Less than two days after the star-studded gala to bid farewell to Kevin Spacey at the Old Vic, his successor Matthew Warchus is making headlines with an inaugural year-long season and commanding statement of intent. It’s undoubtedly a whole new era down Waterloo way – the award-laden Young Vic down the road, be warned. Warchus is coming for your gongs!
For my own analysis of Warchus’ announcement(s) today, read today’s other posting. Below I’ve rounded up top quotes and headlines from other sources.
Quote Unquote: Matthew Warchus
In a press statement
“After 25 years of freelance directing, I unexpectedly find myself running my favourite theatre in the world. Or, if you like, my two favourite theatres since the Old Vic can now transition with relative ease between London’s best in-the-round space and the traditional, magnificent end-on auditorium. During my tenure I look forward to playing seasons in both of these great configurations.
“My first season demonstrates our aim to present more productions per year, of wide-ranging work, in a ‘something for everyone’ approach which reflects my own eclectic tastes and love of this unique and uplifting art form. In its dazzling history, The Old Vic has been home not only to great acting but also to dance, musical extravaganzas, vaudeville and spectacle. This diverse heritage is a big part of my inspiration going forward.
“When Lilian Baylis ran the Old Vic she kept a sign over her desk which read ‘Dare, always dare!’. Taking my cue from her, my goal is to programme invigorating seasons which are, by turns, surprising, smart, adventurous, and fun. Come and join in.”
In the Independent
“You can’t overestimate what Kevin did. This was a theatre that was about not to exist 12 years ago. He and [chief executive] Sally Greene saved the theatre.”
“I’m allergic to hype…I’ll hide behind the work, which is my preferred place. I’ll be slightly invisible and hopefully the work will be what keeps the spotlight on this theatre.”
In the Telegraph
“Lately, [the Old Vic] has felt like a posh theatre. But part of its heritage has been quite iconoclastic, rule-breaking and sometimes cutting edge. Even when Laurence Olivier was here with Tyrone Guthrie [in the 1930s] he was doing quite radical, adventurous work.
“So part of the brand refresh is to try to conceive of an artistic powerhouse that is unintimidating and unpretentious – not so populist that it doesn’t do anything great, and certainly not catering to the lowest common denominator.”
On the BBC
On Groundhog Day: “It’s a film which says a lot about life: how little time there is to become the best version of yourself. It is big and meaningful.”
On Official London Theatre
“I wanted to increase the number of productions in a year. Shortening the runs means more work and more contrasting kinds of work. But by increasing the number of shows you decrease the number of weeks that each show runs for. That suddenly means that instead of trying to look for shows that can do 12 weeks in a 1,000 seat theatre – and that excludes a whole lot of work that you can’t possibly risk – suddenly you’ve got a five-week run here and a five-week run there, and it’s legitimate and viable to programme a bit more adventurously in those areas. On the other hand, when you’ve got something that’s a bit more of a sure thing, you’ve only got six or seven weeks for it, which is a bit of a problem.”
Further season details are available at www.oldvictheatre.com.
What the papers (and other press) say
THE BIG INTERVIEW
Matthew Warchus: ‘I don’t want the Old Vic to be posh anymore’
It is “a something-for-everyone approach, which reflects my own eclectic tastes”, Matthew Warchus told the Telegraph. Spacey brought Hollywood star power to the Old Vic, Warchus brings much more.
THE BIG QUESTION
Is Matthew Warchus Better than Kevin Spacey?
“The most exciting thing about the Old Vic is not its past, it’s its future,” Kevin Spacey said at a recent event marking the end of his tenure there as artistic director. Dominic Cavendish agrees.
ALL THE NEWS ANGLES
THE TIMES: Spacey’s Star-studded Farewell Gala Ends an Era
“Oh my God, he is gorgeous,” said the woman high up in the dress circle. “I’ve loved him for 20 years.” Proof of their love: theatregoers paid £2,000 a ticket for Spacey’s farewell gala on Sunday.
THE TIMES: Nothing Will Ever Be the Same Again – Groundhog Day the Musical
Those who remember Bill Murray in Groundhog Day may think they’ve seen it all before, but this time the story has returned as a musical in Matthew Warchus’ first season leading the rebranded Old Vic.
New Take on Old Vic with Matthew Warchus as Artistic Director
A musical version of Groundhog Day, an adaptation of Dr Seuss’ The Lorax and Timothy Spall in Harold Pinter’s The Caretaker will all feature in the first post-Kevin Spacey season at the Old Vic.
Kevin Spacey’s Successor at the Old Vic Promises a More Low-key Approach
Matthew Warchus’ first productions will include works by Henrik Ibsen, Harold Pinter and a musical adaptation of Groundhog Day. His season indicates a significant change of approach.
Groundhog Day Musical Has World Premiere at Old Vic
A new stage musical of Groundhog Day premieres at the Old Vic in London next year. Based on the 1993 comedy film with Bill Murray, the show has music by Tim Minchin and is directed by Matthew Warchus.
Old Vic Seals Transfers Deal with Sonia Friedman and Scott Rudin
Warchus has begun his Old Vic tenure by securing a new partnership with producers Sonia Friedman and Scott Rudin, giving them exclusivity on commercial West End and Broadway transfers.
Fiennes, Brydon, Spall, Minchin to feature in Matthew Warchus’ First Old Vic Season
Incoming Old Vic artistic director Matthew Warchus has unveiled plans to double numbers of shows staged at the venue each year. His first season features Ralph Fiennes, Rob Brydon and Timothy Spall.
Ralph Fiennes and Timothy Spall Lead Old Vic season
Ralph Fiennes, currently in Shaw’s Man and Superman at the National, will star in Harold Pinter’s modern classic The Caretaker as part of Warchus’ first season as artistic director of the Old Vic.