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Opening: Bridge Project, Phedre, Orwell, King & I

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Amongst the major London openings - in the West End and further afield - this week are:

OPENING TONIGHT, Monday 8 June 2009 (previews from 30 May), Thea Sharrock’s new production of As You Like It joins the rep at Shakespeare’s Globe, with a cast including Naomi Frederick and Laura Rogers. Sharrock, who became the youngest artistic director in British theatre when she took on the role at the Southwark Playhouse in 2001, makes her Globe directing debut. Until 10 October.

ALSO TONIGHT, (previews from 3 June), Kursk, Sound & Fury’s “immersive theatrical experience” inspired by the 2000 Russian submarine disaster, opens at the Young Vic. Until 27 June.

OPENING TUESDAY, 9 June 2009 (previews from 23 May), Sam Mendes’ Bridge Project productions of The Winter's Tale and Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard open at the Old Vic, after runs in New York and internationally (See News, 30 May 2009). The Anglo-American company is led by Simon Russell Beale, Niamh Cusack, Rebecca Hall and Hollywood screen star Ethan Hawke, and the productions run in rep until 15 August 2009.

This marks the inaugural season of the Bridge Project, a three-year transatlantic venture forged between Sam Mendes, the Old Vic and New York’s Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). The seeds of the project were first sown in 2002 with Mendes’ Olivier award-winning farewell Donmar Warehouse double bill of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, with a company led by Russell Beale, which transferred to BAM for nine weeks in spring 2003.

OPENING WEDNESDAY, 10 June 2009 (previews from 8 June) Orwell: A Celebration, a month-long festival dedicated to the work of George Orwell, opens at Trafalgar Studios, with Coming up for Air, adapted by Daily Telegraph critic Dominic Cavendish and performed by comedian-turned-actor Hal Cruttenden, as its centrepiece (See News, 31 Mar 2009).

As part of the festival, which is billed as “an unprecedented theatrical homage to Orwell, marking the 60th and 70th anniversaries of the publication of Nineteen Eighty-four and Coming Up for Air”, there will also be monologue extracts of Nineteen Eighty-four, arguably Orwell’s most famous literary legacy, and two other works by the author, 1936’s Shooting an Elephant and 1931’s A Hanging. Until 4 July 2009.

ALSO ON WEDNESDAY, (previews from 26 May 2009), a new site-specific production of JM Barrie’s Peter Pan opens in a specially designed 1,100-seat tent in Kensington Gardens (See News, 26 Feb 2009).

The tent home of the new production, directed by former Almeida associate director and site-specific specialist Ben Harrison, is situated in the meadow between West Carriage Drive and the Long Water, located in the north-east of Kensington Gardens near Lancaster Gate Tube station. The rainproof pavilion also includes a bar and restaurant, and there will be picnic facilities on site. Until 30 August 2009.

** DON'T MISS our Whatsonstage.com Outing to PETER PAN on 23 July 2009 – inc FREE programme & FREE drink at our exclusive post-show cast reception! – all for £32.50!!! - click here for details!! **

ALSO ON WEDNESDAY, (previews from 25 May), Liam Steel re-imagines The Tempest for children as part of the recently opened season at the Open Air Theatre in Regent’s Park, where it continues to 2 June.

OPENING THURSDAY, 11 June 2009 (previews from 4 June), Helen Mirren takes the title role in Racine's Phedre at the National’s Lyttelton, in a version by Ted Hughes directed by Nicholas Hytner and co-starring Margaret Tyzack and Dominic Cooper.

As part of the new “NT Live” initiative, a performance will be transmitted on 25 June, live and for one time only, to 50 independent cinemas and arts centres across the UK, with a further 100 foreign venues earmarked to receive the transmission within 24 hours, depending on time differences (See News, 14 Jan 2009). Phedre continues in the Lyttelton to 27 August.

ALSO ON THURSDAY, (previews from 9 June), Sarah Grochala’s S-27 opens at the Finborough Theatre, inspired by the work of the photographer Nhem En, who photographed the inmates of Tuol Sleng prison in Cambodia under the rule of the Khmer Rouge, and by painter Van Nath who painted Pol Pot and was one of only seven survivors of Tuol Sleng.

OPENING FRIDAY, 11 June 2009 (previews from 9 June), David Harewood plays Martin Luther King in Katori Hall’s The Mountaintop at Theatre503 (See News, 28 May 2009), where it continues until 4 July 2009.

The play is set in King’s Memphis hotel room on the eve of his assassination, a night when the civil rights leader is forced to confront his past and the future of his people when a mysterious maid (Lorraine Burroughs]) visits him. Harewood is best known to theatregoers for his leading Shakespearean credits for the RSC, National and elsewhere while his many screen credits include the film Blood Diamond.

OPENING SATURDAY, 12 June 2009, Maria Friedman and Daniel Dae Kim star in a new fully staged, in-the-round production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s 1951 Broadway classic The King and I at the Royal Albert Hall (See News, 11 Sep 2009).

Directed by Jeremy Sams (The Sound of Music, Noises Off), the production has a budget of £3 million. In addition to a 75-strong acting company - including three sets of twelve children - and a 60-strong orchestra, the production features a set replete with standing pools of water, a life-size ship and other boats, and fireworks displays (See News, 5 Mar 2009). For 20 performances only, to 28 June.


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