Arts Ahead: What’s On in London in 2012

By Zoe Craig Last edited 140 months ago
Arts Ahead: What’s On in London in 2012

Each Tuesday, we bring you an update of what’s happening in the next seven days on London’s cultural calendar.

With very little in the way of new openings in London this week, we’ve decided to look further ahead so you can plan your arty choices for the next 12 months. Here’s what’s new in 2012.

For 2012, the West End goes retro. (Perhaps in response to Olympic paranoia?) If you’re a fan of new musicals, there’s little confirmed out there to fit the bill. Instead, you can see Singin’ In The Rain in February (with Adam Cooper and Scarlett Strallen), Sweeney Todd with (a barely recognisable) Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton from March, Top Hat from April (with Tom Chambers, and the other Strallen), and a musical version of The Wind In The Willows by Julian "Downton Abbey" Fellowes coming later in the year.

Unconfirmed new musicals for 2012 include Exposure (which seems to be about Getty Images), Viva Forever (the Spice Girls musical, written by Jennifer Saunders), The Bodyguard (with Whitney Houston’s back catalogue cleared for the show), and Bridget Jones’ Diary The Musical, starring Sheridan Smith as the 90s cliché herself.

Opera fans should look out for Einstein on the Beach at the Barbican in May, Damon Albarn’s Dr Dee at the London Coliseum from June, and the Cape Town Opera’s reworking of Porgy and Bess, also at the London Coliseum, from July.

For the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee year, there’s a distinctly royal theme to some of the top plays opening this year. The Madness of George III returns to the West End, with David Haig wearing the crown. The King’s Speech (the original play, written before the hit film) will be on tour for a bit (look out Richmond Theatre!), before transferring, we’ll bet our bottom dollar, to the West End. And there are two starry King Lears heading our way: one with Jonathan Pryce at the Almeida in August, and another with Simon Russell Beale at the National. You might also look out for Mark Rylance at the Globe, Zach Braff’s West End debut and the ever-charming David Suchet in Long Day’s Journey Into Night at the Apollo from April. Oh, and there’s plenty happening as part of the World Shakespeare Festival too…

As well as Big Dance happening again this year, dance fans should look out for The Pet Shop Boy’s dance show, The Most Incredible Thing returning to Sadler’s Wells from March; Tanztheater Wuppertal’s Pina Bausch season at the Barbican and Sadler’s Wells from June; and Metamorphosis: Titian 2012 at the Royal Opera House in July.

Many of the year's leading classical music events are yet to be announced – the Proms programme for example – but there are plenty of exciting things happening this spring. The Roundhouse hosts the second edition of its Reverb festival in late Feb/early March, which is dedicated to the cutting edge side of classical music in the capital. Over at the Royal Festival Hall, two dynamic orchestras return to Southbank Centre: European chamber orchestra Spira mirabilis (25 & 26 May ) and the world famous Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela and Gustavo Dudamel (23 & 26 June ). Meanwhile, over in East London, innovative contemporary string group the Kronos Quartet performs a residency at the Barbican Centre, Hackney Empire and Wilton's Music Hall in January. And all this doesn't include the music element of the Cultural Olympiad, which we'll tell you more about in good time.

Exciting art exhibitions for the year include David Hockney at the Royal Academy later this month, Lucian Freud at the National Portrait Gallery and Picasso at Tate Britain (both in Feburary), Damien Hirst’s big blockbuster at Tate Modern from April, and (whisper it) another Leonardo da Vinci exhibition at the Queen’s Gallery from May. Plus, there’s all the buzz surrounding Yoko Ono at the Serpentine, the Tate Modern’s new Oil Tanks, and the Whitechapel Gallery’s new frieze by Rachel Whiteread.

Anyone would think 2012 was going to be something special for this city…

Last Updated 03 January 2012