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Jesus Christ Superstar gets Open Air debut

Published 9 November 2015

Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice will have their work seen on the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre’s stage for the first time next summer when their global hit musical Jesus Christ Superstar is revived at the venue.

The iconic rock opera joins an eclectic season that includes the professional premiere of Michael Morpurgo’s Running Wild, a new production of Henry V directed by Robert Hastie and the return of 2013’s Pride And Prejudice.

Jesus Christ Superstar will play from 15 July to 27 August, marking 45 years since the legendary hit was first seen on stage. The bible-inspired tale is loosely based on the Gospels’ account of the last week of Jesus’ life and features the well-known hits I Don’t Know How To Love Him, Gethsemane and Superstar.

The musical will be brought to life on the alfresco stage by the venue’s Artistic Director Timothy Sheader with choreography by one of 2015’s busiest men in theatre, Drew McOnie. McOnie will bring his unique style to Lloyd Webber and Rice’s epic story following his work on this year’s Bugsy Malone, current hit In The Heights and a dance version of The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde, which will be staged at The Old Vic next year.

Prior to the season’s musical offering, Morpurgo’s Running Wild will be given its first full staging, kicking off the venue’s season from 13 May to 12 June. Adapted for the stage by Samuel Adamson, the War Horse author’s tale of love, loss and loyalty tells the story of Will, whose ride on an elephant while on holiday in Indonesia turns into a fight for survival as a tsunami strikes and he’s sent hurtling into the jungle.

Running Wild, which will be directed by Sheader and Dale Rooks with puppetry design by Finn Caldwell and War Horse’s Toby Olié, is produced in collaboration with Chichester Festival Theatre, whose youth theatre production won this year’s UK Theatre Award for Best Show for Children and Young People.

The Bard’s classic history play will follow from 17 June to 9 July. Directed by Robert Hastie, whose recent productions include My Night With Reg and Splendour at the Donmar Warehouse, Henry V’s run at the venue will commemorate the legacy of Shakespeare, marking 400 years since the great British playwright’s death.

The four-show season will be completed by Deborah Bruce’s production of Pride And Prejudice, which returns to the venue from 2 to 17 September prior to a UK tour. Casting for the season is still to be announced.

Talking about his 2016 programme, Artistic Director Sheader said: “In a year when the world celebrates the life and work of Shakespeare, our 2016 season champions British writing. Whilst giving classics a new voice through outdoor production, I am delighted to be bringing a new play, Running Wild, to the stage this season. I am passionate about storytelling and of creating work that enhances the shared experience of theatregoing, and I look forward to sharing these productions with our audiences.”

Tickets for the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre’s 2016 season will go on sale on 8 December with priority booking for members from 12 November.

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