2012: What To Expect In Theatre In The West End And Around The UK!
Well, it seems to be a moderately quiet year so far. We all know that the Olympics are expected to completely ruin West End business – that's what Andrew Lloyd Webber is telling us, anyhow – which unsurprisingly is putting the kybosh on major openings.
However, we have the fabulous Singin' In The Rain coming to the Palace in February. Any show with Adam Cooper in is worth seeing by definition (he remains my favourite-ever Sky Masterson, and was an utter delight to interview).
I'm not so excited about Top Hat, despite loving the work of Summer Strallen; Tom Chambers is my least-favourite Strictly Come Dancing winner, but I suppose I'll give it a go when it opens at the Aldwych in April.
The much-anticipated Sweeney Todd arrives in London from Chichester in March – too late for this year's Oliviers, but I expect Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton to lead the charge for the 2013 awards.
Pop along to the Park this summer and you'll see Ragtime and A Midsummer Night's Dream performed at the Open Air Theatre – no details on either yet, but they're bound to be worth a look.
We have some big names heading to the UK as well – Cate Blanchett will star in Gross und Klein at the Barbican from April, Eve Best is the Duchess of Malfi at the Old Vic from March, and Danny De Vito is expected to star alongside Richard Griffiths in Neil Simon's The Sunshine Boys.
Keep an eye on the London fringe too – the Landor, always my favourite off-West End venue with its innovative, creative programming, has a marvellous cabaret season starting this month, with stars including Jeremy Legat, Liz Robertson, Lucy May Barker and Clive Rowe. The Southwark Playhouse is also making a name for itself, and its production of Floyd Collins will be worth catching, with Robyn North and Glenn Carter starring.
There's some great stuff on tour and in the regions as well, with John Owen Jones and Earl Carpenter doing a job-share for the revamped Phantom of the Opera, and Victoria Hamilton-Barritt and Caroline O'Connor teaming up as Mama and daughter in Leicester's Gypsy.
I'm also excited about Wonderful Town, not so much about Connie Fisher leading the cast but about Michael Xavier playing opposite her – we need to see more incredibly talented, incredibly tall leading men in musical theatre.
Xavier has also been workshopping Bridget Jones's Diary (as were Bertie Carvel and Julian Ovenden at one stage – whatever else might be said about the production at any point, there can be no questioning their impeccable tastes in male protagonists) – no word yet as to how near completion it might be, with songs by Lily Allen, but this one seems a dead cert to hit the stage soon.
Expect a lot of buzz around I Dreamed A Dream, the musical of Susan Boyle's life story – Elaine C Smith is playing our heroine, but our heroine herself will make an appearance in the finale. It's all a bit meta for me.
I'm also looking forward to seeing Mark Evans and Siobhan Dillon take over as Sam and Molly in Ghost after the departures of Richard Fleeshman and Caissie Levy to Broadway – both have incredible voices and a modicum of TV fame, sure to attract the passing punter.
What are you looking forward to in 2012?