My beautiful daughter Clarissa was born on New Year’s Day, the first of 1990. My little bundle of mayhem came into my world when I was only 21 and she’s kept me on my toes ever since. She helped me breathe life into Diary of a Londoness, a project close to my heart and for which I am so thankful.
As we wave rather enthusiastically goodbye to 2016, let’s ring in the new year with a sparkle of hope and a sprinkling of kindness to one another. London’s cultural scene is hot to trot into 2017, and I can’t wait for it to come galloping around. Here are the hottest tickets for plays and exhibitions in London in 2017.
Just my Ticket
Angels in America
I can’t tell you how excited I am about the National Theatre’s production of Angels in America. The New York tale first came into my radar in 2003 when I watched the HBO series, directed by Mike Nichols and starring Al Pacino, Meryl Streep and Emma Thompson.
The play, written by Tony Kushner, is considered one of the most important pieces of the American stage: it’s an operatic tale of the AIDS crisis during the mid-1980s, seen through the eyes of a group of connected New York individuals. The play is in two parts, each lasting 3 hours and 30 minutes. Angels in America opens on 11th April with public online booking on Friday 20th January.
Staying with the National Theatre, we’re in for a musical treat this Autumn with its production of Follies by Stephen Sondheim and James Goldman. It’s directed by Dominic Cooke and stars Imelda Staunton as Sally Durant Plummer.
As the iconic Weismann Theatre is about to be demolished in 1971 New York, a group of beautiful chorus girls come to say their goodbyes to what was their musical home between the two world wars. It’s a nostalgic, bittersweet story which includes Sondheim greats such as “Losing My Mind” and “Could I Leave You?” Staunton left me spellbound after Gypsy in 2016, so I know I’m in for a doozie of an evening.
The tragic masterpiece, The Cardinal, opens at The Southwark Playhouse on the 26th April. Playwright James Shirley was born in London in 1596, and The Cardinal was one of the last plays staged in England before Oliver Cromwell’s ban on theatre in 1642.
The state of Navarre is in crisis. An unscrupulous Cardinal has the ear of the King and is hungry for power. The Duchess Rosaura longs to marry the Count D’Alvarez, but the Cardinal wants her for his brutish nephew. To tighten his grip on the Kingdom, the ruthless Cardinal will stop at nothing to secure the marriage. But in the Duchess it seems he has finally met his match…
Is there anyone other than Donald Trump who isn’t jumping up and down with excitement about the Broadway smash hit Hamilton’s arrival in London? The hip hop musical opens this October at the Victoria Palace after a whopping 30 million restoration program. Hamilton tells the story of Caribbean-born Alexander Hamilton, one of the founding fathers of America who travelled to New York and eventually became a key figure in drawing up the American constitution. Tickets go on sale on the 30th January. Hamilton The Musical
Obsessed with Jude
Based on John M Cain’s book The Postman Always Rings Twice and on Visconti’s film adaptation, the play is a story of passion and murder, with Law cast as the seductive, handsome Gino who plots the murder of his lover’s husband. Obsession will be directed by Ivo van Hove (A View from the Bridge, and Lazarus, David Bowie’s self-epitaph). Van Hove is directing a further two plays at The Barbican in 2017: Roman Tragedies and After the Rehearsal. Obsession opens on the 19th April.
The two stars of bel canto, Philippe Jaroussky and Cecilia Bartoli, share the stage again at The Wigmore Hall on the 24th June. I went to see Jaroussky in Lisbon’s Gulbenkian and at the Wigmore Hall in November. If you close your eyes, you can imagine Jaroussky as a modern-day Farinelli: he has the voice of an angel. I went to see the electrifying Cecila Bartoli at the Palais de Versailles’ Hall of Mirrors a few summer ago. We’re in for a fiery evening with these two! Booking opens on the 7th February
This has already caused some controversy, as the Shakespearian opera by Giuseppe Verdi stars white tenor Jonas Kaufmann in the title role of the jealousy-fuelled Moor who turns to murder. Opens on the 21st June. Bookings from 28th March.
For Peter Pans
The Magical Lantern Festival at Chiswick House is a must-see for children and adults alike. I dragged my husband and youngest to this last year on a wet and stormy evening, and it was worth every windswept moment. This year, the event also includes an outdoor skating rink, and there’s an “après-ski” Ice Bar in the walled garden when you feel the need to warm up your cockles.
A Balencing Act
The Spanish designer Balenciaga will have his first UK exhibition in 2017, marking the 100th anniversary of his fashion house. Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion will feature a collection of 100 garments and 20 hats together with sketches and photographs. From May 27th 2017 to February 18th 2018 V and A
It’s been 100 years since Britain has hosted a large exhibition of Anglo-American artist John Singer Sargent’s watercolours. We’re in for a visual treat, as the Dulwich Picture Gallery brings together 80 paintings from private and public collections from June 21st. The gallery, designed by architect Sir John Soane (a visit to his museum in Holborn is also a must) is the oldest public art gallery in England. Dulwich Picture Gallery
In the Pink
I went to see Pink Floyd in the Palais de Versailles in 1988, and as far as I know, it was the last gig ever held there after some of the palace’s windows shattered thanks to the force of the music! It was the most spectacular concert.
The V and A is hosting an immersive exhibition which will showcase their unique music and use of powerful imagery within the context of the psychedelic movement of the 1960s. The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains opens 13th May 2017.
Hung up on Hockney
I was disappointed by the Hockney exhibition at the Royal Academy in 2016, but I am looking forward to this one at the Tate Britain which will host a major retrospective of his paintings, drawings, prints, photography and videos. From the 9th February 2017 to the 29th May 2017.
Kew the Orchids
The orchids return to Kew in February 2017, this time inspired by the vibrant colours, culture and magnificent plant life of India. The festival will show how orchids are used in medicine and worship and will feature magnificent giant displays, including an Indian flag made from cut flowers. You can also catch some decorative rickshaws and films on display.
Do you have any recommendations for 2017 in London? I would love to hear of any in the comments below!
Happy New Year 2017! Bonne Année 2017! Feliz Año Nuevo 2017!