The Phil Willmott Company returns to the Union Theatre in the new year with its third annual season. The focus of 2018’s Essential Classics programme is on “great playwrights and composers of the past who have reflected on issues we face today”.
Chaos in Europe, Catalan independence and hard-line Russian politics inform sharply focused new productions of three classics, all directed by Phil Willmott: George Bernard Shaw’s 1999 play Heartbreak House, George Bizet’s 1875 opera Carmen in a new musical theatre version and Anton Chekhov’s 1903 play The Cherry Orchard.
4 January-3 February 2018
West End and Broadway leading lady Helen Anker plays Hesione Hushabye gathering the outrageously eccentric family of Captain Shotover together in their country house to save her young protégé from a marriage of convenience to an ageing industrialist. Anker is joined in the cast by Lianne Harvey, Toby Spearpoint, Ben Porter, JP Turner, Mat Betteridge, Francesca Burgoyne, James Horne, Alison Mead and Richard Harfst.
7 February-10 March 2018
This new musical theatre version of Bizet’s classic is adapted and directed by Willmott and stars Rachel Lea-Gray in the title role opposite Maximilian Marston as Don Jose. Bizet’s unforgettable tunes, re-conceived as musical theatre, stirringly bring to life the story of a dangerous, seductive Spanish heroine recklessly playing with her fate and that of her lovers at a time of civil unrest and political uncertainty.
Young Corporal José has a girl he plans to marry back at home and a strong sense of duty. When he breaks up a fight between the cigarette factory girls on the streets of a Seville bristling with rival factions, he meets the wild and reckless gypsy, Carmen. The passion that flares between them is intense, intoxicating and deadly.
The cast also features Bronia Pearce, Ellie Ann Lowe, Jasmine Bradford, Thomas Mitchells, Pantelakis Christou, Alexander Barria, Charlotte Haines, Harry Powell, Charlotte Haines, Brett Sinclair, Chris Britton, Jack Malin, Kerry Way and Samantha Richards.
The Cherry Orchard
14 March-7 April 2018
Chekhov’s final masterpiece, a poignant comedy about a family facing ruin, is a vibrant snapshot of life before the sweeping changes that came to a head with the Russian Revolution. Casting still to be announced.