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London Spotlight: December 2009

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Duncan James and Sheridan Smith
in Legally Blonde
(© Uli Weber)
The single but not inestimable song-and-dance entry this holiday time is Legally Blonde: The Musical that enterprising producer Sonia Friedman and others have imported from Broadway, once again directed and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell. The local cast is led by Sheridan Smith as Elle Woods, along with Peter Davison, Jill Halfpenny, Duncan James, and Alex Gaumond.

Pamela Anderson, Anita Dobson Ruby Wax, and Paul O'Grady will be among the guest performers playing Genie in the Lamp in the Pantomime production of Aladdin at the New Wimbledon (December 4-January 17), with the regular cast headed up by Brian Blessed. Pantomimes also include Mother Goose at the Greenwich (December 1-January 3) by and starring Andrew Pollard. Meanwhile, Matthew Bourne's iconoclastic version of the ballet Swan Lake is at Sadler's Wells (December 10-January 24).

The attention-getting event here this frame could be Martin Crimp's adaptation of Moliere's The Misanthrope at the Comedy (December 7-March 12, 2010). The main attraction is Keira Knightley joining Damian Lewis, Tara Fitzgerald and Dominic Rowan. Thrill seekers will want to hotfoot it to the Almeida for a revival of Patrick Hamilton's 1929 opus, Rope (December 10-February 6). Roger Michell directs the chilly tale of two boys who murder a classmate and then invite the dead boy's family to tea. Yes, Alfred Hitchcock directed the movie version.

New works this month include John Logan's Red at the Donmar Warehouse (December 3-February 6), which will be directed by company head Michael Grandage. The play is about the painter Mark Rothko, and the memorable life he led while painting his spiritual canvases. At the Duchess is another peek at a real-life person: Morecambe (December 9-January 17), wherein Bob Golding plays comedy icon Eric Morecambe. Then there's The Stefan Golaszewski Plays at the Bush (December 2-January 9), written by and starring the eponymous fellow. Love at ages 18 and 76, respectively, is the subject of these one-acts from the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Darker Shores at the Hampstead (December 3-January 16) is a ghost story, set at Christmas, 1875, and includes Julian Rhind-Tutt and Mark Catiss in the cast.

Gregory Doran's production of Twelfth Night opens at the Duke of York's (December 19-February 2). And speaking of the Bard, the Globe is offering Footsbarn's Christmas Cracker (December 22-January 3, 2010), which heralds the season with excerpts from Shakespeare's works.

Looking for an excuse to travel out of town: How about Bath and the Theatre Royal where Susan Hampshire will star in Simon Reade's Pride and Prejudice adaptation (December 7-12). Same spot, later in the month is Alan Bennett's enduringly popular The History Boys (December 26-31), directed by Christopher Luscombe. Or the entire family gang could journey the short distance to Kingston's Rose Theatre for Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island (December 11-January 9) in Karen Louise Hebden's treatment, directed by Stephen Unwin.

There are many other family events on the docket. Cabaret Simon is at the Barbican (December 16-31), billed as "a cabaret extravaganza for 4-10 year olds." At the Hampstead is Charlie and Lola's Best Bestest Play (December 10-February 1), with lots of puppets, along with magic for 3-6 year olds. Scope out The Cat in the Hat by the great Dr. Seuss and directed by the pretty terrific Katie Mitchell at the National's Cottesloe (December 11-January 18). Or Stick Man at the Soho (December 10-January 10), an adaptation of Julia Donaldson's book. And get a load of this opportunity: Potted Potter: The Unauthorized Harry Experience at Trafalgar Studios (December 8-January 2), which Daniel Clarkson and Jefferson Turner wrote and appear in. The audience is invited to join in an actual Quidditch game.

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