Tony Award-winning writer Lee Hall will adapt the hugely popular 1998 romantic comedy Shakespeare In Love for a major new stage production set to play at the Noël Coward theatre next summer.
The West End regular, whose work on the Olivier Award-winning production of Billy Elliot The Musical followed an Academy Award nomination for the writer’s work on the film of the same name, will be joined in the creative team by Cheek By Jowl founders Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod.
The trio will bring to life Tom Stoppard and Marc Norman’s heart-warming and passionate story that Gwyneth Paltrow and Joseph Fiennes famously immortalised on film. With forbidden love, comical thespians and arguably the world’s greatest ever playwright as a protagonist, Shakespeare In Love has all the elements of a great stage drama, something Sonia Friedman, who will produce the show alongside Disney Theatrical Productions, said drew her to the project.
“Every now and then a story comes along that cries out to be staged. This is one such story,” Friedman explained. “Shakespeare In Love bursts with life and is a moving and hilarious celebration of everything that we love about the inspirational and transformative power of theatre. This project has been several years in development and Tom Schumacher [President and Producer of Disney Theatrical Productions] and I are thrilled to be confirming its world premiere in London.”
Set in Elizabethan England, the story meets a William Shakespeare plagued by debt and tormented by writer’s block. In desperate need of a new hit, he discovers a muse in the form of young noblewoman Viola De Lessepes. Their forbidden love soon draws everyone, including Queen Elizabeth herself, into the drama and inspires Will to write the greatest love story of all time, Romeo And Juliet.
Donnellan and Ormerod’s collaboration on Shakespeare In Love as director and designer respectively follows more than 30 years and 30 productions created with their critically acclaimed theatre company Cheek By Jowl which, fittingly, is well-known for its ground-breaking, international reinterpretations of Shakespeare’s work.
The creative team – described by Schumacher as “consummate theatre artists… all working at the top of their game” – will no doubt be hoping to recreate some of the success of the much-loved film, which won seven Academy Awards and topped box office records for the year of its release.
While who will recreate the iconic role of the Bard and his imagined epic love is still to be confirmed, the producers have revealed the cast will be made up of more than 26 actors and musicians to fully bring to life the vibrant colours of Shakespeare’s London to West End audiences from July 2014.
Priority booking will open later this month with tickets on sale to the public from February.