the West End has been sent reeling from a succession of early summer
closures (more here), theres
some good news, says our critic Mark Shenton, with not one but two
old 1930s theatres completely transformed for the new century...
the dazzlingly refurbished Prince of Wales (after a refit that's
cost over £7m), the theatre is a show in itself, replete with
its splendid new glass-fronted bars which are epitome of style and
one's too far from the stage, either: the new seating is positively
luxurious and the colour scheme of burnished reds is warm and inviting.
more importantly, Mamma Mia! (which has transferred here
after a run of five years at the Prince Edward) has also been sparklingly
recreated in its new environment, remaining as fresh and invigorating
as it's always been.
Abba's repertoire is arguably second only to the Beatles in terms
of output - and the affection in which it's held - this is far more
than just a catalogue compilation show.
Johnson's book is accomplished and witty as it skilfully enfolds
the group's most popular songs in a way that makes them comment
on the action, which revolves around a 20-year-old girl trying to
work out who her father is from perusing her unmarried mum's old
the best pop, Abba's songs have been re-generated as timeless. And,
as delivered with firebrand passion and attack by a cast led by
the vibrant, sassy Vivien Parry as mum Donna, Phyllida Lloyd's production
is packed with talent.
you for the music, goes one of Abba's songs - to which the only
possible response can be: thank you for this musical!
the Prince of Wales Theatre, Coventry Street W1
Tel: 0870 850 0393, booking to March 2005
currently less grateful for the makeover of the Whitehall Theatre
into the Trafalgar Studios; though it's good to see a West End theatre
being reinvented, I only wish the seating wasn't quite as cramped
as it is here.
the space allows for an intimacy and intensity that's perfect for
the claustrophobia of director Gregory Doran's take on Othello,
Shakespeare's galvanising tragedy of misplaced sexual jealousy.
this RSC production which has transferred from Stratford-upon-Avon,
there's lots of atmosphere, and what's dangerously like over-acting
in the two leads - Sello Maake Ka-Ncube as Othello and Antony Sher
the Trafalgar Studios, Whitehall Theatre, Whitehall SW1
Tel: 0870 609 1110, until 17 July
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