Following its hit production of The Pirates of Penzance in 2000 (and reprised in 2001), the Open Air Theatre (pictured) in Regent’s Park will return to Gilbert and Sullivan with a new version of HMS Pinafore for its 2005 musical. The new summer repertory season, running from 30 May to 10 September 2005, will as usual also feature two Shakespeare productions - this year, Twelfth Night and Cymbeline - and a play for children.

The season kicks off with Twelfth Night, which runs from 6 June to 1 September 2005 (previews from 30 May). Shakespeare’s comedy of mistaken identities, unrequited love, trickery and drunken revelling was the first play ever staged at the Open Air Theatre in 1932. This new production will be directed by Timothy Sheader and designed by Jessica Curtis.

It’s joined in repertory by the Open Air’s first-ever production of the Bard’s late romance, Cymbeline, running from 10 June to 3 September 2005 (previews from 1 June). Twenty year after the kidnapping of two young princes from his court, King Cymbeline angles for his remaining daughter Imogen to marry his stepson, not knowing that she’s already married her commoner lover. The production is directed by Rachel Kavanaugh and designed by John Bauser.

Premiered in London in 1878, HMS Pinafore was Gilbert and Sullivan’s first smash hit, running for 571 performances. Aboard Her Majesty's Ship Pinafore, the captain’s daughter Josephine is in love with seaman Ralph Rackstraw. However, she’s about to be betrothed to Sir Joseph Porter, who pays a shipboard visit, along with his sister, cousin and aunt.

Subtitled Dauntless Dick Deadeye, Herbert Appleman’s new version of the operetta highlights the comic character of Dick Deadeye as the cutting raconteur. The production is directed by Open Air artistic director Ian Talbot and designed by Paul Farnsworth. It runs in repertory from 21 July to 10 September 2005 (previews from 19 July).

This year’s children’s show sees the return of David Conville’s stage adaptation of Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows, which follows the adventures of Ratty, Mole, Badger and Toad. Directed by Laura Baggaley, with designs by Mamoru Iriguchi, it runs from 2 to 27 August 2005.

- by Terri Paddock