Kit Harington takes the plunge in the intoxicating Doctor Faustus, which is now previewing at the Duke of York’s Theatre in the West End.
Harington plays Jon Snow, Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, in TV’s Game Of Thrones, and the last time we saw him, his fate was in the balance (the new series starts on Monday night).
On stage, in the lead role of Faustus, he’s in trouble, too. After making a pact with the Devil, he is thrust into a celebrity nightmare world.
Kit Harington takes the plunge in the intoxicating Doctor Faustus, which is now previewing at the Duke of York’s Theatre in the West End
All this is a doddle, by Game Of Thrones punishment standards, but it’s still not at all nice.
Working with director Jamie Lloyd, Harington brilliantly subverts his own fame to explore the dark side of showbusiness.
He gets plenty of assistance in his slide towards the gutter from Jenna Russell’s Mephistopheles.
By the way, don’t miss Russell singing a few devilish tunes in the interval.
Harington plays Jon Snow, Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, in TV’s Game Of Thrones, and the last time we saw him, his fate was in the balance
Ballet star Leanne takes a musical leap
Leanne Cope, a former ballerina with the Royal Ballet, will lead the stage version of classic MGM musical An American In Paris into the West End.
Ms Cope has been performing the part of Lise Dassin (which Leslie Caron played opposite Gene Kelly in the 1951 movie) on stage since director and choreographer Christopher Wheeldon launched the show at the Theatre du Chatelet in the French capital more than two years ago.
The company moved to Broadway last April and on March 4 next year, An American In Paris will begin performances at the Dominion Theatre, with fabulous sets by Bob Crowley.
Leanne Cope, a former ballerina with the Royal Ballet, will lead the stage version of classic MGM musical An American In Paris into the West End
As Lise Dassin, a dancer forced to work in a store in post-war Paris, Ms Cope gets to dance, act and sing. Before this, her singing was mainly limited to the shower.
Ms Cope, who studied ballet at the Dorothy Coleborne School of Dance in Bath and the Royal Ballet School at White Lodge in Richmond Park, was in her 12th year with the Royal Ballet in Covent Garden when Wheeldon sent her a Facebook message, asking if she could sing.
‘Being a ballet dancer, you’re silent. You don’t ever speak; you don’t make a noise on stage. And to suddenly be asked to speak and sing is very scary,’ she said, while in the background I could hear Pippin, her miniature dachshund, making quite a racket, unlike her mistress.
Ms Cope and her leading man, U.S. ballet star Robert Fairchild, had lessons with vocal coach Joan Lader. And it clicked — when I saw her as Lise in New York I was struck by her exhilarating performance and magnetic stage presence.
She took tea with Caron, now in her 80s, who was incredibly gracious about the role. ‘She never put any pressure on me,’ Ms Cope told me. ‘I can imagine there’s always going to be a comparison, but she said simply: “She is yours.” ’
The show is darker than the movie, and the main characters are more complex. ‘The film was almost propaganda at how wonderful everything was, but our story delves through the more real version of what people went through in the war.’
Ms Cope revealed that the chic graduated bob she sports in the musical is a wig, though I would never have guessed. She said she and wig number one parted company last July.
‘Eight shows a week is hard on a wig — as well as hard on a person. It’s a beautifully made wig, and there’s a fringe. I felt I needed that to cover my forehead, which shows I am considerably older than 19,’ she added, wryly.
So would she consider herself a triple threat — all dancing, all acting, all singing?! ‘Everyone has their strengths, and obviously dancing is mine, but I do admire those who sing and dance,’ she said.
Her final performance on Broadway is on October 2 and then she will head for London to prepare for her professional singing debut on the West End stage.
The Olympic busker who plays it for laughs
Be careful when you’re around George Maguire’s Macheath: he has a very sharp tongue.
The Olivier-award winning actor (honoured for the Kinks musical Sunny Afternoon) plays this dastardly, dashing denizen of London’s underworld in The Buskers Opera, Dougal Irvine’s modern-day adaptation of John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera, with the action moved to the 2012 London Olympics. ‘George’s character is like a political assassin. He’s very quick-witted — and his tongue is his sword,’ Irvine told me.
Olivier-award winning actor George Maguire plays Macheath in The Buskers Opera, Dougal Irvine’s modern-day adaptation of John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera
I’d just watched director Lotte Wakeham work with a crack ensemble including Lauren Samuels (pictured with Maguire) as Polly Peachum and Simon Dylan-Kane as Mayor Lockitt (who resembled a certain cycling London politician whose name eludes me). David Burt plays media tycoon Jeremiah Peachum, with other roles taken by Natasha Cottriall, John McCrea, Maimuna Memon, Giovanna Ryan and Ishmael Gander. Maguire said he was drawn to the social and political nature of the work.
‘It’s looking back at the legacy of the Olympics, where so much was promised — but we’ve still got a lot of homeless people.’
Irving’s text sounded dangerously funny as I watched a rehearsal at the Park Theatre in North London where the show will start performances next Thursday.
Ms Samuels said there were belly laughs during the first read-through, partly because of the fun that can be had with the rhyming text, none of which can be repeated here.
‘It [the rhyming] either helps you learn it easier, or you mess it up,’ she said. ‘You have to study it musically.’
The play will have a limited run at the Park Theatre, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it transfers to the West End — if there are any available theatres.
Watch out for…
Mark Gatiss and Ian Hallard, who have been cast together in a revival of Mart Crowley’s late Sixties play The Boys In The Band. The pioneering work, which explored relationships between men gathered for a birthday party, opened in New York during social and sexual upheaval and became a touchstone gay drama.
Gatiss (pictured, right) and Hallard (left), who are married in real life, have been cast by director Adam Penford for the production, which will run for a short season at the Park Theatre from September 28. The last performance will be a matinee on October 30.
Joseph Fiennes, who will play the lead in Terence Rattigan’s drama Ross, about Lawrence of Arabia. He will be joined by Paul Freeman, portraying General Allenby; Peter Polycarpou, as Sheik Auda Ibu Tayi; and Michael Feast, as a Turkish governor.
Adrian Noble will direct the play, which will run at Chichester Festival Theatre from June 3.
Phil Davis, who will join David Moorst (winner of last year’s Evening Standard best newcomer award) and Tom Gill in Mark Hayhurst’s new play First Light. Directed by Jonathan Munby, it is set against the backdrop of the Battle of the Somme.
First Light will run in Chichester’s Minerva Theatre from June 10.