As previously tipped (See The Goss, 27 Sep 2005), Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II’s classic Broadway musical Show Boat will be staged at the Royal Albert Hall for a strictly limited season of 18 performances only from 10 June to 25 June 2006.

Triple Olivier Award-winning international opera and theatre director Francesca Zambello will direct. Her American debut took place at the Houston Grand Opera with a production of Fidelio in 1984. She debuted in Europe at Teatro la Fenice in Venice with Beatrice di Tenda in 1987 and has since staged new productions at major theatres and opera houses in Europe, America and in the UK, including at prestigious venues such as the Royal Opera House and the Royal National Theatre. She was recently awarded the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres by the French government for her contribution to French culture and the Russian Federation's medal for Service to Culture.

The new production of Show Boat marks the first ever fully-staged musical in the round at the Royal Albert Hall. Premiered on Broadway in 1927, this groundbreaking musical was considered the first musical of the modern era, dealing not only with passion and flamboyance but also with racial prejudice, poverty and abandonment.

Based on the novel by Edna Ferber, the story follows the lives and loves of a song and dance troupe. At the Royal Albert Hall, a large company with two choruses will be joined by 65 musicians from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra for Zambello’s production.

Show Boat was last seen in the West End in 1998 when Hal Prince’s Tony Award-winning Broadway revival transferred for a short season at the Prince Edward Theatre (See News, 6 Jul 1998).

The Albert Hall production is co-presented by Raymond Gubbay. It is designed by Peter J Davison with costumes by Sue Willmington, choreography by Arthur Pita, lighting by Andrew Bridge and sound by Bobby Aitken. The musical director is David Charles Abell.

- by Caroline Ansdell