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The Watermill reveals 2022 season with Whistle Down the Wind revival, Bleak Expectations and more

Andrew Lloyd Webber and Jim Steinman's musical is revived for the first time

The Watermill
© Eden Harrhy

Exclusive: The much-loved Watermill Theatre in Newbury has announced its full 2022 season, with programming leading right the way through to 2023.

Following the completion of the upcoming world premiere of Our Man in Havana, as covered here, will be another world premiere in the form of Bleak Expectations, courtesy of Mark Evans and adapted from his hit Radio 4 series. The mash-up of Dickens' books, directed by Caroline Leslie (Trial By Laughter) runs from 27 May to 2 July.

Danielle Pearson's new play Camp Albion will run at the Watermill from 6 to 16 July, after an initial tour of Newbury towns and villages from 15 June. It concerns the so-called "Battle of Newbury" in the 1990s, and is directed by Georgie Staight (A Christmas Carol) with design by Isobel Nicolson.

From 22 July to 10 September, the venue will stage a major revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber, Jim Steinman, Patricia Knop and Gale Edwards' Whistle Down the Wind. The show, which is based on both the 1961 film and 1959 novel of the same name, follows a group of farm children who discover a man hiding in their barn that they mistake for Christ.

When it first ran in the West End in 1998, it was notable for having a child's cast featuring the likes of Jessie J, Anne-Marie, Hannah Tointon, James Buckley, Hannah Cooper, Matthew Thomas and Jade Ewen, all of whom went on to carve out music, stage and screen careers of their own.

Tom Jackson Greaves (The Jungle Book) directs the new actor-musician revival, which will also feature young local talent. It features the hit tune "No Matter What", famously topping charts for Boyzone.

Bleak Expectations

The hit Watermill Ensemble will return in September for a new staging of Othello, co-directed by the venue's artistic director Paul Hart alongside Anjali Mehra (Brief Encounter) and featuring live music. It runs from 16 September to 15 October).

Tatty Hennessy will adapt Michael Morpurgo's The Sleeping Sword (billed as "a contemporary tale of self-discovery woven with the ancient legend of King Arthur"), running from 27 October to 5 November. Directed by Lucy Jane Atkinson with Amy Bethan Evans in the positions of dramaturg and visually impaired creative consultant, the production will see every performance use creative captioning and integrated audio description.

Across three nights from 10 to 12 November, the Watermill Youth Ensemble will present the stage adaptation of Patrick Ness' A Monster Calls (directed by Angharad Arnott Phillips), with the final show of the year being Lucy Betts' new revival of Annie Siddons' adaptation of Rapunzel, originally staged by Kneehigh in 2006 with music placed alongside the classic 17th-century Italian folk tale. It runs from 18 November to 1 January 2023.

Whistle Down The Wind

Hart and associate artistic director Abigail Pickard Price said today: "We continue to strive to create ambitious work despite the challenges we and theatres across the UK are experiencing and we remain incredibly grateful to our audiences for the support they are showing to live theatre and to the next generation of theatre makers through our fundraising campaign: Nurture."