Theatre News

Vinay Patel and The Book Thief to feature in the Octagon Theatre's reopening season

The Bolton venue will reopen this summer after extensive refurbishment

The Octagon Theatre, Bolton
The Octagon Theatre, Bolton

The Octagon Theatre's debut season as it reopens the new building will include work by Vinay Patel and Jody Picoult, it was announced today.

The Bolton venue is nearing completion on a multi-million-pound redevelopment and the purpose-built studio scheduled to open in the summer. The subsequent programme includes two world premieres and a regional premiere.

One Man, Two Guvnors will open the season and run from 3 September to 3 October. Richard Bean's farce is an adaptation of the classic Italian comedy A Servant of Two Masters. It tells of Francis Henshaw attempting to secretly juggle two jobs and keep his two guvnors apart. The Octagon's artistic director Lotte Wakeham directs the production, with a full cast and creative team to be announced.

Marvellous is a world premiere co-production with the New Vic Theatre and will run from 7 to 31 October. Originally a novel – which was made into a BAFTA award-winning film starring Toby Jones – the show tells the story of Neil 'Nello' Baldwin, who was diagnosed with a learning disability as a child and went on to perform as a registered clown. Theresa Heskins directs the show, with casting to be announced at a future date.

The venue's festive show will be the musical A Christmas Carol, which will run from 19 November to 16 January 2021. Wakeham directs the adaptation of Charles Dickens' classic story, with the writers of last year's Treasure Island – which had a book by Kate Ferguson and music and lyrics by Susannah Pearse – returning for the 2020 season.

Patel brings the regional premiere of An Adventure to the venue from 28 January to 20 February 2021. The play follows Indian husband and wife Rasik and Jyoti across seven decades and three continents, as they leave political tensions in 1950s Kenya behind and move to Britain in the 1960s. An Adventure will be directed by Kash Arshad and Wakeham, with design by 2019 Linbury Prize winner TK Hay.

The world premiere musical adaptation of Markus Zusak's novel The Book Thief closes the season from 12 March to 10 April 2021. Written by Picoult and Timothy Allen McDonald, it is set in 1930s Nazi Germany and follows young orphan Liesel as she enters a dangerous game of book thievery. Music and lyrics are by Elyssa Samsel and Kate Anderson, with a full creative team still to be announced.

Picoult said of the upcoming production: "The Book Thief, as a novel, was a blockbuster that sold over 20 million copies and deeply moved readers all over the world. Having the chance to bring it to life three-dimensionally in a world premiere musical at the Octagon is a dream for us!"

Artistic director Wakeham commented on the season: "It is a very exciting time for us as we prepare to open our new building, and I am delighted to reveal our new season which promises to appeal to audiences of all ages. We have a stellar line-up featuring some truly spectacular new works with captivating drama, wonderful family musicals, hilarious comedy and our annual festive production. I am confident there is something for everyone on our stage, and we look forward to welcoming you to the brand new reimagined Octagon this autumn."