April is clearly seen as a good month by many to open a new production in London. There’s two bank holidays either side of the Easter weekend, spirits are high as the days get longer and, at last, there’s a better-than-slim chance of some summer sunshine. April is undoubtedly an upbeat month with plenty to look forward to. This enthusiasm clearly shows amongst producers, with more previews for shows officially due to open in May testing the water this month, alongside a diverse number of both big budget and more modest fringe productions.
The West-End will welcome a number of musicals based on successful Hollywood blockbusters this year like The Bodyguard and Bridget Jones Diary. But it’s a movie that was packing audiences in decades before either of these was even thought about which will open as a musical later this month. Tom Chambers and Summer Strallen will step into the dancing shoes of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in Top Hat at The Aldwych Theatre. Strictly Come Dancing winner of 2008 Tom Chambers and Love Never Dies actress Summer Strallen take the lead roles as Jerry Travers and Dale Tremont. Directed by Matthew White and choreographed by Bill Deamer Top Hat has been on a mini tour since the middle of March in Woking and Bristol, and will preview in London from April 17.
Following a critically acclaimed run at the Swan Theatre in Stratford Upon Avon, the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Chief Associate Gregory Doran directs Written on the Heart, a powerful play about the creation of the King James Bible. Written by David Edgar, whose extensive work for the RSC includes Destiny, Pentecost and Nicholas Nickleby, this latest production marks the 400th anniversary of the publication of what’s the most widely published texts in the English language. Starring Bruce Alexander (George Abbot, Bishop of London) and Jamie Ballard (Young Lancelot Andrewes/Henry’s Chamberlain) Written on the Heart previews at the Duchess Theatre from April 19.
Eugene O’Neill’s semi auto-biographical classic Long Day’s Journey into the Night opens at the Apollo Theatre on 10 April. This multi-winning family drama, set in 1912, paints a powerful portrait of a family tormented by the past and paralysed by its collective demons. The drama between James Tyrone (David Suchet), Mary Tyrone (Laurie Metcalf) and their sons, Jamie (Trevor White) and Edmund (Kyle Soller) unfolds over a long scorcher of a day, and welcomes Suchet back to the West-End after a well-earned break.
The Rose Theatre in south west London revives Here later this month, starring Gavin and Stacey favourite Alison Steadman. Written by Michael Frayn this crazy and confined play will be directed by Lisa Spirling, whose recent directing credits include Hundreds and Thousands and Idiots and Ants. Here has a limited run from 27 April.