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Sondheim Saturday Moves to Arts for Three Weeks

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Trevor Nunn’s Menier Chocolate Factory revival of A Little Night Music isn’t the only Stephen Sondheim musical transferring to the West End this month. The same week that A Little Night Music starts performances at the Garrick Theatre, Sondheim’s Saturday Night, which has just finished a sell-out five weeks at the Fringe’s Jermyn Street Theatre (See News, 20 Aug 2008), will reopen at the Arts Theatre for a limited three-week season from 25 March to 11 April 2009.

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? runner-up Helena Blackman stars in this first UK revival of the American composer/lyricist’s rarely seen first Broadway show, a musical comedy written in 1954 when Sondheim was just 24. Based on the Julius and Philip Epstein play Front Porch in Flatbush, Saturday Night centres on a group of friends in 1929 New York just before the Wall Street Crash.

Saturday Night is directed by Tom Littler, who is also acting as resident director for the West End transfer of A Little Night Music. It’s produced by Primavera Productions, the company founded by Littler and producer Chantelle Staynings to revive neglected plays, operas and musicals. The Saturday Night cast also includes David Ricardo-Pearce, Joanna Hickman and Charlie Cameron. Musical direction is by Tom Attwood.

Though written in 1954, the planned 1955 Broadway premiere of Saturday Night was cancelled when producer Lemuel Ayers died, leaving the piece unperformed professionally until 1997, when it had its world premiere at London’s Bridewell Theatre. This new production includes the UK premiere of two songs - “Montana Chem” and “Delighted, I’m Sure” - written by Sondheim when he revised the piece for its Off-Broadway premiere in 1999.

Currently at the Arts, Gardner McKay’s thriller Toyer, the inaugural production at the recently refurbished and reopened theatre, finishes its shortened run this Saturday 21 March (See News, 11 Mar 2009).

- by Terri Paddock


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