In the final fortnight of the Broadway season for productions eligible for consideration this year’s Tony Awards, some ten shows opened back-to-back, representing over a quarter of the shows that opened across the entire year. But that’s very much an anomaly, created by the rush to meet the Tony deadline.
By contrast, this and next week are just business-as-usual in London, on the fringe and in the regions, where — according to the Theatre Record index of future shows — in the two week period between May 21 and June 3, there are some 32 new shows in London alone (and that’s excluding one-off’s like the Globe to Globe festival of international Shakespeares), with another 11 shows listed for the regions, excluding festivals.
So, across just 14 nights (including weekends), there’s been some 42 shows to choose from. That’s beyond even me, but I’m managing to see seven London openings and one each in Sheffield, Chichester and Brighton (the latter being a one-off Festival show), and two in Northampton, as well as an opera at English National Opera and one of the Globe to Globe Shakespeare’s, The Winter’s Tale in Yoruba tomorrow afternoon, so I’m not doing too badly!
And that’s without also hosting a show myself — the second in my These Are A Few of My Favourite Songs interviews at Soho Theatre, where my guest this Sunday is Jeremy Sams, with some of his song choices being sung by the glorious Emma Williams. Earlier that afternoon, too, there’s the annual Stephen Sondheim Student Performer of the Year and Stiles and Drewe Best New Song of 2012 competition at the Queen’s Theatre, that I’m also going to sneak into.
I’m also taking a night out of the reviewing rat race to pay a visit to the South Bank’s Udderbelly on Tuesday night to see one of my favourite discoveries of last year’s Edinburgh Fringe — Chris Cox in his show Fatal Distraction, who bills himself as a “mind reader who can’t read minds” (and whose Twitter handle is @BigCox). He’s just back in London from a tour of New Zealand, and I can’t wait to see his amazing act again. So I’ll have attended (or been part of) some 18 separate theatre events in a total of 13 days, before I’m due to board a plane to New York on the 13th of those days (after a matinee at the National first!) to do a pre-Tony’s catch-up there.
It’s all requiring a major juggling act of the diary, but at least I’m far from alone. On Monday, for instance, I went in a night early to Sheffield to see a new production of Pinter’s Betrayal, and found I was one of five print critics (including the Telegraph, Times, Sunday Times and Mail on Sunday) as well as the BBC’s Mark Lawson, so that last night I could be at the opening of Chariots of Fire at Hampstead Theatre. But last night there was also the Landor’s transfer of The Mystery of Edwin Drood to the Arts.
And tonight the Royal Court’s production of Laura Wade’s Posh is revived at the Duke of York’s, clashing with both the arrival of Peter Brook’s The Suit at the Young Vic as part of World Stages London and Steven Berkoff’s new play Six Actors in Search of a Director at the Charing Cross Theatre. I’ve found a slot for The Suit next Wednesday afternoon, but the Berkoff may have to go unseen by me.
Tomorrow, again, there are multiple clashes: Children’s Children at the Almeida, Sadie Frost’s latest Touched Like a Virgin at Soho and Michael Wynne’s Canvas at Chichester’s Minerva. I’m going to the Almeida tomorrow and on Saturday afternoon will go to Chichester en route to Brighton, where I’m seeing Neil Bartlett’s one-off show for the Brighton Festival, but I’ll have to skip Frost’s show entirely (though weirdly, I will have been in her dressing room, at any rate, since her show at Soho Theatre is in the same downstairs room as mine on Sunday!).
Rolling ahead to Friday, yet another World Stages London production The Beloved opens at the Bush, but I’ll be at ENO’s Caligula, directed by Benedict Andrews, the hotshot Australian director whose exhilarating production of Botho Strauss’s Big and Small was such a sensation recently at the Barbican with Cate Blanchett.
Ahead to next week’s openings, and I only pray that the current good weather holds with the opening of the Regent’s Park season with Ragtime. I usually don’t care about the weather — it is what it is, and we can’t change it — but knowing what it might be at least allows us to prepare. I’ve twice now been caught out by how chilly the night can turn there, and have two blankets bought at the theatre in the boot of my car to prove it!
And from Regent’s Park to Kensington Gardens, the next night takes critics to the opening of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe there, but at least it is in a tented pavilion, not the gardens themselves. The same night Ninagawa returns to the Barbican with Cymbeline. But I’ll be in Jubilee Gardens on the South Bank myself, seeing the aforementioned Chris Cox in the Udderbelly tent, a venue so familiar from its annual residency in Edinburgh’s Bristo Square: a portable pop-up venue that carries its identity (and udders) everywhere it goes.
Today week is the opening of Antigone at the National with Christopher Ecceleston, and tomorrow week is another World Stages London show, Wah Wah Girls at the Peacock, clashing with a double bill of another Greek tragedy The Bacchae and Lorca’s Spanish one Blood Wedding in Northampton, all of which (coupled with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe that I will have missed on Tuesday) causes me to go out-of-synch for a few days.
On Wednesday I’ve requested to go in early for Wah Wah Girls so I can go to Northampton on Thursday, then on Friday I catch up with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and on Saturday afternoon I catch up with Antigone, before heading off to New York that evening. I will miss the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations here, of course, but its the week of the Drama Desk and the Tony Awards in New York, so there should be lots of theatrical royalty around, not to mention theatre queens!