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UK Roundup - Lord/Rings, Chris Carmack, Ave Q, Porgy/Bess

Despite closing in Toronto in September, the British stage premiere of Lord of the Rings will still go ahead next June. The production had originally planned to open in London, but due to the lack of a large enough venue went to Canada instead. Now – with the closure of Mel Brooks' The Producers on January 6th – the production can move into the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in 2007, with previews set for May 9th with an opening date over a month later on June 19th. Tickets will range from £15-60 but at each performance producer Kevin Wallace promises 450 tickets will be available at £27.50 or less. The creative team includes Brits Matthew Warchus, Rob Howell and Peter Darling (as director, designer and choreographer respectively).

According to the Daily Mail, The OC's Chris Carmack is to star alongside Rosamund Pike in a new production of Tennessee Williams' Summer and Smoke. Expected to be directed by Adrian Noble, the production will open out of town at the Nottingham Playhouse and then transfer to the West End in the Autumn. Carmack played Luke Ward in the popular teenage drama but also has had roles in Smallville and Related. Pike, who famously bared all onstage in Hitchcock Blonde, includes Pride and Prejudice and Die Another Day amongst her credits. Details about the production are expected to be confirmed soon.

Avenue Q has had a mixed reception at the newly named Noel Coward Theatre (formerly the Albery). Critics mainly criticised the plot – 'extract the puppetry and the best of the songs, and the story is awfully ordinary' (Times), 'by the second half, I found myself mentally rechristening it Avenue ZZZ' (Telegraph) - but also its transatlantic crossing – 'there is something very New Yorkish about the emphasis on cosy village life and private dreams' (Guardian). There are, however, enough strong quotes to pick out of the reviews, mainly praising the fun side of the show – 'Jason Moore's bouncy, enjoyable production' (Independent), 'there's something almost refreshing in several of the jaunty-sounding songs' (Times). The Broadwayworld.com review can be read here.  

Meanwhile at the Duchess Theatre farce revival See How They Run has received very strong reviews – mainly in the four/five star region - whilst Katie Mitchell's revival of The Seagull at the National mostly negative reviews, the majority sitting at the two star mark. 

Director Sir Trevor Nunn has cut down the four hour Gershwin opera Porgy and Bess to a two-and-a-half hour musical, which will open in the West End later this year. Given the full blessing by the Gershwin estate, his adaptation – with music arrangements by Gareth Valentine - will play at the Savoy Theatre from October 25th, with opening night set for November 9th. Featuring classic songs such as Summertime and I Got Plenty o' Nuttin, Porgy and Bess could well cash in on being a classic revival for older audiences; it opens in a fiercly competitive Autumn season against Wicked, Spamalot, Dirty Dancing and Cabaret.

The programme for this year's Edinburgh Fringe Festival has been announced. Flicking through the brochure I've picked a few high-profile events I think will be popular: Les Dennis in Marlon Brando's Corset, Phil Nichol in Sam Shepard's True West, Tim Fountain's adaptation of Midnight Cowboy, a great cast including Phil Nichol (again), Valda Aviks and Stephen K Amos in Talk Radio – directed by Jerry Springer the Opera's Stewart Lee, a new play directed by Tony-nominated director Wilson Milam (Lieutenant of Inishmore), Black Watch by acclaimed writer Gregory Burke, Lunch with Christine and Neil Hamilton and a transfer of the Menier Chocolate Factory's Breakfast with Johnny Wilkinson plays the Scottish capital too. More details at www.edfringe.com.

To read more reviews, click here!
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From This Author - Jake Brunger