Three years ago, the National Theatre, the UK’s flagship subsidised theatrical institution, announced a pioneering “first-look” arrangement with prolific Broadway producer Bob Boyett (See News, 24 Sep 2003), which has since yielded award-winning transatlantic transfers for NT productions including Jumpers, The Pillowman, Democracy, Coram Boy and, most successfully, Alan Bennett’s The History Boys.

Today, Boyett announced a similar, exclusive arrangement with another London-based producing house – the 150-seat, unsubsidised Menier Chocolate Factory (pictured) in Southwark. The first production to hit New York under this new three-year agreement will be the Menier’s five-time Olivier Award-winning Sunday in the Park with George. The production opens at New York’s Studio 54 on 18 January 2008 with its London leads, Daniel Evans and Jenna Russell, reprising the performances which won them this year’s Best Actor and Actress in a Musical Oliviers.

Boyett’s first look is also in place ahead of this summer’s world premiere of Take Flight, the highly anticipated new musical by Broadway’s Richard Maltby Jr, David Shire and John Weidman (See News, 14 May 2007). The production – which reunites Sunday’s creative team of director Sam Buntrock, designer David Farley and musical director Caroline Humphris – runs at the Chocolate Factory from 25 July (previews from 13 July) to 22 September 2007, with a cast including Sally Ann Triplett and Michael Jibson.

Commenting today, Bob Boyett said: “I’ve been associated with the Menier Chocolate Factory for almost three years because of the daring and excellent work that they produce, but this new arrangement takes our relationship even deeper. I’m very happy for the opportunity to bring the work of one of London’s newest and most exciting theatre companies to New York and can’t wait for audiences here to experience their particular brand of fresh, innovative theatre.”

Menier Chocolate Factory artistic director David Babani added: “Bob’s wealth of experience and excellent taste in producing commercial theatre makes this alliance an especially thrilling one. We look forward to many years of collaboration and camaraderie. This is an important next step in our evolution.”

Founded in January 2004, the Menier has become one London’s most celebrated theatres (See “Hot Chocolate: The Rise of the Menier”, Special Features, 2 Apr 2007). In addition to its five Oliviers for Sunday in the Park with George, theatre has won the Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers’ Choice Best Off-West End Production Awards for every one of its three years’ existence and subsequent West End transfers for every one of those productions (Fully Committed, Little Shop of Horrors and Sunday), a Critics’ Circle Award and two Evening Standard accolades, one of them for Outstanding Newcomer (the first time it was ever awarded to a building).

In addition to the aforementioned NT productions, Bob Boyett’s Broadway credits include two of this year’s Tony Award winners, Tom Stoppard’s The Coast of Utopia (seven trophies, not least Best Play) and Journey’s End (Best Revival of a Play), as well as The Drowsy Chaperone, The Woman in White, Spamalot, Glengarry Glen Ross, Fiddler on the Roof, The Goat or Who Is Sylvia?, Topdog/Underdog, Hedda Gabler, Sweet Smell of Success, The Crucible and The Elephant Man . He has also co-produced many recent West End hits including the Menier’s Little Shop of Horrors and Sunday in the Park with George, The Drowsy Chaperone, The 39 Steps, Bent, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Donkeys’ Years, The Woman in White, Boston Marriage, Lobby Hero and Spamalot.

Boyett’s continuing arrangement with the National is via Boyett Ostar Productions, along with his partner in that, Bill Haber. The NT deal has recently been extended through to summer 2008 and will this autumn effect the Broadway premiere of Conor McPherson’s The Seafarer, premiered last September at the NT Cottesloe (See News, 18 Apr 2007).

- by Terri Paddock