‘Hamilton’ Cancels 2 Weeks of Previews + More London News

Photo Source: YouTube

Welcome to our roundup of the most important news for actors across theatre, TV, and film.

‘Hamilton’ previews cancelled.
The London production of “Hamilton” has cancelled the first two weeks of previews following delays in the restoration of Victoria Palace Theatre.

The listed building is undergoing a multi-million-pound expansion under the leadership of owner and producer Cameron Mackintosh. In a statement, he said, ‘The time constraints to access the land around the theatre to enable the rebuild and getting the show open to the public by the end of this year have been equally tight, not helped by the theatre being built over the huge King’s Scholars’ Pond Sewer, an active 200-year-old brick tunnel.

‘Added to the usual unhelpful problems that always happen when doing up old buildings, this has put pressure on the time needed to commission the entirely new services that have been installed at the theatre and obtain the necessary licences to reopen to the public. We have therefore needed to take a pragmatic decision to reschedule the previews of “Hamilton’… I am, of course, sorry to amend the performance schedule but undertaking a private rebuilding project on this scale in Central London has no precedent.’

Previews will begin on Dec. 6, 2017 instead of the Nov. 21, with the production officially opening on Dec. 21.

Critic-free ‘Hamlet’ not so critic-free.
Kenneth Branagh’s supposedly critic-free charity production of ‘Hamlet’ at RADA’s Vanbrugh Theatre has, predictably, been reviewed. The Stage’s Natasha Tripney was one of the lucky few who bought tickets by ballot for the show, though I’m guessing someone at the box office will be getting a telling off for not spotting the name. She said that star Tom Hiddleston was ‘decent enough’ but needed other people to bounce off and that some scenes were ‘a bit dull’. Read the full review here.

Angels to America.
The National Theatre production of Tony Kushner’s era defining play ‘Angels in America’, which closed at the Lyttleton in August, is now set to reopen on Broadway next year. Transferring to the Neil Simon theatre in New York, the cast will include leads Nathan Lane, Andrew Garfield, Denise Gough, and James McArdle. Russell Tovey is the only lead cast member not to reprise their role. Supporting cast members Susan Brown, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, and Amanda Lawrence are confirmed for the transfer but further casting is yet to be announced.

25 years after the original Broadway run, the two-part play was revived by the NT as part of the anniversary of 50 years since the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality. Scottish actor James McArdle featured in both ‘Angels in America’ and the BBC’s ‘Man in an Orange Shirt’, has been commissioned to head up their Gay Britannia season of drama and documentaries.

Looking at the stars.
Casting has been announced for Kathy Burke’s upcoming production of ‘Lady Lady Windermere’s Fan’ by Oscar Wilde. Actor, writer and comedian Jennifer Saunders is returning to the West End for the first time in two decades to star in the production opposite Samantha Spiro and Kevin Bishop. Saunders, who plays the Duchess of Berwick, previously worked with Burke on the TV series ‘Absolutely Fabulous’ and was last in the West End as a writer, having scripted the Spice Girls musical ‘Viva Forever’. Spiro will play Erlynne and Bishop will play Lord Darlington.

The production is part of ex-Globe artistic director Dominic Dromgoole’s season of Oscar Wilde plays at the Vaudeville Theatre which starts with ‘A Woman of No Importance’ in October. ‘Lady Windermere’s Fan’ runs at the Vaudeville Theatre from Jan. 22 until April 7. Further casting for the season is to be announced shortly.

True stories coming to the screen.
With the popularity of ‘The Crown’, it was only a matter of time before Netflix built another vehicle for biopic drama with an all star cast. This time around it’s ‘The Pope’. Stars tipped to be at the helm are Jonathan Pryce as Pope Francis and Anthony Hopkins as his successor, Pope Benedict. ‘Theory of Everything’ writer Anthony McCarten is to script the streaming service’s feature film about Francis’ resignation and the supposed reluctance of Jorge Mario Bergoglio (who became Francis) to take the role.

In another film based on a true story, Kenneth Branagh is set to play the father of Anne Frank in ‘The Keeper of the Diary’. The Fox Searchlight drama follows Otto Frank’s struggle to find a publisher for his daughter’s diary in the years after the Second World War. He eventually found help in the unlikely form of a young woman named Barbara Zimmerman. Although only just starting her career in publishing, her perseverance led to one of the most enduring documents of the Holocaust being shown to the world. Zimmerman went on to become the founder of the New York Review of Books.

Branagh is set to direct and also co-produce the feature which is moving from development to production next year.

Playwright Ann Jellicoe passes away.
If there is one of Britain’s forgotten playwrights who deserved both more recognition and more productions, it was Ann Jellicoe. Experimental, full of dangerous and exciting ideas, and hilarious with it, her plays were at the head of a wave of new theatre in the 1960s. She invented traverse staging, founded The Cockpit in Marylebone, and championed community theatre three decades before it found a place The Old Vic and National Theatre. Best known for her award-winning ‘The Sport of My Mad Mother’ and ‘The Knack’, Ann Jellicoe died aged 90.

That’s all for this week. We’ll be back next week with nuggets of news from across stage and screen.

Check out Backstage’s London audition listings!