English Touring Theatre’s production of Hamlet - starring Ed Stoppard (pictured), son of playwright Tom Stoppard in the title role – will transfer to the West End next month. It opens on 20 February 2006 (previews from 13 February) at the New Ambassadors Theatre, where it’s booking until 22 April.

Ed Stoppard’s other stage credits include The Merchant of Venice and The Seagull at Chichester. Other members of the touring cast - including Anita Dobson as (Frozen, Whatsontage.com Award for Thoroughly Modern Millie, TV’s EastEnders) as Gertrude - are also expected to reprise their roles in the West End.

Michael Cronin, Patrick Drury, Richard Hansell, Sam Hazeldine, Martin Hodgson, Rhys Meredith, Alice Patten, David Robb, Ross Waiton and Ben Warwick all appeared with Stoppard and Dobson in the Shakespeare classic on the tour, which visited eight venues from 23 September to 26 November 2005 (See News, 9 Sep 2005).

The production is directed by ETT artistic director Stephen Unwin and designed by Michael Vale, with costumes by Mark Bouman, lighting by Malcolm Rippeth, original music by Olly Fox and sound by Dan Steele.

Hamlet will be the first ETT production to transfer to the West End since a financial crisis threatened to close the company in November 2003 (See News, 19 Nov 2003). Its last West End outing was with the Timothy West-headed King Lear at the Old Vic three years ago. Other past transfers have included the world premiere of Peter Gill’s The York Realist.

Currently at the New Ambassadors, the 75th anniversary revival of RC Sheriff's classic First World War play Journey's End finishes its oft-extended, multi-venue West End season on 28 January 2006 (See News, 5 Dec 2005).

- by Terri Paddock