A decade after the Peter Hall Company left the Old Vic, then being put up for sale and facing an uncertain future (See News, 13 Feb 1998), it will return to the revitalised West End theatre, now under the artistic directorship of Kevin Spacey. Hall’s own revival of George Bernard Shaw’s 1916 classic Pygmalion will transfer to the Old Vic next summer, running for a limited season from 15 May (previews from 7 May) to 2 August 2008.

The production was first seen last July at the Theatre Royal Bath (See News, 12 Mar 2007), where Hall’s company has had an annual summer residency for the past five years. Original stars Tim Pigott-Smith and Michelle Dockery (pictured) will reprise their roles as phonetics professor Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle, the cockney flower girl he transforms into a duchess.

Pigott-Smith appeared alongside Kevin Spacey in The Iceman Cometh at the Old Vic in 1998. His many other stage credits include Mourning Becomes Electra, Women Beware Women, Julius Caesar, Sherlock Holmes and, in the West End last year, See How They Run. On screen, he’s best known for The Jewel in the Crown on television; his films include V for Vendetta, Gangs of New York and Remains of the Day.

Dockery’s credits include Dying for It and Pillars of the Community on stage and Fingersmith on TV. Also returning to the cast are Tony Haygarth (as Alfred Doolittle), Pamela Miles (Mrs Eynsford Hill) and Una Stubbs (Mrs Pearce). The production is designed by Simon Higlett, with costumes by Christopher Woods, lighting by Peter Mumford and sound by Gregory Clarke.

In 1973, Peter Hall became successor to Laurence Olivier as the artistic director of the nascent National Theatre, then operating at the Old Vic before moving to its custom-built South Bank home. In 1997, he returned with his own Peter Hall Company and a season of plays including Waiting for Godot, Waste and The Seagull.

Hall commented today: “The Old Vic is a wonderful theatre which has figured large in my professional life – from seeing plays there in my youth, to the early days of my directorship of the National Theatre; and then some 25 years later being in residence there with my own company.” Spacey added that he was particularly exciting about “welcoming Peter Hall back to the Old Vic”.

The Pygmalion dates replace the cancelled run of Hamlet and The Tempest, the inaugural productions in the three-year Bridge Project between the Old Vic, the Brooklyn Academy of Music and director Sam Mendes (See News, 20 Jul 2007).

- by Terri Paddock