The upcoming production of The Taming of the Shrew at Wilton’s Music Hall (pictured) – which, as previously reported (See News, 29 Dec 2006), runs from 22 March to 28 April 2007 (previews from 19 March) – will launch a new annual season, entitled “Shakespeare at Wilton’s”, presented at the historical but semi-derelict east London landmark.

In the new production, directed by Nick Hutchinson, Rachael Stirling will play Kate opposite Oliver Chris as Petruchio in the ultimate battle of the sexes. Stirling has just appeared at Wilton’s in David Mamet’s adaptation of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya.

Stirling’s other recent stage credits include Look Back in Anger, Theatre of Blood, Anna in the Tropics and A Woman of No Importance. On screen, she’s been seen in Maybe Baby, Still Crazy, Redemption Road, Another Life and, most notably, Tipping the Velvet. Chris is best known as Boyce from Green Wing. His other TV credits include Bonkers, The IT Crowd and The Office; on film, he’s appeared in The Other Boleyn Girl, The Gathering and Bridget Jones The Edge of Reason.

Built by pub owner John Wilton in 1858, Wilton's is the world's oldest surviving extant music hall, built on the back of a pub. It was closed in the 1880s and later became a Methodist church and then a rag warehouse. Once condemned, Grade II-listed building was saved by the intervention of Sir Laurence Olivier, Peter Sellers and Sir John Betjeman and was recently a finalist in the BBC series of Restoration.

Though only 40 percent of the Music Hall is safe and in use, it now plays host to a select number of theatrical and musical events each year. The Wilton’s Music Hall Trust has been set up to stabilise the building, at an estimated cost of £3.5 million. HRH The Prince of Wales is now Patron of Wilton’s. The Trust is currently seeking funding to assist with its capital repair project.

- by Terri Paddock