The new season at the Menier Chocolate Factory has been announced, featuring a rep season of Willy Russell's Educating Rita and Shirley Valentine, the premiere of the Harold Prince and Susan Stroman-directed musical Paradise Found and a new revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Aspects of Love, helmed by the show's original director Trevor Nunn.

The season opens with, as previously reported (See News, 12 Feb 2010), the first major London revivals of Willy Russell’s award-winning Educating Rita and Shirley Valentine, playing in repertoire from 8 April to 8 May (previews from 26 March).

Meera Syal will star in Glen Walford's production of Shirley Valentine, the 1986 monologue that centres on a bored middle-aged Liverpool housewife who seeks escape and adventure abroad.

Educating Rita, which is directed by Chocolate Factory newcomer Jeremy Sams (The King & I, The Sound of Music), will star Larry Lamb (Gavin and Stacey) and Laura Dos Santos – who starred in the Radio 4 adaptation of the play last Christmas – as Frank and Rita.

Musical firsts

As previously announced (See News, 12 Feb 2010), Harold Prince and Susan Stroman will co-direct an all-American cast including Kate Baldwin, John Cullum, Shuler Hensley, Judy Kaye and Mandy Patinkin, in the world premiere of Paradise Found, which runs from 26 May to 26 June (previews from 19 May).

Based on the novel The Tale of the 1002nd Night by Viennese author Joseph Roth, Paradise Found utilises the music of 'Waltz King' Johann Strauss II, adapted and arranged by Jonathan Tunick, and features a book by Richard Nelson and lyrics by Ellen Fitzhugh.

The Shah of Persia is feeling low. So to lift his spirits he’s off to Vienna with his Eunuch in tow for some new adventures. He promptly falls in love with the Empress of the Empire, much to the dismay of her husband, so a resident of the local brothel – who is a double for the Empress – is substituted for a night of passion. But she’s in love with a Baron, who’s having an affair with the Soap Manufacturer’s Wife...

Set design is by Beowulf Boritt, with costumes by Judy Dolan, lighting by Howell Binkley and sound by Gareth Owen. Further casting will be announced shortly.

Rounding off the Spring/Summer season, from 15 July to 11 September (previews from 3 July), is the first major London revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber, Don Black and Charles Hart’s Aspects of Love - famous for its hit song “Love Changes Everything”.

Four-time Whatsonstage.com Award winner Trevor Nunn, who directed the original 1989 production at the Prince of Wales Theatre, returns to the Chocolate Factory (following last year's acclaimed A Little Night Music) to direct, with choreography by Lynne Page, design by David Farley, lighting by Paul Pyant and sound by Gareth Owen.

Based on David Garnett’s novel of the same name, Aspects of Love tells the story of passion, love and loss across three generations of a family and their companions set against the background of 1940’s France and Italy.

Alex Dillingham (originally played by Michael Ball), a young student travelling through France, falls in love with the alluring actress Rose Vibert. As the pair embark on a passionate affair, the unexpected arrival of Alex’s uncle changes their lives forever. Casting for the new production is still to be announced.