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London Coliseum

  • Music
  • Covent Garden
London Coliseum_exterior.jpg

Time Out says

This grand Covent Garden opera house is the home of the ENO

A few years ago, the London Coliseum was having as much drama offstage as on; huge funding cuts, high-profile exits, and even strikes from the chorus made it a venue in turmoil. Today, the home of the English National Opera still isn't quite as secure in its status as the Royal Opera House, London's other leading opera venue. But under new boss Daniel Kramer's regime, it's considerably cooler.  

The American-born Kramer cut his teeth on the theatre scene as well as in European opera houses, and it shows in a programme that mixes returning opera classics and edgier experiments. There have been ambitious new commissions, and link-ups with contemporary artists like Anish Kapoor. ENO is also increasingly staging work outside its home at the Coliseum, and has put its considerable mite behind musical collabs with London theatres like The Gate, Wilton's Music Hall, and Regent's Park Open Air Theatre. 

But you'll still find the traditional bread-and-butter of the ENO's line-up in the Coliseum's vast 2,359-seat auditorium, which drips with gilt and Classical-inspired statues, and has four tiers of balconied seating under a lavish domed ceiling. Built as a grand music hall in 1904 by the renowned architect Frank Matcham, was restored to its former glory in 2004 as part of an £80 million restoration.

Unlike at the Royal Opera House, all works here are performed in English, making it an accessible intro the world of opera. Stalls seats are often formidably expensive, but there are some real bargains to be found in the vertiginous heights of the gallery. 


St Martin's Lane
Tube: Charing Cross
Opening hours:
Mon–Sat 10am–6pm , or later when a show is on
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‘My Fair Lady’ review

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Musicals

‘My Fair Lady’ is a complicated kind of musical fairytale. It gives audiences wonderfully quaint Victoriana and an enchanting rags-to-riches transformation, but it also sours its own magic by unveiling the grim social injustices beneath the story. Fresh from Broadway, Bartlett Sher’s production is slick and accomplished, but loses the narrative's subtlety in a crowd-pleasing burst of top-hatted kitsch.Amara Okereke plays cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle with vocal aplomb: her voice soars through much-loved songs like 'Wouldn't It Be Loverly', making them a heart-rending highlight of the show. But she also makes Eliza a bit of a caricature. When she’s called insults like a ‘squashed cabbage leaf’ by patronising upper-class phonetics expert Henry Higgins she's not crushed – she physically shoves him out the room, in moments of physical comedy that mask her vulnerability in the moment.  And as Higgins, Harry Hadden-Paton lacks the haughty charisma and underlying menace needed to give their relationship real snap.Sher's direction and Michael Yeargan's elaborate but flat-feeling set design follow the much-loved 1963 film closely, and in doing so they create a staid frame around this story, one that only broad performances can puncture enough to get a laugh out of the audience. Sher’s treatment of 'I'm Getting Married in the Morning' is a case in point: this song is a comic classic, and it shouldn't need knicker-flashing chorus girls and a dragged-up dummy bride to have the audi

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