Theatre News

Michael Pennington to play King Lear and Peter and the Starcatcher makes European premiere

The productions will make up part of the Royal & Derngate’s 2016 season which will also feature a new play about Marvin Gaye from Roy Williams

Michael Pennington will play King Lear
Michael Pennington will play King Lear

Peter and the Starcatcher will makes its European premiere as the Royal & Derngate's Christmas show in 2016.

The show was a hit on Broadway in 2012 and won five Tony Awards and a Drama Desk Award and became one of the most produced plays in America last year.

Luke Sheppard, who directed the recent UK hit In the Heights will direct the musical, which acts as a prequel for JM Barrie's Peter Pan and Wendy.

James Dacre, artistic director of Royal & Derngate, said of the announcement "It may be on at Christmas, but Peter and the Starcatcher is a play for all seasons so we are delighted the show will tour to venues after its life in Northampton." The national tour will be produced by Paul Taylor-Mills. Dates and cast are TBC.

The Royal & Derngate have also announced their spring/summer season, which features Michael Pennington, who will play King Lear for the first time in the UK (1-23 April). The actor has performed the role in the US previously but this will be the first time UK audiences will get to see his Lear. The production will be directed by Philip Franks and will feature an ensemble cast of 14 and run for three weeks at the Royal, before touring the UK.

Elsewhere the season includes Roy Williams play Soul (20 May – 11 June) which is about the life and early death of soul legend Marvin Gaye.

Soul has been written in close collaboration with the Gaye family and tells of the final 18 days of Gaye's life. Dacre, who will be directing Soul told WhatsOnStage: "This has been the product of many years collaboration between Roy and I. It tells the story of a family utterly committed to protection and promotion of the prodigious talents of Marvin Gaye. It's set within the pressure cooker of one home, and the framing device will depict the last 18 days of his life."

Dacre describes Soul as a play with songs: "a dramatic thriller powerered by music."

Dacre will also direct the first major revival of Peter Whelan's play The Herbal Bed (5 – 27 February) about Shakespeare's daughter. There will also be a new music-theatre production of The Tempest from Rebecca Lenkiewicz (23 June – 2 July). Caroline Steinbeis will direct this version, which is co-produced with the National Youth Theatre, and will feature an ensemble of 18-25 year-olds from across the UK.

Tim Crouch will also collaborate with company Spymonkey on a piece that stages all of Shakespeare's deaths in The Complete Deaths. "It is an anarchic, mischeivous conterpart to the rest of our Shakespeare season," said Dacre. Dacre will be bringing his production of A Tale of Two Cities back to Northampton (10-17 September).