Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre have today announced details of Timothy Sheader’s 10th season as Artistic Director, which includes a Drew McOnie‘s major new production of Broadway classic On the Town, a new modern version of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities and, as previously announced, the return of the Evening Standard Award-winning revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar.
The season opens on 19 May 2017 with the musical On The Town (19 May-1 July 2017) directed and choreographed by Drew McOnie. With music by Leonard Bernstein and book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, including the hit song “New York, New York”, On The Town will be the biggest dance musical ever staged at the Open Air Theatre. McOnie scored a hit with his choreography for Jesus Christ Superstar in 2016 and, in addition to In The Heights for which he won the Olivier Award as Best Theatre Choreographer, he has also choreographed Jekyll and Hyde and The Lorax (Old Vic), Bugsy Malone (Lyric Hammersmith) and Hairspray and Chicago (Curve, Leicester). He is currently directing and choreographing Strictly Ballroom at West Yorkshire Playhouse.
Bringing two of Charles Dickens’s most popular stories out in the open, Dickens Uncovered celebrates the greatest storyteller of London life. Timothy Sheader directs A Tale of Two Cities (7 July-8 August 2017), a new play by Matthew Dunster adapted from the original novel by Charles Dickens.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness; it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair; we had everything before us, we had nothing before us.” Sound familiar? How much more do those in power think Europe’s poor can take? When will the people take to the streets of the cities and roar enough is enough?
Timothy Sheader’s previous plays at the Open Air Theatre have included To Kill a Mockingbird, Lord of the Flies and the Olivier Award-nominated Peter Pan. As a writer, Dunster’s work includes Children’s Children (Almeida), You Can See The Hills (Royal Exchange/Young Vic) and an adaptation of Saturday Night Sunday Morning (Royal Exchange, Manchester). He has also previously directed A Midsummer Nights’ Dream and The Seagull at the Open Air Theatre.
The theatre has previously had great success with its Shakespeare plays ‘re-imagined for everyone aged six and over’. Developing this programme of work made especially for families, Caroline Byrne directs Oliver Twist created for everyone aged six and over adapted by Anya Reiss from the novel by Charles Dickens (17 July-5 August 2017). Recommended for ages six and over, this will play daytime performances alongside A Tale of Two Cities.
Anya Reiss, winner of the Evening Standard Award for Most Promising Playwright in 2010, has previously adapted Spring Awakening (Headlong), Uncle Vanya (St James), Three Sisters and The Seagull (Southwark Playhouse), and was a core writer on EastEnders (2013-2016). Caroline Byrne was formerly Associate Director at The Gate Theatre and is currently an Education Associate Practitioner at the Royal Shakespeare Company. Her previous directing credits include The Taming of the Shrew (Shakespeare’s Globe), Parallel Macbeth (Young Vic), Old Vic New Voices Festival (Old Vic), Eclipsed (Gate; nominated for Best Production and Ensemble Off West End 2015) and Shakespeare in a Suitcase (co-directed with Tim Crouch for RSC).
As previously announced, following its overwhelming sell-out success in 2016, Jesus Christ Superstar returns for just 41 performances (11 August – 16 September), giving audiences one final chance to see the production in its original home. With direction by Timothy Sheader, design by Tom Scutt, choreography by Drew McOnie, musical supervision by Tom Deering, lighting design by Lee Curran and sound design by Nick Lidster for Autograph, the production won the BBC Radio 2 Audience Award for Best Musical in the Evening Standard Awards and has received 15 nominations in the BroadwayWorld Awards, including Theatrical Event of the Year. Casting information will be announced in due course.
2017 marks the bicentennial of Jane Austen, and Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre’s sell-out production of Pride and Prejudice, directed by Deborah Bruce, continues its UK tour through to the end of February.