Chevalier’s 1999 historical novel was inspired by 17th-century Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer’s masterpiece of the same name (pictured). In the fictional story, Vermeer hires the teenage girl Griet to help in his house. But it’s not long before she becomes more than just a servant: she starts to help him in his studio, learning the art of painting by watching the master. And then, secretly, Vermeer begins to paint her, asking her to pose for his most famous portrait.
In the 2003 Hollywood film, Scarlett Johansson starred as Griet with Colin Firth as Vermeer. In the stage version, the parts are taken by Kimberley Nixon and Adrian Dunbar. Nixon was most recently seen on TV as Sophy Hutton in Cranford and in the current film release Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging.
Irish actor Adrian Dunbar is perhaps best known for 1991’s highly acclaimed Hear My Song, which he also co-wrote, earning a BAFTA nomination. His many other screen credits include the films My Left Foot, The Crying Game and The General and Cracker, Whistleblowers and Suspicion on television. He made his West End debut last year in Sixties sex farce Boeing-Boeing.
The cast also features Sara Kestelman (as Maria Thins), Niall Buggy (Van Ruijven) and Lesley Vickerage (Catherina), who are joined by are Maggie Service, Jonathan Bailey and Flora Spencer-Longhurst. The stage adaptation is written by David Joss Buckley, as opposed to Shelagh Stephenson, as originally announced.
The premiere production, which runs first at Cambridge Arts Theatre from 11 to 20 September 2008, is directed by Joe Dowling, with set and lighting by Peter Mumford, costumes by Fotini Dimou, sound by Matt McKenzie and original music by Christopher Gunning. It’s produced by Brian Eastman and Andrew Welch, who recently revived Shadowlands in the West End with Charles Dance and Janie Dee.
Currently at the Haymarket, Michel Legrand’s new musical Marguerite, the final production in the venue’s inaugural in-house season of work programmed and directed by Jonathan Kent, has posted early closing notices. The musical received its world premiere on 20 May 2008 (previews from 7 May) and had been due to continue until 1 November. It will now finish on 13 September.
- by Terri Paddock