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Johnson Returns to Menier to Revive Rookery Nook

By • West End
Following success at the Olivier Awards this week with La Cage aux Folles (See News, 8 Mar 2009), director Terry Johnson (pictured) will return to the Menier Chocolate Factory, this time to revive a classic English play rather than a classic Broadway musical.

Johnson’s new production of Ben Travers’ farce Rookery Nook will have a limited season at the 150-seat Southwark powerhouse from 29 April to 20 June 2009 (previews from 16 April). Casting has yet to be announced for the production, which will be designed by Tim Shortall, with lighting by Jason Taylor.

Newly married playboy Gerald Popkiss is on his way to Rookery Nook with his new wife Clara and his mother-in-law. Forced to travel on alone when his mother-in-law suddenly falls sick, Gerald arrives to find quite a commotion. A beautiful young girl has been thrown out of the house next door in nothing but her pink silk pyjamas and begs him to let her stay. Gerald must find the young girl some clothes and, until then, keep her hidden from his sister-in-law Gertrude, who lives nearby, and Rookery Nook's meddling maid, Mrs Leverett.

Johnson’s revival of Jerry Herman’s La Cage aux Folles won two Oliviers – Best Musical Revival and Best Actor in a Musical (Douglas Hodge) – to add to its two Whatsonstage.com Awards and one Critics’ Circle Award this year. Johnson was also nominated for a Best Director Olivier for the production, which transferred to the West End’s Playhouse Theatre in October after its sell-out run at the Chocolate Factory. Also a leading playwright, Johnson’s other recent directing credits include Rain Man, Whipping It Up, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Dumb Show and The Graduate as well as his own plays such as Hitchcock Blonde and Piano/Forte.

As well as Rookery Nook, Ben Travers’ plays include The Bed Before Yesterday, Plunder, A Cup of Kindness, Spotted Dick and Thark. In1996 Travers was the recipient of the Evening Standard Special Award for his work in the theatre. Rookery Nook, based on Travers’ 1923 novel, was first performed at the West End’s Aldwych Theatre in 1926, and in 1970 it was filmed for the BBC with a cast including Irene Handl, Richard Briers and Arthur Lowe.

Ahead of Rookery Nook, the Chocolate Factory will host two stand-up shows. Under the banner Live at the Chocolate Factory, UK-based Canadian comedian Phil Nichol, who is also an award-winning stage actor, will play seven performances only from 12 to 20 March 2009, followed by American comedian and musician Charles Fleischer, who runs from 24 March to 11 April 2009, with two family-friendly matinees on 29 March and 5 April.

- by Terri Paddock


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