Theatre News

Open Air Unveils 2010 Season, Miller’s Crucible

As the Open Air Theatre concludes this summer season this weekend with the final performances of Jerry Herman musical Hello, Dolly!, the highest-grossing production in the theatre’s history and tipped for a West End transfer (See The Goss, 21 Aug 2009), it’s already getting a jump on next summer by pre-announcing its 2010 programme.

In his third season as artistic director, Timothy Sheader will continue to expand the repertoire at the home of the New Shakespeare Company by including plays by writers other than the Bard. This July, Sheader revived Oscar Wilde’s 1895 comedy The Importance of Being Earnest (See News, 9 Jan 2009). The first non-Shakespeare play at the 1,240-seat theatre in recent history, Irina Brown’s production played to 96.5% capacity, breaking box office records.

Next year, Arthur Miller’s 1953 drama The Crucible will launch the season, playing for a longer, straight run of performances from 24 May to 19 June 2010. The 2010 programme will also comprise, on the Shakespeare front, the first Park production of A Comedy of Errors (24 June to 31 July) in 14 years and a children’s version of Macbeth (3 to 25 July, in rep), and on the usual musical front, a revival of Stephen Sondheim’s 1989 Broadway classic Into the Woods.

Sheader himself will direct The Crucible, which is set in 1692 in Massachusetts and centres on the reign of terror unleashed during the Salem witchcraft trials. Miller famously wrote the play as a thinly veiled response to the 20th-century “anti-American” communist witch-hunts of Senator Joseph McCarthy. The last major West End outing of the play was at the Gielgud Theatre in 2006 care of the Royal Shakespeare Company, in a multi Olivier Award-winning production directed by Dominic Cooke and starring Iain Glen as John Proctor.

Sheader will also direct Into the Woods, the final production in the next Open Air season. Well-known storybook characters Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood and Rapunzel are joined by a new creation, the tale of The Baker and His Wife, in the musical, which brings a dark and contemporary adult view to the childhood idea of “happily ever after”. Composer and lyricist Sondheim and book writer James Lapine also collaborated on Passion and Sunday in the Park with George.

Public booking for the 2010 Open Air season opens on Monday 1 December 2009. No casting or further creative details have yet been announced.