Our roundup of the hottest tickets on the West End Stage and the best VIP packages
Edited by: Millie Milliken Photos: Manuel Harlan, Johan Persson, Philip Vile
After a recent viewing of the original 1951 film of An American in Paris, it was hard for us to imagine anyone other than Gene Kelly in the role of ex-GI Jerry Mulligan. But then we saw Robert Fairchild in this new West End supershow. Even in the ensemble numbers, it’s hard to take your eyes off the New York City Ballet principal dancer, who juggles punchlines with pirouettes quite brilliantly.
The story follows Mulligan as he decides to stay in Paris after WWII to pursue his dream of becoming an artist. A chance encounter with pretty French dancer Lise (Leanne Cope) leads to a love triangle with duty and passion tugging in different directions.
The show itself looks like a painting. The streets of Paris are unveiled to the audience with figures and monuments appearing on set as if being drawn in real time. The Gershwin score conjures the romance of the original film – classic numbers like ‘I Got Rhythm’ have the audience humming along happily.
The dancing is impeccable. High-octane ensemble numbers are matched with balletic duets that show off Cope’s skills to the max. A prop-led routine starring Fairchild brings the house down. But the main spectacle is Paris. The city’s romance is wonderfully evoked, a feeling heightened by the memory of recent events (the shout of ‘liberté, égalité, fraternité’ really resonates).
It’s a production you’ll fall in love with.
Hospitality Encore Hospitality
’s VIP Package starts at £235pp and includes champagne, premium tickets and a private suite.
This 50th anniversary revival of the play that made Tom Stoppard’s name stars Daniel Radcliffe as Rosencrantz, but although there are plenty of Harry Potter fans in the audience, the drama couldn’t be further from the world of Hogwarts. Set behind the scenes of a production of Hamlet, the eponymous characters ponder the meaning of life in the moments they’re off stage. They make an intriguing pair, especially when their navel-gazing is placed alongside the backdrop of the Bard’s tragedy.
Until 29 April
Hospitality Old Vic’s café-bar, Penny, can be booked for semi-private drinks and canapé receptions. The theatre is also partnered with a number of restaurants that can cater for pre-theatre drinks and dinners.
Harold Pinter Theatre
We thought we were prepared for the unremitting vehemence of Edward Albee’s attack on the idea of the idyllic American family. But in the hands of Imelda Staunton and Conleth Hill, this ferocious battle between a husband and wife is more heartbreakingly ruthless – and funny – than we could ever have imagined. Staunton is faultless, but it was Game of Thrones’ Conleth Hill, as the publicly lambasted George, who deserved most of the night’s standing ovation. Don’t miss it.
Until 27 May
Hospitality Encore Hospitality’s VIP packages include premium seats, champagne and a dedicated area in the lounge for £170pp. Dining packages are also available.
The Shepherd's Bush playhouse has reopened after a year-long redevelopment costing £4.3m. Artistic director Madani Younis says he aims to ‘provoke culture’ in the rejuvenated space, which sees the venue’s capacity rise by 20%, with two auditoriums able to hold 250 theatre-goers. The newest area for entertaining is the Library Bar – its name referencing the building’s former life as a Victorian library. The Reading Room is the spot for more secluded pre- and post-show hosting, while summer soirées can be held on the Garden Terrace.
Eating ain’t cheating when it comes to a night in the stalls. We’ve picked our favourite pre-theatre menus to keep your group sated
Found in Marylebone's arty Arch London, this is a smart hotel restaurant away from the Oxford Street crowds. The new pre-theatre menu changes fortnightly. On our visit we liked the smoked-haddock croquettes, roasted guinea fowl and lemon posset. Don’t miss the new by-the-glass wine list either.
£19 for two courses or £21 for three courses, served until 7pm
Tucked down an alleyway on Maiden Lane, just off the Strand, this cosy Spanish restaurant turns out small dishes with substance. On the menu are the likes of salmon rulada, fried oysters, braised pork belly and dulce de leche mousse, and the price includes a glass of cava per person.
£31pp, served at 4-6pm and 10-11.30pm
Angela Hartnett presides over this popular, modern Italian eatery in the depths of Theatreland. Unsurprisingly, the likes of bruschetta, rigatoni carbonara, and semifreddo feature on the menu, all of which can be enjoyed by groups under the wooden beamed ceilings.
£16.50pp, served at 12-7pm and 10-1am
OUR TOP HOSPITALITY PICKS
‘All singing, all dancing’ doesn’t quite do justice to the level of tap dancing the chorus delighted us with in this Broadway hit. The Luxury Experience includes a premium seat, champagne and canapés from £180pp.
Until 22 Jul, Theatre Royal Drury Lane
This Is England’'s Jack Thorne has brought his talents to Georg Buchner’s play, which will see Star Wars’ John Boyega in the lead role. Book on-site restaurant Penny for pre-theatre dining and drinks.
Until 24 Jun, Old Vic
On the Town
Leonard Bernstein’s musical – made famous by Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly – will be choreographed by Olivier Award-winner Drew McOnie. Luxury hampers start at £89.
Until 1 Jul, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?
Starring Sophie Okonedo and Damian Lewis, this production will also have a score by PJ Harvey. Make sure to book the 16-capacity Oscar Wilde Room.
Until 16 Jun, Theatre Royal Haymarket
Angels in America
Andrew Garfield, Nathan Lane and Denise Gough will be centre stage in this ambitious two-parter. It’s already sold out, so hospitality will be your only way in. Quick!
Until 19 Aug, National Theatre
+ Ian McKellen will be at the Park Theatre in July with Shakespeare, Tolkien, Others & You, bringing some of his most iconic characters with him.
+ Despite being one of the West End’s longest-running musicals, The Lion King has extended booking until 1 October 2017.
+ Miranda Hart will make her West End debut this summer in the musical Annie, playing the villainous Miss Hannigan from June until September.
+ Sam Mendes’s The Ferryman – sold out for its Royal Court Theatre run – will transfer to the Gielgud Theatre in June.
Stage fave Anne-Marie Duff (above) will take the lead in Common
, a new play set during the Industrial Revolution. It opens on 30 May at the National Theatre
+ Comedian Rufus Hound will be Mr Toad in Julian Fellowes’s The Wind in the Willows. The new musical will play at the London Palladium from June.
+ Based on a Molière comedy, Don Juan in Soho will see David Tennant play the infamous libertine. Booking until 10 June at Wyndham's Theatre.
+ Big-note belters Katherine Jenkins and Alfie Boe will appear at the London Coliseum in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical Carousel until 13 May.
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This article was first published in Squaremeal Venues + Events, Spring/Summer 2017