Timothy Sheader, new Artistic Director at the Open Air Theatre, Regent’s Park, has announced his inaugural season. In keeping with the tradition at the Open Air, this summer will see a musical revival, two Shakespeare pieces and a children’s show performed at the popular al fresco venue.
In a twist on the theme, the children’s show will also be a Shakespeare piece, with Open Air favourite A Midsummer Night’s Dream reinvented for a younger audience. This joins productions of Romeo And Juliet and Twelfth Night in a Shakespeare season that will share both set (by Robert Innes Hopkins) and cast. The Shakespeare season comes to an end on 2 August when the theatre will be handed over to a revival of the Lerner and Loewe musical Gigi.
Sheader will direct Romeo And Juliet, which opens on 9 June, following previews from 2 June. It will be his second production at the Open Air, having previously directed Twelfth Night in 2005. Before replacing Ian Talbot as Artistic Director of the Open Air, Sheader’s directorial credits included Sweet Charity (Sheffield Crucible), Hobson’s Choice (Watermill) and The Three Musketeers (Bristol Old Vic).
Edward Dick, who directed the 2007 touring Shakespeare’s Globe production of Romeo And Juliet, directs Twelfth Night, which opens on 13 June following previews from 4 June.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream (opening 12 July, previews from 8 July) is being re-worked for a young audience by director/choreographer Dominic Leclerc, who will use Shakespeare’s original language and text but transform the piece into a 75 minute physical production suitable for theatregoers aged six and older.
Gigi (opens 14 August, previews from 6 August), which is also to be directed by Sheader, stars former Mary Poppins Lisa O’Hare in the title role, and star of stage and screen Millicent Martin as Mamita. This revival will be the first time that the tale of a developing friendship between a young would-be courtesan and an eligible playboy has been seen in London for 20 years.
The Sunday concert series also returns for 2008 with Daniel Kitson, Jimmy Carr and The Comedy Store Players already confirmed.
Public booking for the 2008 Open Air season opens on 11 February.