Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s smash-hit Into The Woods opened on Broadway in 1987, winning three Tony Awards, before being reimagined in hundreds of different ways. It was even developed into a feature-film by Walt Disney Pictures in 2014 and until Friday night’s opening of Into The Woods at The Cockpit, the film is my only real experience of the production. Teaming up with Trilby Productions, All Star Productions has delivered the London fringe theatre scene with a 21st century imagination of the Sondheim classic.
Immersive theatre doesn’t sit well with me a lot of the time. Whilst I always want to be as involved in the show as I can be, I want the fourth wall to stay very firmly up in a sense that I don’t want to be part of the production. Apart from when I got to sing ‘Ride Sally Ride’ into the microphone that Killian Donnelly thrust in my face during Mustang Sally at the end of The Commitments. I was very much okay when it came to being that close to the newly announced touring Jean Valjean in Les Mis. It put me off seeing Trainspotting as I’d heard bizarre things about it, but there was something about Julius Caesar at the Bridge Theatre that intrigued me. Immersive Shakespeare seemed like something I had to learn a little more about.
Based on the 1963 hit film of the same name, Summer Holiday: The Musical is the ‘feel-good musical of the year’. 4 young London Transport mechanics head on a trip across the continent by London bus in search of a brilliant summer, and manage to pick up some strays along the way. Press night at Milton Keynes Theatre (where I most recently saw The Play That Goes Wrong) was a little too grey weather-wise for the audience to get into too much of a summery mood, but the story inside certainly changed that.
When I heard that Chess was making its way to the West End for the first time in over 30 years, I knew I had to be part of this special production. But the English National Opera is notorious for high price tickets (I mean, there are a lot of people to pay at the London Coliseum so it makes sense but I’m queen of the cheap seats usual). Thanks to Today Tix I was able to get a ticket in the dress circle for just £25, making it that little bit more affordable.
I don’t think I’ve ever had such a terrible train journey to London as I did when I went to watch H.R.Haitch at the Union Theatre, but my goodness it was the breath of fresh air that I needed. And it’s also what London needs in such a turbulent political landscape.
I’d been interested in seeing The Ferryman since reading rave reviews in the autumn after its transfer from the Royal Court. 3 West End extensions and 3 Olivier Awards, including Best New Play, later I had to get around to seeing it before it closed (in just five days time).