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London Spotlight: June 2011

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John Doyle
(© Tristan Fuge)
Musical sounds abound this month. The most intriguing could well be the Stephen Sondheim-John Weidman Road Show at the Menier Chocolate Factory (June 24-September 17). This is the property, once called Bounce and before that Wise Guys, that looks at the lives of the weird brothers Mizner. John Doyle, who directed and designed the New York production a few years back, repeats his duties for the London staging.

Also intriguing is the musical adaptation of Ken Ludwig's farce, Lend Me a Tenor The Musical at the Gielgud (June 2-November 19). With that title, it's a wonder it hasn't sprouted ditties before, but here they come via Peter Sham and Brad Carroll, as directed by Ian Talbot. The popular Joanna Riding adorns the ensemble. But wait, there's more. Ghost The Musical penetrates the Piccadilly four walls (June 22-January 28). Those adding the songs to the popular film are Bruce Joel Rubin (music) and Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard (lyrics), and never-misses Matthew Warchus directs.

Shakespearean fans are in for a treat as Kevin Spacey takes the stage as Richard III in the chilly little opus of the same name. The production is at the Old Vic (June 18-September 11) and is directed by Sam Mendes as the inauguration of his last Bridge Project season. The greats Gemma Jones and Haydn Gwynne also appear. Hampstead artistic director Edward Hall brings his Propeller company onto the stage for a surely startling alternate (or additional) Richard III (June 22-August 9) in repertory with his amazing Comedy of Errors (June 23-August 9).

Simon Callow's Being Shakespeare, a solo show about you-know-who is at Trafalgar Studios 1, June 15-July 23. Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus bows at the Globe (June 18-October 2) with Matthew Dunster helming.

Dominic West, late of The Wire, shows up as Simon Gray's disgruntled Butley title character at the Duchess (June 1-August 27). Lindsay Posner, who energetically goes from one play to another, directs. How about Friedrich Schiller's Luise Miller at the Donmar Warehouse (June 8-August 30) in a new Mike Poulton version? It'll be guided by soon-to-depart artistic director Michael Grandage and has a cast including Alex Kingston and Finty Williams.

Geared for dark fun is Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead at the Haymarket (June 16-August 20). Trevor Nunn, yet another when-does-he-rest director, oversees actors Samuel Barnett and Jamie Parker in the title roles. Arnold Wesker's Chicken Soup With Barley opens at the Royal Court's Theatre Downstairs (June 3-July 9). Nice to see some attention paid the once extremely influential Wesker, who wrote plenty about his East London Jewish upbringing.

When's the last time Henrik Ibsen's Emperor and Galilean was on offer? It is now, in a new Ben Power version, directed by the revered Jonathan Kent. This flight of the imagination travels from Greece to the Middle East and is performed by, among others, Ian MacDiarmid. Richard Jones directs Nikolai Gogol's The Government Inspector in a new David Harrower version at the Young Vic (June 3-July 9).

As for new plays: Where's My Seat? by Deirdre Kinahan, Tom Wells, and Jack Thorne comes to the Bush (June 15-August 2). It's really three one-acts during which the audience will be involved with exploring and maybe even rearranging of seats in the company's new space. Tarell Alvin McCraney, who's been wowing the Manhattan critics, has American Trade landing at the Hampstead (June 2-28). Jamie Lloyd, one of the town's tireless directors, works on this one about a New York City hustler who exports himself to London to set-up an escort business disguised as a model agency.

At the Royal Court Upstairs is Penelope Skinner's expectant-parents comedy, The Village Bike (June 24-July 23). Simon Godwin directs the wonderful Denis Lawson and others in the tale of how a brief encounter affects several lives. Also, look into the regularly inquisitive Soho Theatre fare, where Julian Armitstead's After the Accident (June 6-18), Anthony Neilson's Realism (June 9-July 9) and Lou Ramden's Hundreds & Thousands (June 21-July 16) all bow. One probably not to miss is the Iraq-war-and-torture drama, Tactical Questioning: Scenes From the Baha Moussa Inquiry at the Tricycle (June 2-July 2). Sounds guaranteed to shake audiences up.

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