Some time ago now, I took part in a ‘hard hat’ tour of the ongoing construction site that is to become the St James Theatre in Victoria, the first purpose-built theatre to appear in London for many years. The theatre has now confirmed the performances for its first season, which starts with a gala opening on 18 September.
- The first play of the season, from 18 September to 27 October, will be ‘Bully Boy’, written by Sandi Toksvig and directed by David Gilmore. Dealing with the investigation of a self-styled ‘Bully Boy’ unit in the British Army, the play looks at the issues around military occupation and its psychological effects on soldiers who are trained for warfare. Leading the cast of ‘Bully Boy’ will be Anthony Andrews, who has been seen most recently onscreen as Prime Minister Baldwin in ‘The Kings Speech’, taking the part of chief investigator Major Oscar Hadley.
- ‘Daddy Long Legs’ will play from 31 October to 8 December – a musical romance, this is a co-production between St James Theatre Productions and the Rubicon Theatre Company. Directed by John Caird, with music and lyrics by Paul Gordon, ‘Daddy Long Legs’ is an adaptation of the novel by Jean Webster. Set in New England at the turn of the 20th century, this is an account of the experiences of an orphan as she develops into a young woman, and is told through the medium of letters sent to the mysterious benefactor who pays for her education. Currently on tour in the US, Megan McGinnis will be coming to London to reprise her role as the young Jerusha Abbot from the award-winning Californian production of ‘Daddy Long Legs’.
- In December it’s panto time at the St James Theatre with a production of ‘Cinderella’. Directed by Sally Cookson with design by Katie Sykes and music by Benji Bower, this is the production that wowed audiences at the Tobacco Factory in Bristol last year (and which got a five out of five rating at Whats On Stage – quite a rarity for a crowd-pleasing Christmas favourite). Taking the story in a new direction, Cinderella greaves her dead mother and comes under the influence of strange woodland birds – I can’t wait to see what they’ve done with this classic tale.
- The first production for 2013 will be ‘Our Country’s Good’. Based on Thomas Keneally’s ‘The Playmaker’ and directed by Max Stafford-Clark, Wertenbaker’s play within a play features trapped convicts on a boat heading towards Australia who form an unlikely theatre company. ‘Our Country’s Good’ has won three Olivier awards in previous productions, so all eyes will be on the St James Theatre in January to see what they and ‘Out of Joint’ and the Octagon Theatre Bolton’s companies can make of it.
Tickets for the upcoming season are available on the St James Theatre website now. As I said a little earlier in the year this theatre promises to be an amazing space to watch performances, and hopefully I’ll be reviewing the new shows on the Londoneer as they appear.