As previously tipped (See The Goss, 1 Aug 2007), the National Theatre’s multi award-winning production of Alan Bennett’s play The History Boys will return to the West End for another season at Wyndham’s Theatre, where it had its belated West End premiere this past January and ran until April (See News, 2 Oct 2006). Following its upcoming tour, it reopens at Wyndham’s on 20 December 2007 (nearly a year to the day after it started previews there for its last run) and is booking until 9 August 2008, with a new cast led by Desmond Barrit.

Set in the 1980s, The History Boys questions the purpose and means of education. In a school where the headmaster cares only about exam results, a bunch of excitable sixth-form boys go about their pursuit of the important things: sex, sport and a university place.

Desmond Barrit reprises his performance as unconventional English teacher Hector, which he played in the 2005 on tour and at the NT. The role was originated on stage, and in the 2006 film, by Richard Griffiths. Barrit is joined in the current cast by Elizabeth Bell, Tim Delap, Daniel Fine, Andrew Hawley, Ryan Hawley, Thomas Howes, Danny Kirrane, Alton Letto, Sam Phillips and Nathan Stewart-Jarrett.

Prior to the West End, the third UK tour of The History Boys opens on 6 September 2007 at Plymouth’s Theatre Royal before continuing regionally, until 17 November, to Truro, Cheltenham, Bath, Dublin, Blackpool, Leeds, Cambridge, Eastbourne and Newcastle (See News, 4 May 2007). Originally directed by NT artistic director Nicholas Hytner, the production is recreated by Paul Miller and designed by Paul Crowley. It’s co-produced in the West End by the National Theatre and National Angels.

The History Boys premiered at the NT Lyttelton in May 2004. Amongst its shedload of awards to date are: Best Play at the Evening Standard and Critics’ Circle Awards, Best New Play at the Olivier Awards and Best New Comedy at the Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers’ Choice Awards. In addition, Griffiths won the Best Actor prizes at the Evening Standard, Critics’ Circle and Oliviers; and Hytner won the Olivier for Best Director. On Broadway last summer, The History Boys won a total of six Tony Awards including Best Play, Best Actor in a Play for Griffiths and Best Direction of a Play for Hytner.

Currently at Wyndham’s Theatre, Alan Strachan’s revival of Somerset Maugham’s 1927 play The Letter, starring Jenny Seagrove and Anthony Andrews, finishes its limited season this Saturday 11 August 2007. It’s followed by American legend Chita Rivera’s two weeks of cabaret, Chita Sings from 10 to 23 September (See News, 27 Jul 2007). No further productions have been announced for the interim.

- by Terri Paddock