Winter’s over, and theater in London is youthful than springtime.
Audiences are falling wig-over-heels for a teenage drag queen; the brand new Bridge Theatre’s “Julius Caesar” has a mosh pit and “Les Misérables,” which has been working nonstop for 3 a long time, has discovered its interior youngster with actor Killian Donnelly — taking prime billing as its 33-year-old Jean Valjean. And sure, there’s extra. Right here’s what’s sizzling throughout the pond.
“All people’s Speaking About Jamie”
The Plot: 16-year-old Jamie New (John McCrea) lives in a working-class city in northern England, the place he desires of changing into a superb drag queen. His single mother (a superglue sturdy Josie Walker) helps his glamazonian wishes, nevertheless it’s as much as the daring and sassy stunner to beat a couple of bully classmates.
Why See It: “Jamie” is one of the best musical within the West Finish proper now — a “Billy Elliot” for 2018 however with out all of the weighty class struggles and Margaret Thatcher jabs. The rating by Dan Gillespie Sells and Tom MacRae, whereas not historically hummable, has a zippy and percussive RuPaul vibe. The present is joyous and, because it’s primarily based on a documentary, there’s actual guts behind the glitter — and McCrea is extraordinary. Broadway beckons.
“Fanny and Alexander”
The Plot: A theater household is ripped aside when the daddy dies, forcing his widow to marry a merciless bishop with the intention to preserve her youngsters clothed and fed. It’s advised from the angle of her kids, the title characters, who’re determined to flee the bishop’s clutches. Penelope Wilton (“Downton Abbey”) stars as a grand dame grandma.
Why See It: If you happen to assume an Excel spreadsheet sounds extra enjoyable than three and a half hours of Ingmar Bergman, you’d be proper 99 % of the time. However, on the Outdated Vic, director Max Webster has deftly jettisoned the Scandi stuffiness and created a whimsical night with scattered moments of magic. The kid actors who confidently lead the present give it honesty and coronary heart.
The Plot: True to the Mel Brooks movie it’s primarily based on, the grandson of the infamous scientist Victor Frankenstein travels to Transylvania after gramps dies, decided to listen to the desire and break up. Quickly after, the pragmatic mind physician creates his personal tap-dancing inexperienced monster.
Why See It: You would possibly bear in mind a large flop known as “Younger Frankenstein” that performed Broadway in 2007. In London, the identical inventive group that helmed that hulking beast — Brooks and his director, Susan Stroman — made their present come aliiiiiive by ditching some crummy songs (“Be part of the Household Enterprise”), nixing oversize surroundings and conserving laser-focused on the jokes. Now, the comedy performs like vaudeville.
The Plot: You discovered it in grade faculty. Just a few scrappy colonists break freed from mom England and type a brand new democratic experiment . . .
Why See It: At a prime ticket value of about $280, it’s a complete lot cheaper there than it’s on Broadway. And it’s thrilling to see how little the British audiences know concerning the American Revolution, and watch them being gained over by Lin-Manuel Miranda’s energizing musical, delivered by a superb (all-British) solid — a lot as we is likely to be tickled by an episode of “The Crown.”
The Plot: As warfare hero Julius Caesar turns into ever extra highly effective, a number of Romans — together with Caesar’s buddy, Brutus — take a stab at eradicating him from energy.
Why See It: Ben Whishaw, who makes the proper Brutus for a similar motive he makes a perfect Paddington Bear. Whishaw works by means of each choice logically and methodically, however selflessly, so Brutus and the play have by no means been clearer. Director Nicholas Hytner has shaved off the boring bits, so it runs a brisk intermissionless two hours. Now, the tragedy that so typically tortures audiences because of countless chasms of nonaction instantly has punch, relevance — and a pit during which some 200 theatergoers stand, surrounding the continuously shifting stage. Collectively, the group turns into the fickle Roman mob. If you happen to can keep in your ft for 2 hours — and are OK with getting particles in your jacket — skip the seats and stand. It’s an exhilarating expertise.
“The York Realist”
The Plot: Within the ’60s, close to the English county of Yorkshire, a rural farmer named George falls in love with John, the assistant director of a play he’s showing in. However as their relationship involves a boil, the bias of their time and the place forces the couple to maintain quiet. In contrast to a lot homosexual theater, Peter Gill’s attractive 2001 drama doesn’t really feel in any respect dated.
Why See It: The Donmar Warehouse’s modest dimension creates an intimacy that the majority off-Broadway homes would die for. You possibly can hear the great actors taking part in farmer George (Ben Batt) and metropolis boy John (Jonathan Bailey) respiration heavy — and you may really feel their longing, too. On the evening I went, the sexual pressure had the lads within the balcony virtually falling over the rail.