As previously tipped (See The Goss, 12 Dec 2006), the Royal Shakespeare Company’s productions of King Lear and The Seagull - both starring Ian McKellen (pictured) and directed by Trevor Nunn – will transfer to the West End at the end of a world tour. From 12 November 2007, they’ll have a limited run at the New London Theatre, where Nunn’s production of Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Cats resided for 21 years up to May 2002 (See News, 15 Jan 2002).

In the West End, the cross-cast RSC productions will run in rep, as they are currently doing at Stratford-upon-Avon’s Courtyard Theatre until 23 June 2007. Full London performance schedules will be announced later this month, with public booking opening in September 2007, following RSC members booking from July 2007.

The double bill has sold out in Stratford, despite the fact that neither production has yet been reviewed by critics. The original 3 April press performance for King Lear was cancelled at short notice when leading lady Frances Barber (Goneril in the Shakespeare, Madam Arkadina in the Chekhov) was injured in a cycling accident. It was subsequently rescheduled for tomorrow (31 May 2007), the same day as King Lear’s (See News, 10 Apr 2007).

Following Stratford, both productions visit Newcastle’s Theatre Royal (29 June – 7 July) and then embark on an international tour to Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and the US, concluding in Los Angeles on 28 October 2007.

McKellen plays the title role in King Lear and shares the role of Sorin with William Gaunt in The Seagull. The company also features: Romola Garai (Cordelia/Nina), Sylvester McCoy, Monica Dolan, Jonathan Hyde and Ben Meyjes. Others in the cast are: Ben Addis, Adam Booth, Russell Byrne, Richard Goulding, Julian Harries, John Heffernan, Peter Hinton, Seymour Matthews, David Weston, Guy Williams, Philip Winchester, Zoe Boyle, Naomi Capron and Melanie Jessop. The productions are designed by Christopher Oram, with lighting by Neil Austin, sound by Fergus O’Hare and music by Steve Edis.

Commenting on the plays’ West End transfer today, RSC executive director Vikki Heywood said: “We are delighted that the company is getting the chance to perform in the New London. The RSC has played in a variety of venues in the capital, including past performances at the Haymarket, Playhouse and Trafalgar Studios, amongst others. We are also continuing our five-year relationship with Cameron Mackintosh, whose theatres, including the Gielgud, Noel Coward and Novello, have recently housed the company’s London seasons to great box office success”.

Currently at the New London, Blue Man Group finishes its 19-month run on 24 June (See News, 27 Mar 2007). No interim productions have been announced for the theatre.

- by Terri Paddock