Birmingham Revives Madness Musical Our HouseDate: 8 January 2008
Our House - the 2003 Laurence Olivier Award-winning Best New Musical, which was inspired by the greatest hits of Madness Ė will receive its first major UK revival this year, opening at Birmingham Rep in May ahead of a national tour. Other highlights in Birmingham Repís new spring/summer season include revivals of Ibsenís The Lady from the Sea and Tom Stoppardís Hapgood, starring Claire Price and Josie Lawrence respectively.
The new in-house schedule commences with Ibsen's 1888 drama, in a new translation by Mike Poulton directed by Lucy Bailey, running from 7 to 29 March 2008. Ellida is trapped in a stifling marriage to a widower and haunted by a love from her past to the point of obsession. In an environment of strict moral rules, she has to decide which future to embrace. Claire Price (Don Carlos, Brand on stage, TVís Rebus) stars as the tragic Ellida.
Rep artistic director Rachel Kavanaugh will then direct Stoppardís 1988 spy play Hapgood, with Josie Lawrence starring as the title character, who is under pressure to expose the culprit responsible for leaking vital information to the Russians. Will her elaborate scheme be a success or is there more to it than meets the eye? A co-production with the West Yorkshire Playhouse, Hapgood is in Birmingham from 11 to 26 April before moving on to the Leeds venue from 1 to 24 May 2008.
Birmingham Repís main house season concludes, from 29 May to 21 June 2008, with Our House. A musical comedy with a fictional Sliding Doors-like plotline written by Tim Firth, Our House follows the two courses London lad Joe's life could take after he commits a petty crime to impress his girlfriend, Sarah. The musical is directed by Matthew Warchus, designed by Rob Howell and choreographed by Peter Darling, the same team who - since the musicalís premiere in October 2002at the West Endís Cambridge Theatre, where it ran for ten months Ė went on to collaborate on stage adaptation of JRR Tolkienís The Lord of the Rings.
Our House features more than 20 of Madness' hits, including "One Step Beyond", "House of Fun", "My Girl", "Baggy Trousers" and the title song. There are also two new songs - "Back in My Arms Again" and "Simple Equation" - which Madness wrote especially for the musical.
Aside from the main house, Birmingham Rep also produces new work in its studio space, The Door. The season there will see four world premieres, one of which is Douglas Maxwellís The Mother Ship, which directed by Rep associate director Ben Payne. The play follows a fantastic and funny adventure about what it means to be young, to be different, or just to believe in something beyond the ordinary. The production runs from 4 to 12 March 2008. Other productions in The Door include: How to Tell the Monsters From The Misfits (24 April Ė 17 May); Lick, a piece about the five senses aimed at three- to five-year-olds (1Ė5 April), and Charlie Darkís one-man show Have Box Will Travel (9Ė12 April).
A number of tours will also be making stops at the Rep, including David Farrís production of Kafkaís Metamorphosis and Out of Jointís premiere of David Edgarís latest play Testing the Echo. Further ahead into autumn, Rufus Norrisí current West End revival of Kander and Ebb musical Cabaret will launch its national tour from Birmingham in August/September. And the Repís Christmas show for 2008/09 will be the West Yorkshire Playhouse production of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, which has been running in Leeds this past festive season.
- by Tom Atkins & Terri Paddock