The Old Vic’s autumn season features a return to the West End stage for Sheridan Smith, who will star in a new production of Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler.

Artistic director Kevin Spacey also announced today that Trevor Nunn's forthcoming Chichester revival of Kiss Me, Kate will transfer to the venue for a Christmas run.

Opening on 12 September 2012 (previews from 5 September), Hedda Gabler is directed by Anna Mackmin and marks the second ‘straight’ play Sheridan Smith has tackled in the West End following her Olivier Award-winning turn in Flare Path at the Theatre Royal Haymarket last year.

Smith, who plays the title role (which is often referred to as the ‘female Hamlet’), will be joined in the cast by Buffy Davis (Bertha), Anne Reid (Juliana Tesman), Adrian Scarborough (George Tesman) and Fenella Woolgar (Thea Elvsted). The production will use a new version of Ibsen’s 1890 text by acclaimed Irish playwright Brian Friel.

Set in the Norwegian home of newlyweds George and Hedda Tesman near the turn of the 20th century, Hedda Gabler reveals a passionate woman struggling in a bourgeois world that she finds devoid of excitement. Returning from her honeymoon and already bored with her marriage, Hedda becomes herself caught between the brilliant but dissolute Eilert Loevborg and the clutches of the predatory Judge Brack as a shocking path of destruction unfolds.

Hedda Gabler is followed at the Old Vic by Trevor Nunn’s revival of Cole Porter's classic musical Kiss Me, Kate, which opens on 3 December (previews from 20 November).

The production, which premieres at Chichester Festival Theatre in June, stars Adam Garcia, Clive Rowe, Hannah Waddingham, David Burt and Alex Bourne, and will run at the Old Vic until 2 March 2013.

Artistic director Kevin Spacey, who also announced today that Rob Ashford is joining the venue as an associate director, said: “It’s going to be an incredible summer in London and I am delighted to announce these new productions. Trevor Nunn is a much-loved member of The Old Vic family and I'm thrilled to welcome him back with Kiss Me, Kate, a wonderful production which I know London audiences will embrace warmly.

"I am particularly pleased to unveil our production of Hedda Gabler, such an iconic and impactful play, with Sheridan Smith in the lead. Sheridan is a wonderful actress who has rightly received acclaim for her recent work and I am sure audiences will be intrigued to see her tackle this role."

As previously announced, the Old Vic is soon to host the London transfer of Sheffield Theatres’ recent revival of Michael Frayn’s play Democracy, which runs from 15 June to the extended date of 28 July 2012.