Arts Ahead 22-28 July

By Zoe Craig Last edited 129 months ago
Arts Ahead 22-28 July

There's plenty to entertain those of us in search of cultural enlightenment this week. London's arts scene is offering a really varied pick'n'mix bag of sticky sweet treats... Enjoy!

Happy Birthday West Side Story! This groundbreaking dance musical opens tonight at Sadlers' Wells, 50 finger-clicking years since it first appeared. Without Jerome Robbins' legendary choreography, Londonist can't help think everything from MJ's Thriller to Britney's school uniform would've been rather different.

Tomorrow night, you can take your pick from a couple of monkey-ridden shows.

Flying monkeys hit the Southbank Centre, as The Wizard of Oz starts previews on Wednesday. It's a star-studded affair: Sian Brooke is the little lost Dorothy, Adam Cooper (the grown-up male-swan Billy from the end of the Billy Elliot film) is the Tin Man, everyone's favourite 1980s Saturday night telly star, Gary Wilmot, plays the Cowardly Lion. Plus Roy Hudd, Julie Legrand, Susannah Forsyth and more.

Across the river at Covent Garden's Royal Opera House, there's a very different breed of monkey to be found from tomorrow. First seen at the inaugural Manchester International Festival last year, Damon Albarn, Jamie Hewlett and Chen Shi-Zheng's spectacular opera, Monkey: Journey to the West gets its first London airing. Be quick; it's all over by Saturday.

You've got more time to check out the British Museum's latest blockbuster. Hadrian: Empire and Conflict opens Thursday, and runs until October. There's been plenty of hype about this exhibition on Rome's "most enigmatic" emperor: y'see, ruthless military leader plus gay lover equals enigma, doncha know. Londonist is mainly impressed with his hairy legacy. Hadrian was the first Roman Emperor to be portrayed with a beard: the fashion caught on, and continued for a century and a half, pub quiz fans...

Last Chance!

The National Theatre of Scotland's hit show Black Watch ends is provocative look at life on the front line in Iraq at the Barbican on Saturday. Hackney Spice Festival, Hackney's arts showcase closes on Sunday.

Booking Ahead:

Booking opens for the National Theatre's forthcoming season on Wednesday this week. From the intriguing-sounding in-i, with Akhram Khan and Juliette Binoche (you heard it here first) to The Walworth Farce, and DV8's physical theatre show To Be Straight With You, to Ralph Fiennes looking like Voldemort in the Oedipus posters, it all looks rather exciting. Some of these shows have sell-out written all over them, so get in there early. Unless you're a member, and have already done so. In which case, we jealously salute your smug organisational skills, and request that you move on.

Picture shows Dorothy's shoes from The Wizard of Oz: image copyright Darren Hopes, CIA

Last Updated 22 July 2008