UK Roundup - New National season, Christian Slater, awards galore!

More details about the new National Theatre season have been announced -

  • In the Olivier Theatre as part of the £10 Travelex ticket season, Michael Gambon will play Falstaff in Henry IV parts 1 and 2 in May, a free adaptation by David Farr of The Government Inspector – retitled The UN Inspector – opens in June, and David Edgar's Playing with Fire opens in September.
  • The Lyttleton Theatre's highlight is Jim Broadbent in Theatre of Blood, a revival of Brian Friel's Aristocrats, Martin Crimp's Attempts On Her Life, physical theatre company DV8's Just for Show and a new version of Ibsen's Ghosts by Nicholas Wright.
  • New plays form the schedule in the intimate Cottesloe Theatre. There is collaboration between the National and the Kneehigh Theatre – Tristan and Yseult, then a production in association with the Manchester Royal Exchange – Simon Stephens' On the Shore of the Wide World, the premiere of Howard Brenton's Paul, Steven Knight's President of an Empty Room and hopefully in September the latest play from Mike Leigh.

More awards this week – this time from the critics and the fans. The Critics' Circle Awards, voted by Britain's theatre critics, and the Awards, voted by the theatregoing public, rewarded The Producers with Best New Musical and The History Boys with Best New Play, echoing the decisions at the Evening Standard Awards. Richard Griffiths and Victoria Hamilton picked up Best Actor and Actress with the critics, again as with the Evening Standard Awards, but it was Christian Slater and Diana Rigg who were popular with fans. In the musical categories on, Nathan Lane and Maria Friedman took the top awards with Angela Christian and Michael Crawford – both from the Woman in White – taking the supporting awards. Visit for a full list of winners and their acceptance speeches.

West End theatre is experiencing its best ever takings since records began. With 'the big three' pushing up sales dramatically, as well as the sell-out revival of One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest with Christian Slater amongst others. Whilst the West End is coy about publishing individual show figures - as is commonplace on Broadway - the total intake came to £341,758,566. With many tickets now at Broadway prices, especially with the current exchange rate, there has often been criticism at expensive prices and discounts are readily available for many shows. This year Acorn Antiques pushes the price up to £65 - way beyond Broadway level - but whatever the price may be, the West End is going through a really strong phase, which is great for everyone.


Speaking of Christian Slater, he's 'slated' to return to the West End later this year in a revival of Tennessee Williams' Sweet Bird of Youth playing Chance Wayne, the part epitomised on screen by Paul Newman. Who would play his Princess could be interesting – a host of older, mature actresses would be perfect in the role, in the way that The Graduate gave them a ground to showcase their talent. Christian Slater has just finished his run in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, but sadly it ended on a low note when someone attempted to stab him. A bodyguard took the blow but thankfully it only ripped his clothes. The run of Cuckoo's Nest got off to a bumpy start in August when the actor contracted chicken pox, pushing back the opening of the show. He is expected to return in the Autumn with the same producer, Nica Burns.

Two exciting events for avid theatre fans coming up. Firstly, the hit American PBS series Broadway: The American Musical will be broadcast on British television. On BBC4 - an arts channel that has previously broadcast musicals, plays and operas – the six-part series will air weekly from Thursday 17th February at 8pm. The first episode features musicals from 1893 and the series ends right up to current day with Wicked and The Producers. Secondly, at the Theatre Museumin Covent Garden an exhibition by Simon Annand gives an intriguing insight into actors' dressing rooms. From Dame Judi Dench in the West End to soap-stars performing in panto, it promises to be a must-see event. The exhibition will take place – fittingly – in two dressing rooms.



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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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