The Invisible Man, which will run from 24 November 2010 to 13 February 2011 (previews from 12 November), makes an unusual choice for the Menier’s festive season programming slot, which has traditionally been taken by revivals of classic Broadway musicals. Previous Christmas-launched musicals - Sunday in the Park with George, A Little Night Music, La Cage aux Folles, Little Shop of Horrors and, last year, Sweet Charity - have all transferred to the West End and, in the case of the first three, Broadway as well, after their initial sell-out runs at the Menier’s 150-seat home base in Southwark, London.
The Chocolate Factory’s full autumn/winter season is as follows:
Launched in New York in 2005 and in Los Angeles in 2009, Accomplice has proved a hit in the US. It’s created, written and directed by Tom Salamon who also produces with Neil Patrick Harris, best known as an actor from US sitcoms How I Met Your Mother and Doogie Howser MD. Harris continues an association with the Menier, having previously performed in Jonathan Larson’s Tick, Tick ... Boom and directed the sleight-of-hand piece The Expert at the Card Table.
Samuel West originally invited Munby to direct him and his father in the piece at Sheffield Crucible, during his reign there as artistic director. Prior to that 2006 run, the two Wests had only appeared together in one previous stage play, English Touring Theatre’s 1997 staging of Henry IV Parts 1 and 2, in which Samuel played Hal to Timothy’s Falstaff.
Of Hill’s many other literary adaptations was his 1976 version of The Phantom of the Opera, which predated the Lloyd Webber musical. The Invisible Man will be directed by former Open Air artistic director Ian Talbot, with designs by Paul Farnsworth, costumes by Matthew Wright, lighting by Jason Taylor, sound by Gareth Owen and, critically for the subject, illusions by Paul Kieve, whose other work includes The Lord of the Rings, The Witches of Eastwick, Our House, Theatre of Blood and previous stagings of The Invisible Man.