The inaugural season of the three-year transatlantic Bridge Project, featuring Sam Mendes' productions of Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale and Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard, celebrated its UK opening at the Old Vic yesterday, (9 June 2009, previews from 23 May).

The project is a new venture forged between Sam Mendes, the Old Vic and New York’s Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). The productions, which run in rep, premiered in New York from January to March before embarking on an international tour to Singapore, New Zealand, Spain and Germany (See News, 30 May 2008). The stellar international ensemble is led by Ethan Hawke, Simon Russell Beale, Sinead Cusack and Rebecca Hall

TO SCROLL THROUGH ALL OF THE BRIDGE PROJECT's 1ST NIGHT PHOTOS,
JUST CLICK ON THE "NEXT >" LINKS BELOW THE FOLLOWING FRAME.
PHOTOS BY DAN WOOLLER FOR WHATSONSTAGE.COM.

For 1st Night Photos, our Whatsonstage.com photographer Dan Wooller was at London's Buddha Bar, where the company were joined by guests including Andrea Corr, Mark Gatiss, Alan Yentob, Jeremy Irons, Imogen Lloyd Webber and Sir Peter, Nicola, and Emma Hall lending family support to cast member Rebecca.

According to press materials, the Bridge Project “places the exchange of ideas, talents and creativity between London and New York at the heart of the process, and is borne out of Sam Mendes, Joseph V Melillo (executive producer of BAM since 1999) and Kevin Spacey’s (who has been running the Old Vic since 2004) shared desire to produce large-scale, classical theatre for international audiences.”

The Project was originally due to launch at the start of this year with Mendes directing Stephen Dillane in Hamlet and The Tempest, but those productions were called off when Dillane withdrew due to family illness (See News, 20 Jul 2007).

The Winter's Tale and The Cherry Orchard continue in rep at the Old Vic until 15 August 2009.