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London Spotlight: May 2010

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George Lee Andrews, Kate Baldwin, Nancy Opel,
Mandy Patinkin, Jude Kaye, Shuler Hensley,
and John McMartin star in Paradise Found
(© Tristan Fuge)
The musical event of the month takes place south of the Thames at the vest-pocket sized Menier Chocolate Factory, as Broadway guiding-lights Harold Prince and Susan Stroman direct an original musical called Paradise Found (May 19-June 26), based on Joseph Roth's novel, The Tale of the 1002nd Night and with music by Johann Strauss II. The all-American cast features Mandy Patinkin, Kate Baldwin, Judy Kaye, John McMartin, Shuler Hensley, Daniel Marcus, Nancy Opel, Herndon Lackey and George Lee Andrews. The jaw-dropping names also associated with this enterprise include librettist Richard Nelson, lyricist Ellen Fitzhugh, arranger Jonathan Tunick, set designer Beowulf Boritt and lighting designer Howell Binkley.

The drama event of the month is sure to be the revival of Arthur Miller's monumental All My Sons at the Apollo (May 19-September 11), directed by the extremely impressive Howard Davies and starring the always superb David Suchet and Zoe Wanamaker. It's the painful tale of a man whose lies about his role as the manufacturer of airplane parts in World War II destroys his family.

Other dramas include, at the Barbican, the Herzyliya production of Iram (May 19-29), a stage version of Sholom Aleichem's often side-splitting short stories. Nick Grosso's comedy about addiction, Ingredient X, arrives at the Royal Court (May 20-June 19) with Lesley Sharp heading the cast. Love the Sinner by Drew Pautz comes to the National (May 4-June 17), and is about a group of clergymen at an African hotel, with soul-saving on their minds. The Man at the Finborough in the fringe (May 25-June 19) sounds unusually intriguing. It's a solo play about taxes and requires a different actor every performance.

As for revivals, Helen McCrory will star in Simon Gray's funnily melancholic play, The Late Middle Ages, at the Donmar Warehouse (May 27-July 17). The plot examines middle-class life in 1950's England. David Leveaux, who knows his way around this sort of material, directs. At the Open Air in Regents Park, another Arthur Miller play is available -- The Crucible (May 24-June 19) -- with Oliver Ford Davies among the players traveling back to 17th-century Salem, Massachusetts and the witch hunts that strangely foreshadow 20th-century political witch-hunts. August Wilson's magnificent Joe Turner's Come and Gone settles into the Young Vic (May 27-July 3). David Lan helms the search an ex-con goes on to reclaim his interrupted life. Also making a return is the Tom Jones-Harvey Schmidt musical fantasy of young love, The Fantasticks at the Duchess (May 24-September 5).

Attention, William Shakespeare hound dogs: At the Globe, Henry VIII (May 15-August 21, in repertory), perhaps the Bard's least-produced history play, will be aired with Dominic Rowan as the monarch who liked marriage so much he tied the knot six times. Only one wife figures prominently in this narrative. Up at the Tricycle, the creative Filter ensemble returns with their clever-clever take on Twelfth Night (May 4-29).

Families looking for something special might want to journey to the Barbican where David Greig's adaptation of J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan takes flight (May 2-29). Or maybe a trip to Greenwich for Elephant at the Greenwich (May 20-23). It's a performance piece said to be especially lively. Or still more, The Hobbit at the New Wimbledon (May 4-9), which probably needs no explanation for Tolkien lovers.

Why not make the short jaunt to Richmond, where Agatha Christie's Witness for the Prosecution resurfaces (May 10-15) with Honeysuckle Weeks in the cast? Later in the month, the great Tom Conti shows up in Eric Chappell's Wife After Death (May 10-15) about a dead comic whose transgressions come to light after he's kicked the bucket. At Kingston's Rose Theatre, the adorable Janie Dee and the hugely likable Aden Gillett are dusting off Andre Roussin's 1950's sex comedy, The Little Hut (May 10-15).

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