Douglas Hodge and Maria Friedman will return to the Menier Chocolate Factory for its 2012 season, but the pair will remain backstage directing two of the productions.
Hodge will direct Harvey Fierstein’s Tony Award-winning drama Torch Song Trilogy from 30 May to 12 August. The Invisible Man director Ian Talbot will then return to the venue to direct Charley’s Aunt from 20 September to 10 November, before Friedman makes her directorial debut with musical Merrily We Roll Along from 16 November.
Torch Song Trilogy tells the poignant story of Arnold, a drag queen searching for love and acceptance. Fittingly, Hodge last appeared at the Menier Chocolate Factory in Fierstein’s La Cage Aux Folles, winning an Oliver and Tony Award for his performance as Albin when the production subsequently transferred to the West End and Broadway.
While Hodge is best known for his acting work, which this year sees him nominated for the Best Actor Olivier Award for his appearance in the Donmar Warehouse’s Inadmissible Evidence, the multi-talented performer made his West End directorial debut in 2006 with See How They Run at the Duchess theatre.
Following Torch Song Trilogy, the venue will stay with the cross-dressing theme but take a more comical turn for Brandon Thomas’s farce Charley’s Aunt. Written in 1892, the comedy caper tells the story of Charley who is expecting his rich Aunt Dona Lucia to arrive from Brazil and act as chaperone in order that he and his cohort Jack can invite their respective true loves, Amy and Kitty, for luncheon to ask for their hands in marriage. On learning his aunt will be delayed by several days, scuppering their romantic plans, they blackmail their eccentric friend, Lord Fancourt Babberley, to pose as Dona Lucia. But what will happen when Charley’s real Aunt arrives?
Friedman will round up the season with the classic Merrily We Roll Along. Based on the play by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart, Stephen Sondheim and George Furth’s musical charts the relationship of three friends over three decades in the entertainment business, featuring songs including Good Things Going, Not A Day Goes By and Old Friends.
In her directorial debut, Friedman could not have chosen a subject closer to her. The three-time Olivier Award-winning actress has enjoyed a long career in the entertainment industry, appearing in numerous West End productions including The Woman In White, Ragtime, Chicago and The Witches Of Eastwick, as well as Merrily We Roll Along.
The actress returns to the venue in her new directing capacity following an appearance in Talbot’s 2010 The Invisible Man and her Olivier Award-nominated solo show Maria Friedman: Rearranged.
Casting for the season is yet to be announced.