TRH Season Ends With Marguerite’s Early ClosureDate: 21 August 2008
The Theatre Royal Haymarket’s ambitious West End venture - a year-long season of productions helmed by a single director under the theatre’s own commercial flag - will end in disappointment next month, with the closure seven weeks early of its final offering, the world premiere of Michel Legrand’s musical Marguerite - raising doubts about the viability of future in-house programming.
The Theatre Royal Haymarket Company, with its initial programme under the direction of former Almeida artistic director Jonathan Kent, was launched with great fanfare last summer (See News, 9 Jul 2007), having lured a roll-call of top British thespians – including Eileen Atkins, Toby Stephens, Patricia Hodge and David Haig – to appear in the two opening plays, revivals of William Wycherley’s Restoration comedy The Country Wife and Edward Bond’s The Sea.
Marguerite was meant to bring the season to climactic – successful - conclusion. However, despite impressive creative credentials (in addition to Legrand’s score, it has a book by Les Miserables’ Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg and English lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer) and being cast to the hilt (with Ruthie Henshall in the title role, opposite Julian Ovenden and Alexander Hanson), the show opened to lukewarm reviews and, like the two plays that preceded it, has struggled at the box office (See Review Round-up, 21 May 2008).
The musical – based on Alexandre Dumas’ 1848 novel La Dame aux Camellias, relocated to Nazi-occupied Paris - had its world premiere on 20 May 2008 (previews from 6 May) and had been scheduled to run until 1 November. It will now finish on 13 September after 147 performances.
Co-authors and producers Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg said today: “Despite high praise from audience members, critically acclaimed performances and the release of the much-anticipated cast recording, we have made the difficult decision to close the show in London a few weeks earlier than originally planned. Both the knock-on effect of the current economic climate, as well as disappointing ticket sales throughout the summer months have contributed to our decision to close early.”
They added: “We are grateful to our outstanding cast led by Ruthie Henshall, Julian Ovenden and Alexander Hanson and to our exceptional production team and artistic collaborators who have helped us to realise Marguerite at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. We are very proud of what we have achieved. In January next year we begin rehearsals for a Japanese production which will open at the Akasaka ACT Theatre in Tokyo in February, followed by performances in Osaka, and plans are underway for a Spanish production in 2009 and a French production in 2010.”
Back at the Haymarket, though there have been rumours of future productions – not least the tantalising prospect of Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart in a revival of Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, directed by Sean Holmes (See the Goss, 30 May 2008) – no announcements have yet been made regarding the future of the fledgling in-house company.
More immediately, the historic theatre will return to business as usual as a commercial West End receiving house, with the transfer of the new stage version of Tracy Chevalier’s best-selling novel The Girl With a Pearl Earring, which stars Adrian Dunbar and Kimberley Nixon and opens on 29 September 2008 (previews from 24 September) following initial dates in Cambridge (See Today’s Other News).
- by Terri Paddock