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NYTimes' Brantley Does London Journal on Sweet Charity and The Misanthrope

In a journal entry on the Arts Beat blog, New York Times theatre critic Ben Brantley writes of his recent outing to two of the most-talked about shows in the West End at the moment: the revival of 'Sweet Charity' running at the Menier starring Tamzin Outhwaite and 'The Misanthrope' with Keira Knightley making her West End debut.

Citing the deep freeze that is presently gripping London, Brantley notes that audiences filed in to the shows seemingly hoping to counter the chill with inspiring performances, "Ms. Knightley, in an earnest West End debut, does inspire a certain parental warmth. But it's the latest offering from the Menier -- the doughty little incubator of West End and Broadway hits like "Sunday in the Park With George" and "A Little Night Music" - that stirs the old embers." he says in his entry.

Of Knightley's performance as 'Jennifer' the American film star and socialite, Brantley writes, "Still, while she would seem to be rigorously typecast as Jennifer, a 22-year-old movie star grappling with the corrupting force of fame, Ms. Knightley does not fit the part naturally. At first her performance comes across as a tasty satiric take on the type of vacuous California screen goddess who usually peaks well before 30."

Reflecting on 'Sweet Charity', Brantley notes, "The show is too long, and the big numbers that aren't set in the dance hall are short on Broadway precision and pizzazz. But there's something truly haunting in watching these characters try to stave off the recognition that life won't get any better than it is now."

To read the rest of Brantley's entry in the New York Times, please click here.

THE MISANTHROPE begin previews in the West End today, December 5th. As previously announced, the cast will include TAra Fitzgerald, Keira Knightley, Damian Lewis, Tim McMullan, and Dominic Rowan. Joining the cast will be Chuk Iwuji, Kelly Price, and Nicholas Le Prevost. Directed by Thea Sharrock, the play opens at the Comedy Theatre on December 17. The production will run through March 13, 2010.

Transported from 17th century Paris to modern-day London, Alceste (Damian Lewis) is a famous British playwright disillusioned and angry with the hypocrisy, shallowness and vanity of the contemporary world. Vowing to reject society, Alceste's plans are derailed when he falls madly in love with Jennifer (Keira Knightley). An ambitious American film star and darling of the social scene, she may prove to be his biggest challenge yet.

Keira Knightley has established herself as one of the most talented and versatile screen actresses of her generation. Having first come to the audience's attention in the surprise film hit Bend It Like Beckham she has gone on to star in Joe Wright's award-winning film Atonement with James McAvoy, The Duchess, The Edge Of Love with Sienna Miller, Domino, The Jacket, Pride And Prejudice and as the feisty Elizabeth Swann in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. She has recently completed filming on the movies Never Let Me Goand the highly anticipated London Boulevard both due for release later this year. Her television credits include the critically acclaimed remake of Doctor Zhivago, Oliver and Coming Home.

"EastEnders" star Tamzin Outhwaite plays the title role of Charity Hope Valentine in a Menier Chocolate Factory revival of the Cy Coleman, Dorothy Fields and Neil Simon musical, 'Sweet Charity'. 'Sweet Charity' is directed by Matthew White with choreography by Stephen Mears. The show will run through March 7th, 2010.

'Sweet Charity' follows the misadventures of love encountered by the gullible and guileless Charity Hope Valentine, a dance hall hostess who always gives her heart and dreams to the wrong man. The musical features such classic songs as "Hey, Big Spender," and "If My Friends Could See Me Now".


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