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 Monday, 30 December, 2002, 11:41 GMT
Curtain down on theatre's 2002
Madonna in Up For Grabs
Madonna's West End debut in May received mixed reviews
The British theatre world managed in 2002 to fight off fears of a big downturn in business after 11 September - although Broadway continued to suffer.


It was announced that London's longest-running musical, Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats, was bowing out after 21 years - three days after the curtain fell on his Starlight Express.

Lord Attenborough's son Michael became head of London's Almeida theatre, replacing Jonathan Kent and Ian McDiarmid.

Meanwhile Michael Grandage took over from Sam Mendes as artistic director at the capital's Donmar Warehouse.


My Fair Lady swept the boards at the Laurence Olivier awards.

Martine McCutcheon in My Fair Lady
My Fair Lady swept the Oliviers
Its star Martine McCutcheon was named best actress in a musical; the show won the prize for outstanding musical production; and Michael Bourne was named best choreographer.


As Kenneth Branagh prepared his Richard III for Sheffield, Jude Law revealed he would play Doctor Faustus at the Young Vic in London.

Robert De Niro made a rare public appearance at a London press conference to launch his £7.5m show We Will Rock You, written by Ben Elton and based on the music of Queen.


Director Adrian Noble's stage version of the children's classic musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang opened to rave reviews in the West End.

Sean Bean in Macbeth
Sean Bean starred in a seductive Macbeth
A week later Noble, the Royal Shakespeare Company's controversial artistic director, announced he was stepping down "to seek new artistic challenges".

Noble had faced opposition to plans to knock down the RSC's Stratford theatre and replace it with a £100m "Shakespeare village".

Hollywood stars Matt Damon, Summer Phoenix and Casey Affleck began a run in This Is Our Youth at London's Garrick Theatre.

Denise Van Outen made a successful return to the West End production of Chicago after her stint on Broadway playing femme fatale Roxie Hart.

Adrian Noble
Noble quit the RSC amid controversy

Broadway, still reeling from the effects of 11 September, announced the end of a 10-year run of bumper ticket sales. Receipts were more than $20m down on its previous season.

The fashion for US movie stars to "slum it" in the West End continued with Madonna in Up For Grabs at the Wyndhams Theatre and Gwyneth Paltrow in Proof at the Donmar Warehouse.

Madonna had mixed reviews, though the critics were generally a little kinder to Paltrow.

The same could not be said for We Will Rock You which was mauled by critics on its opening night at the Dominion Theatre.


Gwyneth Paltrow in Proof
Gwyenth Paltrow pleased the critics in Proof
A satirical play about toilets called Urinetown won a prize at Broadway's annual Tony awards - along with a jazz age musical and the story of one man's love affair with a goat.

Andrew Lloyd Webber received a standing ovation at the première of his new Bollywood-inspired musical, Bombay Dreams, at London's Victoria Apollo theatre.


Michael Boyd was unveiled as Adrian Noble's replacement as artistic director of the RSC.


Woody Harrelson and Kyle MacLachlan received a standing ovation for their West End debuts in On an Average Day at the Comedy Theatre.


Theatre director Joan Littlewood, who was credited with breaking the mould in British stage acting, died aged 87.

Gillian Anderson
Anderson's acting was not appreciated by all critics
Harlem's world-famous Apollo Theatre provided the backdrop for the musical 125th Street, making its West End debut.


Our House, a musical based on the songs of pop group Madness, opened with a star-studded West End première.

Glenn Close became fatally attracted to the London stage in the National Theatre's production of A Streetcar Named Desire.

Dames Judi Dench and Maggie Smith took to the stage together for the first time for David Hare's The Breath of Life at London's Theatre Royal Haymarket.


Gillian Anderson received unflattering reviews for her own West End debut in What The Night Is For at London's Comedy Theatre.

Sean Bean provided a raunchy Macbeth at London's Albery Theatre.

Sam Mendes' final series of plays at the Donmar earned him best director accolades at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards.

Robert de Nrio
De Niro backed Queen musical We Will Rock You
Gwyneth Paltrow lost out on best actress to Clare Higgins for her role in Vincent in Brixton.


Mendes' successor Michael Grandage's production of the Noel Coward play The Vortex opened at the Donmar, to mixed reviews.

Andrew Lloyd Webber's Indian-themed musical Bombay Dreams takes over £10m after six months in the West End.

See also:

11 Jan 02 | Entertainment
13 Jan 02 | Entertainment
25 Jul 02 | Entertainment
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