

This ‘state of the nation’ play certainly resonates well with an audience who have seen similar events recently in the eviction of Dale Farm. The play not only questions the state of ‘England’s green and pleasant land’, but raises questions about those who have lost faith with modern society, retiring to the symbolically pastoral setting in a similar way to Rosalind or Autolycus. In this modern epic Butterworth creates a modern Shakespearean stock character, who is the ring leader to many and yet abandoned from any form of humanist feeling. The most touching scenes involve his family, as he is held up as a symbol of failure in his son’s eyes. The final act brings the raw emotion to the surface, although the bravado is maintained until the last moments.

The play has earned its place amongst other contemporary classics, although it will always be remembered for the performance as much as the text. It will be a brave man who takes on this role again in the future.

DOH, 16/11/2011

 

Add Your Review!

Have you been to see Mark Rylance’s stunning performance in Jerusalem at the Apollo Theatre in London? Did the show live up to your expectations or do you think the reviews praised the show too much? Add your review in the comments box below to help fellow theatregoers decide whether to see Jerusalem!

Wicked Apollo Victoria Theatre London

**Productions of Wicked are currently showing at the Apollo Victoria Theatre on 17 Wilton Road, and not at the Apollo Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue**

Wicked is perhaps one of the most popular musicals ever to be performed, with audiences worldwide flocking to see the tale of the witches of Oz in the years long before and then after Dorothy enters the scene. Since its opening in October 2003 on Broadway, over 2 million people have seen the musical and it has smashed record after record at the box office, including in the West End where it still holds the title of biggest opening (with over £100,000 taken in the first hour of ticket sales). Wicked has managed the rare feat of mirroring the adulation of the public with the approval of the critics, with previous accolades including a Tony award for Best Actress and an Olivier award for Most Popular Show.

Story

The musical is a reimagining of the land of Oz known to audiences from the Wizard of Oz film of the 1930s, transporting us back in time beyond Dorothy’s arrival in this world to the magical education of two witches, Elphaba and Glinda, who will eventually become the Wicked Witch of the West and Good Witch of the North. Against the backstory of the famous events of Oz that fans of the original novel and film will know so well, Wicked details the course of the two girls’ friendship up to and beyond the appearance of Dorothy, and combines fantasy with the exploration of why one becomes good and the other evil. The songs in the musical are dramatic and almost like a film score, and include numbers like ‘For Good’ and the emotional new classic ‘Defying Gravity’.

The popularity of Wicked across the last 8 years can be seen in its encroachment upon popular culture, with references to the show appearing in TV series as diverse as Glee, The Simpsons, Ugly Betty and Brothers & Sisters. The 2009 production of Shrek the Musical parodied its music, and John Barrowman adapted the song ‘The Wizard and I’ during his UK tour in 2008.

Tickets

Performances of Wicked can be viewed in London’s West End at the Apollo Victoria Theatre, and are at present showing at 7.30pm from Monday to Saturday with additional matinee performances at 2.30pm on Wednesdays and Saturdays. There is a selection of different seats available in the stalls and the circle, depending on how close you want to feel to the action and what you are prepared to spend per ticket. Wicked the musical tickets are available from as little as £22.50 per person and reductions for top-priced seats to £62.50, as well as a number of great dinner and show packages. More information on Wicked is available at Wicked London.org and a seating plan for the Apollo Victoria Theatre can be found at Apollo Victoria Theatre.org

Yes, Prime Minister

Yes, Prime Minister Poster

THIS SHOW IS CLOSED. YOU CAN NOT BOOK TICKETS.

Yes, Prime Minister is the biting and side-splitting political play that returned to London’s West End in July 2011, following a hugely successful national tour and a previous sell-out London run at the Gielgud Theatre in 2010. It takes the satirical genius of the 1980s hit BBC sitcom of the same name and updates it for the Blackberry generation, resulting in a raucous and highly modern condemnation of the political machinations at work behind our country’s key figures.

Brought to the stage by the original TV writers Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn, the much-loved (or reviled) characters of Prime Minister Jim Hacker and Permanent Secretary Sir Humphrey Appleby are back to wade through the morally ambiguous waters of contemporary politics. Heading a tension-ridden coalition government and with a country on the brink of economic crisis, PM Jim Hacker is surrounded by dubious advisors and is himself on the verge of panic. A glimpse of rescue comes in the form of the ambassador of oil-rich Asian state Kumranistan, but to make it a reality Hacker must facilitate an ethically questionable deal…will inept civil servants, media saturation and desperate ambition triumph over morality?

Cast Information

Simon Williams and the Oliver award-nominated Richard McCabe continued in their roles from the UK-wide tour as Sir Humphrey Appleby and Prime Minister Jim Hacker. Chris Larkin played Principal Private Secretary Bernard Woolley, and Charlotte Lucas accompanied him as the Special Policy Advisor, Claire Sutton. The Kumranistan Ambassador was portrayed by Kevork Malikyan, and the media was represented by Jonathan Coote as Jeremy Burnham, the Director-General of the BBC, and Michael Fenton Stevens as BBC presenter Simon Chester.

Critics’ reviews

Daily Telegraph Logo“A telling satire on the unscrupulousness of government, this updated stage version of the TV sitcom reduces its audience to helpless hilarity.”
Charles Spencer at the Telegraph

 

London Evening Standard Logo“A delightful stream of one-liners…David Cameron and Ed Miliband should treat themselves to an instructive night out.”
Fiona Mountfort at the London Evening Standard

 

 

The Guardian Logo“The whole point of this buoyant farce, with its references to everything from politicians’ fear of the Daily Mail to the tacky commercialism of the BBC, is that it locates its madness in a world we all recognise.”
Michael Billington at the Guardian