As previously tipped (See The Goss, 16 Jul 2007), Chichester Festival’s current sell-out production of Macbeth, starring Patrick Stewart (pictured) in the title role, will transfer to the West End this autumn following its run in West Sussex. On 26 September 2007 (previews from 24 September), it starts a limited ten-week season to 1 December at the Gielgud Theatre ahead of another Chichester offering, The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, running for 66 performances over the Christmas period.
Macbeth will mark Stewart’s third Bard turn in the West End this year. Just prior to Chichester, he was at the Novello from January through to March in the Royal Shakespeare Company transfers of Antony and Cleopatra and The Tempest (See News, 25 Aug 2006). The latter was directed by Headlong artistic director Rupert Goold, who has also directed Macbeth.
The “Scottish play” opened on 1 June 2007 (previews from 25 May) at Chichester’s Minerva Theatre, where it continues until 1 September. In another double-header of Shakespeare, Stewart and the rest of the cast are also performing Twelfth Night, opening tonight (20 July, previews from 14 July) in the Festival Theatre, where it continues to 31 August as part of Chichester’s annual summer Festival season. Stewart plays bad-tempered servant Malvolio in Twelfth Night, which is directed by Philip Franks.
In Macbeth in the West End, Kate Fleetwood will reprise her performance as Lady Macbeth. Other London casting has not yet been confirmed, although it’s expected to include other Chichester principals from the 18-strong company, including Michael Feast as Macduff and Martin Turner as Banquo. The production is designed by Anthony Ward, with lighting by Howard Harrison, sound by Adam Cork, and video and movement by Lorna Heavey.
Though he’s best known internationally for his sci-fi screen roles in the likes of Star Trek and X Men, Stewart is a classically trained actor and an honorary associate artist of the RSC, where he returned last year, after a 24-year absence, to star in Antony and Cleopatra and The Tempest as part of the year-long Complete Works Festival. His other recent West End credits include Ibsen’s The Master Builder, David Mamet’s A Life in the Theatre, and his own one-man adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, for which he won the Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers’ Choice Award for Best Solo Performance.
The two-part adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic novel The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby moves into the Gielgud from 5 December 2007 to 27 January 2008, with 33 performances apiece of parts one and two. A hit at last summer’s Festival, the production returns to Chichester from 10 to 22 September and then embarks on a national tour until November. After the Gielgud, the plays transfer for a limited Canadian run at Toronto’s Princess of Wales theatre.
The epic, directed by Chichester artistic director Jonathan Church and Philip Franks, features a cast of more than 20 actors – led by Daniel Weyman in the title role - who tell the tale of Nicholas as he embarks on a thrilling journey through 1830s England. The RSC’s colossal 1980 dramatisation, by Trevor Nunn and John Caird, has gone down in theatrical lore. This updated version marked the first major revival since then (See News, 20 Feb 2006). It’s designed by Simon Higlett, with lighting by Mark Jonathan.
Both Macbeth and Nicholas Nickleby are produced in the West End by Duncan C Weldon and Paul Elliott for Triumph Entertainment Ltd, who this summer have already transferred the Chichester premiere of Roger Crane’s Vatican-set thriller The Last Confession, starring David Suchet, to the West End’s Theatre Royal Haymarket (See News, 2 Jul 2007). The Gielgud, undergoing a brief refurbishment since last month’s conclusion of Equus, became available after the screen-to-stage musical Desperately Seeking Susan’s last-minute change of venue to the larger Novello Theatre (See News, 10 Jul 2007). The Shaftesbury Avenue playhouse will remain dark until Macbeth’s opening in September.
- by Terri Paddock