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London Spotlight: August 2008

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Lisa O'Hare in rehearsal for Gigi
(© Alastair Muir)
Musical lovers looking for thrills will find them at the Open Air Theatre in Regent's Park, where the stage adaptation of Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe's Gigi will be opening (August 6-September 13). Topol and Millicent Martin play the older and wise ex-lovers guiding the title character, played by Lisa O'Hare, to true romance. Timothy Sheader is directing and Stephen Mear of Mary Poppins is choreographing.

Lots of music in Piaf as well, which is Pam Gems' revise of her click 1978 play opening at the Donmar Warehouse (August 8-September 20). Elena Roger, who made quite a splash last year in the Evita revival, once again plays a real-life figure. And once again, the superb dancer will be playing someone who didn't do that much terping. Oh, well, her acting and singing are pretty good, too. Don't forget that Elaine Stritch is reprising her accoladed At Liberty (July 31-August 10) at the Shaw Theatre. Anyone who has any feel for musical comedy would be foolish to pass up the opportunity to see an indefatigable octogenarian at large.

As for new plays, there's Glyn Maxwell's Liberty at the Globe (August 31-October 4). This French Revolution-era drama is an adaptation of Anatole France's novel, The Gods Are Hungry, and the always seductive Belinda Lang is in the cast of eight. Something eye-catching called Tory Boyz is opening at the Soho (August 15-September 9). During the proceedings, North England working-class Sam doesn't mind telling the pater and mater he's gay, but when it comes to admitting he's joining the Tory party, oh, brother! This is a National Youth Theatre production and apparently reflects the changing political population 'round these parts.

At the Hackney Empire out in Bethnal Green, Angie Le Mar will head the cast of her play Forty (August 2-17) about a class reunion that doesn't turn out to be everything that was expected. Another item to look into is A Conversation With Edith Head at the Arts Theatre (through August 31). The solo piece is Susan Claassen pretending to be the legendary Paramount Studios costume designer, famous for wearing huge glass frames, who worked on 1131 movies.

A couple of returns, too, to liven up the month. At the Tricycle, Kwame Kwei-Armah's Let There Be Love is back (August 5-30). When the production played here only a few months ago, it sold out. Also at the Young Vic, the estimable Peter Brook is sprucing up Fragments, his vigorous staging of five Samuel Beckett short pieces -- Rough for Theatre 1, Rockaby, Act Without Words, Neither and Come and Go.

It also might be a smart idea to travel to Theatre Royal, Bath where the thoughtful and always delightful Alan Bennett has Enjoy (August 12-30), directed by Christopher Luscombe and starring the hilarious Alison Steadman and David Troughton.


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