Derek Robertson, December 2017
New York City’s Broadway might be the gold standard when it comes to treading the boards, but London – especially the West end – is no slouch when it comes to world class theatre and performance. From a rich tradition of musicals – which were more or less invented in their current form by impresario Andrew Lloyd Webber – to Hollywood A lister’s testing their acting chops in demanding plays, and everything in between, the capital truly has a show for everyone.
Les Miserables @ Queen’s Theatre, Soho
There’s a reason that this is the second longest running show in the West End (since 1985); it is one of the productions that blazed a trail for the modern musical as we know it. Regal, glamorous, and packed with classic songs and moments, it’s based on a classic French novel, and has seen a number of superstar actors and singers launch their careers with a turn as one of the principles. For pure, spine-tingling excitement and drama, watching the Best of the Best sing ‘On My Own’ and ‘All I Ask Of You’ is damn near unbeatable.
Pre-theatre food: Venetian sharing plates, cheese, and meat are the name of the game at Tozi, where a pre-theatre selection of delights is only £19.95 per person. Book Here
Network @ National Theatre
“I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!” Apt words for the troubled times we live in. So it seems only fitting that Sidney Lumet’s darkly satirical film Network has been adapted for the stage and updated for 2017, with Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston – making his UK stage debut – in the lead role made famous by Peter Finch. And it’s not just the five-star reviews that make this a must-see – to see the power of TV and the corrupting influence of big business on the media dissected with such wit is timely viewing.
Pre-theatre food: For classic, French-bistro inspired dishes with a twist, head to Brasserie Joël, where they have a pre-theatre menu of three courses (which change daily) and a Bellini for only £25. Book Now
Matilda @ Cambridge Theatre
Roald Dahl is one of the UK’s most cherished children’s author, and for good reason – his charming tales of fantastic adventures captured the hearts and minds of adults and youngsters alike. Matilda, a story about a precociously intelligent young girl finding fulfillment and fighting back against bullying, is the first of his books to be adapted, and it’s a hoot; hilarious and moving in equal measure, it boats a score by acclaimed Australian comic Tim Minchin and a stellar cast who bring Dahl’s rich characters fantastically to life.
A Christmas Carol @ The Old Vic
It might only run until the 20th of January, but this meeting of three classically British institutions – Charles Dickins, the Old Vic, and actor Rhys Ifans – is not to be missed! The venerated Christmas tale about generosity, equality, and redemption has been given a makeover by acclaimed playwright Jack Thorne and features plenty of festive fun and cheer; big songs and a big heart make this a joyous show for the whole family.
Pre-theatre food: Florentine is an all day bar and kitchen that offers an incredibly good value pre-theatre menu (£14.95 for two courses, £17.95 for three) from Sunday to Friday, 5pm to 7.30pm. Book Now
All’s Well That End’s Well @ The Globe
Ah, Shakespeare! Widely considered to be the greatest writer who ever lived, his work has truly stood the test of time; tragedy, comedy, romance, satire – nothing was beyond his sharp wit and inventive way with words. His Globe Theatre was constructed by his own playing company in 1599, and while sadly destroyed by fire this new version, built in a traditional style, is located just a few metres away from the original site. Unsurprisingly, the program is dedicated to all things Bard, and the New Year sees a run of All’s Well That Ends Well, a tragi-comedy about love and war and youthful rebellion set in the French Court. For a quintessential slice of British history in wonderful settings, this is hard to top.
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