Set amidst the opulence and splendour of 18th century Vienna, Amadeus explores the rivalry between the composer Antonio Salieri, once exalted as the most famous composer in a city of musicians, and the young, wayward upstart, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It's blazing human ambition pitted against heavenly genius, in what becomes a battle of life and death.
David Suchet leads the cast as 'Salieri'. Suchet is fresh from the Chichester Festival production of Saturday, Sunday...and Monday and appeared recently in the Almeida's West End production of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. Other stage credits include David Mamet's Oleanna at the Royal Court. On television, he is well known for his portrayal of Agatha Christie's Inspector Poirot.
Michael Sheen, the RSC's most recent Henry V, is the ingenue 'Mozart'. Sheen has appeared in several films, including Wilde in which he played 'Robert Ross'. Lucy Whybrow plays Mozart's wife, 'Constanze'. Others in the twenty-strong cast include Peter Blythe, Christopher Benjamin, Karl Johnson and Charles Kay.
Peter Hall, whose repertory company was previously in residence at the Old Vic and is now at the Piccadilly, directed the world premiere of Amadeus at the National Theatre in 1979. That original production transferred to Broadway where it ran for 1,181 performances.
In 1984, Milos Forman directed and co-scripted with Peter Shaffer a film version of Amadeus, starring Tom Hulse as 'Mozart' and F. Murray Abraham as 'Salieri', which became an international success. It won Academy Awards for both picture and script, adding to the Tony and Evening Standard Awards already won by the stage play.
Shaffer's other plays include Equus, The Royal Hunt of the Sun and The Gift of the Gorgan. His 1965 one-act farce Black Comedy is currently running as a double bill with Tom Stoppard's The Real Inspector Hound at the Comedy Theatre.
Amadeus is designed by William Dudley with lighting by Hugh Vanstone and sound by Matt McKenzie. It is produced by PW Productions and Majellan Entertainment in association with Bill Kenwright.
The Old Vic, up for sale for the past year, was recently saved by a specially-established charitable trust which bid £3.5m to save the theatrical landmark from commercial development.