The Open Air Theatre also announced that their 2010 season had been the most successful in the theatre’s history with more than 142,000 visitors for their sixteen-week run. Their production of Sondheim's fairy tale musical Into the Woods was also record breaking, taking £1.2 million at the box office for their five week run - the theatre's highest ever grossing production. The rest of the season was also a success, with The Comedy of Errors becoming the highest-attended Shakespeare play presented at the Regent's Park venue.
Opening the season on 25 May (previews from 19 May 2011), the team behind last year's production of The Crucible, will stage Lord Of The Flies, adapted for the stage from William Golding’s classic novel by Nigel Williams and directed by artistic director Timothy Sheader. Telling the story of a group of schoolboys stranded on a desert island, what starts as an adventure becomes a struggle for survival as superstition and immorality sees the community slide into a darkly sinister world. The production promises to rediscover the story in the "unparalleled atmosphere of theatre in the open air". The production will run until 18 June 2011.
One of the creative forces behind Notting Hill's new studio space the Print Room, Lucy Bailey directs John Gay’s original text of The Beggar’s Opera from 28 June (previews from 23 June 2011). Early music group the City Waits, led by Roddy and Lucie Skeaping, will use authentic instruments to bring the 1728 score of lewd songs and low ballads alive. Telling the story of highwayman Macheath, whose love of wine, women and song leads to hilarious consequences, the piece is set beneath the gallows of rural Tyburn, at the far end of Oxford Street. The comically corrupt satire, which will run until 23 July 2011, is designed by William Dudley.
Continuing the Open Air's series of Shakespeare plays for younger audiences Pericles will be re-imagined for everyone aged six and over, opening on 8 July (previews from 2 July) and running until 23 July 2011. The story of a young prince who takes to the high seas on a quest to discover the world, Pericles is an odyssey adventure of shipwrecks, tournaments and of love lost, and found, a journey into manhood and a celebration of family. The production will mark the first time the production has been staged at the Open Air Theatre since 1939.
The final production of the season, playing from 8 August (previews from 28 July 2011), is George and Ira Gershwin’s musical comedy, Crazy for You. Including such Gershwin classics as “I Got Rhythm”, “Someone To Watch Over Me”, “Embraceable You” and “Nice Work If You Can Get It”, the show reunites the creative team behind the multi-award winning 2009 production of Hello, Dolly!, director Timothy Sheader, choreographer Stephen Mear and designer Peter McKintosh. Gareth Valentine, the musical director of last year's Into the Woods, returns as the musical director.
The Open Air's season, which will also include a number of one-night engagements which are still to be announced, will end with the close of Crazy for You on 10 September 2011.
Speaking about the announcement of the new season Sheader said: “We’re thrilled that 2010’s success confirms that our artistic ambition is in tune with our audience. Working with first class artists and knowing that our audience is up for the ride, I am confident that we can continue to set ourselves exciting challenges for 2011 and beyond."
He was joined by the theatre's executive director, William Village, who said: “With ambitious programming and another record-breaking year, we are delighted to be introducing a new audience to the theatre. The entire team at the Open Air Theatre is proud of what we’ve achieved over the last three years, securing a significant place in the capital’s theatre landscape.”