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UK Roundup

A fan of Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials? If so, The National Theatre is the place to be this week as finally their stage adaptation of the books has opened, after being dogged by technical problems, postponing the press night. They've staged the trilogy in two separate parts totalling six hours of theatre enjoyment. Jerry Springer the Opera pulled in a younger audience to the National and His Dark Materials is bringing in an even younger one, with all performances sold out before the critics got their hands on it. Is there anything the National can do wrong?

Debating over what the 100 Greatest Musicals are would cause great difficulty I imagine, people have so many different tastes and opinions that it would be near impossible. But is 70s smash Grease really the greatest musical of all time? According to a poll by British station Channel 4, which is known for its love of American sitcoms - Friends, Frasier, Will and Grace - Grease is the best, and it was voted for by viewers, so who can complain? Well, the theatregoing public actually - Miss Saigon was at 99, below 'musicals' such as The Muppets in Space and the Bjork movie, and that says something about how inaccurate the poll was regarding 'greatest'.

In the backstreets of the City lurks a theatrical laboratory like no other, presenting musicals that others wouldn't dream of taking risks on - think tiny off-Broadway basement theatres. This month the Bridewell Theatre, as it's known, stages the rarely performed Victor/Victoria, starring Ria Jones in the role made famous by Julie Andrews. The Bridewell is a big Jason Robert Brown fan - he's done fundraising concerts and the British premiere of Songs for a New World took place in the venue, which was renovated from a Victorian bath - but sadly it faces closure as its rent-free plot has expired and it now owes £100,000 ($177k) if it would like to stay there. £100,000 a year. Such a small theatre, with a maximum ticket price of £16.50 ($30), cannot survive and is hoping for a miracle. Stay tuned.

The current reworking of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Song and Dance - now known as Tell Me On A Sunday - is to have another revival in its solo cast member.. the return of Marti Webb, for whom the show was written. Webb, who is currently appearing in Thoroughly Modern Millie as the alternate Mrs Meers, will take a month off from the show to take over from Denise Van Outen, who has played the role since April. Marti Webb takes over from January 13th through to the, appropriately timed, final performance on Valentines Day.

Season plans in the provinces have been unveiled for the next few months, including a tour of American import Footloose, which may tout for a West End run afterwards, a production of off-Broadway hit Bat Boy (at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, known for its love of quirky American musicals) and Diana Rigg takes to the stage with Tony Award nominee Victoria Hamilton in Tennessee Williams' Suddenly Last Summer.

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From This Author Jake Brunger

Jake is currently studying at Bristol University and hopes to eventually pursue a career in the theatre industry as a writer/director. His favourite writers include (read more...)

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