Stratford Shrew Negotiates Transfer to Queen'sDate: 12 November 2003
As previously tipped (See The Goss, 11 Nov 2003), it looks like London audiences will, after all, have a chance to see Gregory Doran's critically acclaimed Royal Shakespeare Company productions of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew and John Fletcher's lesser-known sequel The Tamer Tamed.
Subject to final contractual negotiations, the pair - which star Alexandra Gilbreath and Jasper Britton as the alternately wooing, warring and wedding Kate/Maria and Petruchio - are expected to arrive at the West End's Queen's Theatre, running in repertory, for a limited eight-week season from 12 January 2004 (to be confirmed).
The transfer follows Whatsonstage.com's report last month revealing discontent amongst Stratford-upon-Avon's acting company, who'd given the RSC management an extra week's grace to extend their contracts in the hope of a London season (See News, 7 Oct 2003). At the time, however, with no base in the capital since withdrawing from the Barbican Centre and no co-production arrangements in place, it looked like there would not be a single London transfer from this year's RSC Festival season - for the first time in the company's history.
After breaking on Whatsonstage.com, the no-transfer story was picked up by numerous national newspapers. Today, RSC artistic director Michael Boyd was called before London Assembly's Culture, Sport and Tourism committee to justify the non-appearance of the season. Speaking before the committee, Boyd admitted that, "With the glorious benefit of hindsight, we would not have left the Barbican in that way", referring to his predecessor Adrian Noble's hasty retreat from the company's residency at the City complex (See News, 21 May 2001).
Luckily for The Taming of the Shrew and The Tamer Tamed, commercial producer Bill Kenwright - the key West End backer, with Thelma Holt, of last year's Olivier Award-winning RSC Jacobethan season as well as the upcoming Judi Dench-led All's Well That Ends Well - has now been persuaded to bring the two additional Doran stagings to Shaftesbury Avenue as well.
The productions have just completed their season at Stratford's Royal Shakespeare Theatre, where they opened in April 2003, and will have a Christmas run in Washington DC after The Tamer Tamed's stint as part of the RSC's annual Newcastle visitation this month.
The RSC are now in advanced negotiations to find a new London home, which Boyd has previously said is "absolutely crucial" to the future of the company. An announcement is expected at the start of 2004 about a 'temporary' venue intended to see it through the next four to five years. The aim is to have this in place by October 2004, in time to take transfers of the four Shakespeare Tragedies and other productions in the spring 2004 Festival line-up.
Currently residing at the Queen's is the American marching band extravaganza, Cyberjam, which is taking bookings up to 4 January 2004. Later in the year, Cameron Mackintosh's production of Boublil and Schonberg's long-running musical blockbuster Les Miserables is expected to transfer to the Queen's from the nearby Palace Theatre, although Whatsonstage.com is awaiting official confirmation about the move.
NOTE: Booking has not yet opened for these productions.
- by Terri Paddock