Artistic director Nicholas Hytner has today (30 January 2013) announced plans for the National Theatre's 2013 season and beyond.
 
Hytner confirmed that long-awaited Tori Amos musical The Light Princess will premiere in October in the Lyttelton Theatre, starring Rosalie Craig and Clive Rowe.

The show, adapted from George MacDonald's 1864 fairy tale by Samuel Adamson, was first announced back in January 2011 and had originally been expected to premiere in the Lyttelton earlier this year.

In MacDonald's story, a princess is cursed with a lack of gravity and the only time she doesn’t float up into the air is when she’s swimming. Because of her relationship with water, if she can master the art of crying, there’s a chance she may be grounded and be able to marry the noble prince who has fallen in love with her.

Amos has sold more than 12 million records worldwide. Her singles include "Crucify", "Silent All These Years", "Cornflake Girl", "Caught a Lite Sneeze", "Professional Widow", "Spark" and "A Sorta Fairytale".

Hytner also announced today that John Heffernan will star in Marlowe's Edward II in the Olivier from September, directed by Joe Hill-Gibbins. Heffernan, who has previously appeared at the National in plays including Major Barbara and She Stoops to Conquer, will "take his place among our leading actors" with the role, said Hytner.

Other major new productions include a staging of James Baldwin's rarely-seen play The Amen Corner, directed by Rufus Norris and starring Marianne Jean-Baptiste and Sharon D Clarke, which will open in the Olivier in June. And staying in the Olivier, in November Bijan Sheibani will direct the annual Christmas show, a production of children's adventure Emil & The Detectives adapted by Carl Miller.

Mendes returns for Lear, Anne-Marie Duff in O'Neill epic

Looking ahead to 2014, Sam Mendes, who last worked at the National in 1998, will return to the National to direct his long-time collaborator Simon Russell Beale in King Lear, opening in January.

Meanwhile in the Lyttelton, Anne-Marie Duff and Charles Edwards will star in a revival of Eugene O'Neill's epic experimental play Strange Interlude, which will be directed by Simon Godwin (making his NT debut) and open in June. Hytner described the production, which will cut the play down to under four hours, as a "major event".

"It's a very long and groundbreaking play, extraordinarily influential in its time, and it contains a huge part for Anne-Marie Duff... If it works, it's absolutely exhilarating," he added.

Also in the Lyttelton, former artistic director Richard Eyre will return to direct Pirandello's Liola in August and Melly Still (Coram Boy) will direct From Morning to Midnight in a new version by Dennis Kelly in November. And Lucy Black, Paul Higgins, Gerald Kyd, Emma Lowndes, Justine Mitchell and Geoffrey Streatfield will feature in Howard Davies' production of Maxim Gorky's 1905 play Children of the Sun, in a new version by Andrew Upton, which opens on 16 April.

"Encouraging risk" in The Shed

Lucy Prebble's award-winning play The Effect is the final show in the Cottesloe before its redevelopment and subsequent renaming as the Dorfman; new temporary venue The Shed will open in the National's main square in April.

The Shed at National Theatre
Architects' impression of The Shed

Presenting new work by theatremakers familiar to the NT as well as emerging voices, it will host a transfer of Edinburgh Fringe hit show Bullet Catch, as well as several pieces forged in the NT Studio. Artists involved will include Carrie Cracknell, Matthew Herbert, Nick Payne Marianne Elliott, Polly Findlay and Rufus Norris

The Shed will host shows including Table, Mission Drift and Home, as well as family Christmas show The Elaphantom, directed by Marianne Elliott. The winning entry from New Views, the NT’s national playwriting programme for 15-to-19 year-olds, will also be performed in The Shed in July.

All tickets in The Shed will be priced at 12 or 20 pounds. Literary associate Ben Power, who is programming the season, said at today's briefing that the temporary venue, which cost £1.8 million and was funded by profits from the Broadway run of War Horse, is "all about encouraging risk".

Hytner confirmed there will be no outdoor Watch This Space season while The Shed is in operation. The Dorfman Theatre is due to open in 2014.

Anniversary celebrations

In October there will be a special celebration to mark the 50th anniversary of the National Theatre company's first performance, which Hytner will direct and revealed "will tell the story of those 50 years through a montage of highlights".

"I hope it will involve as many as possible of the great performers of the last 50 years who are still alive," he added.

The anniversary will also be marked by a unique performance broadcast from the Olivier Theatre on BBC2 and two Arena documentaries on BBC4, as well as the publication of a book, The National Theatre Story by Daniel Rosenthal.

- by Theo Bosanquet & Rosie Bannister