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Hampstead stages Chariots of Fire ahead of Olympics

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Hampstead Theatre will stage an adaptation of the Oscar-winning 1981 film Chariots of Fire as part of its new season, which was announced today by artistic director Edward Hall.

Chariots of Fire, which is adapted by Mike Bartlett and directed by Hall, runs from 9 May to 16 June 2012 ahead of the forthcoming London Olympics.

Billed as “one of the most thrilling Olympic stories”, it centres on two great athletes - Eric Liddell and Harold Abrahams (played in the film by Ian Charleson and Ben Cross) - outsiders who overcame prejudice and personal strife to compete in the 1924 Paris Olympics.

Award-winning designer Miriam Buether (who worked on Bartlett’s Earthquakes in London) will “transform” the theatre into its very own stadium, giving an “immersive experience that evokes the 1924 Olympics”.

The production will also feature the music of the legendary Vangelis score with additional live music and arrangements by Tony Award winning composer Jason Carr.

Writer Mike Bartlett’s previous plays include Earthquakes in London for Headlong Theatre, 13 for the National, Love, Love, Love for Paines Plough (soon to be staged at the Royal Court), Contractions, My Child and the Olivier Award-winning Cock at the Royal Court, and Artefacts at the Bush. He is currently Writer-in-Residence at the National Theatre.

Druid and Propeller return, first opera

Opening the season in the main house, from 17 to 27 April 2012, will be the opera Jacob Lenz, staged in a co-production with ENO to mark composer German composer Wolfgang Rihm’s 60th birthday.

The production, which marks Hampstead Theatre’s first opera staging, will be directed by award-winning opera director Sam Brown and star the “extraordinary 'chameleon' actor-singer” Andrew Shore.

It’s followed by the return of Tony Award-winning company Druid, who will present DruidMurphy – a major retrospective of the work of Irish dramatist Tom Murphy – from 23 to 30 June (previews from 20 June), as part of the London 2012 Festival.

DruidMurphy is an “epic tale of Irish emigration spanning 1846 – 1980”. Crossing oceans and spanning decades the trilogy, with a company of 17 actors, is directed by Garry Hynes.

Rounding off the season in the main house, from 6 to 21 July (previews from 3 July), is Propeller’s Henry V and The Winter’s Tale, directed by Edward Hall.

It marks a return to Hampstead for the company following last year’s Whatsonstage.com Award-nominated Richard III and The Comedy Of Errors.

Henry V promises to move “from the corridors of Westminster to the fields of France in an evening of unforgettable power”, while The Winter’s Tale is a re-visiting of Propeller’s 2005 production.

Meanwhile in the Hampstead Theatre Downstairs, the new writing season will feature the premieres of Nigel Gearing's Blue Heart Afternoon (5 April-12 May), a comedy set in 1950s Hollywood, and Nick Whitby's The Complaint (17 May-16 June), a play that "pits the obstinate complaint maker against the full force of bureaucracy".

Edward Hall said: “I am delighted to announce a new season of major theatrical events for Hampstead Theatre which reflects our ambition to give memorable evenings in the theatre in what promises to be a memorable year for us all.”


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