The two main house productions – in the Crucible and Lyceum Theatres - will be helmed by two of Sheffield’s young directors, Nikolai Foster and Ellie Jones. On 13 November 2007, following previews from 7 November, Foster will direct a revival of Peter Shaffer’s 1979 play Amadeus at the Crucible, while Jones directs Bernard Pomerance’s 1977 play The Elephant Man in the Lyceum from 21 February 2008.
Set in 18th-century Vienna, Amadeus explores the relationship between the obsessive Austrian Court composer Antonio Salieri and his meteoric young rival Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Since its National Theatre premiere, the part of Salieri has been played by the likes of Paul Scofield, Ian McKellen, David Suchet and, last year at Wilton’s Music Hall, on stage, while Mozart has been played by actors including Simon Callow, Tim Curry and Michael Sheen. Milos Forman’s Oscar-winning 1984 film version starred F Murray Abraham and Tom Hulse.
Nikolai Foster’s directing credits include Bollywood Jane (West Yorkshire Playhouse), Dead Funny (Oldham Coliseum and tour) and, at the Crucible, Assassins and A Chorus Line. Amongst Shaffer’s other plays are The Royal Hunt of the Sun, revived last year at the National, and Equus, which recently finished a West End run with Daniel Radcliffe and Richard Griffiths.
The Elephant Man is based on the life of John Merrick, who became infamous for the extreme deformity of his body. A freak attraction, who has been travelling around in side-shows, Merrick is left abandoned and alone because he is deemed a public indecency. It too was made into a film, in 1980, directed by David Lynch and starring John Hurt as Merrick with Anthony Hopkins as his doctor.
Ellie Jones was resident director at Sheffield Theatres for the 2006/7 season. She directed last season’s critically acclaimed production of Fin Kennedy’s How to Disappear Completely and Never Be Found in the Studio. Following its run at Sheffield, which ends on 8 March 2008, The Elephant Man will embark on a national tour.
In the Studio, Sheffield Theatres will produce The Ugly Duckling in association with Nottingham Playhouse Roundabout. Written by Neil Duffield and directed by Karen Simpson, this new version of the classic tale - based on the Hans Christian Anderson stories – promises to include puppets, song and dance. Designs are by Laura McEwen, music by Matt Marks and lighting by Gary Longfield. It opens on 5 December for a run until 22 December 2007.
Meanwhile, in the Lyceum, pantomime Cinderella, written and directed by Paul Hendy, in a co-production with Evolution Productions, will have a Christmas engagement from 13 December 2007 to 12 January 2008. The production stars Hayley Tammadon, from Emmerdale, former Blue Peter presenter Matt Baker, Ryan Moloney, best known as Toadfish in Neighbours and Any Dream Will Do finalist Rob McVeigh.
- by Jake Brunger & Terri Paddock