Warren Pillowman & Piazza Open Leicester Curve
The production runs in Leicester, ahead of a possible London transfer, from 11 February to 7 March 2009 (previews from 5 February) as part of the inaugural season at Curve, the new £61 million, state-of-the-art theatre complex which opens this December as the replacement for the Leicester Haymarket, which closed in January 2007 (See News, 4 Jun 2008).
Other in-house highlights of the new season, announced by artistic director Paul Kerryson today (2 September 2008) at a press conference in London (See Also Today\'s Photo Story), include the European premiere of Adam Guettel’s six-time, Tony Award-winning 2005 Broadway musical The Light in the Piazza, a new production of As You Like It directed by Tim Supple and, as previously announced, Grant Olding and Toby Davies’ world premiere musical Simply Cinderella, directed and choreographed by Adam Cooper.
In The Pillowman, Marc Warren takes on the role of Katurian, originated at the National Theatre by David Tennant and played on Broadway by Hollywood’s Billy Crudup. A writer in a totalitarian state, Katurian is interrogated about the gruesome content of his short stories and their similarities to a number of child-murders that are happening in his town.
Speaking today, Warren said that, while he finds the prospect of making his stage comeback terrifying, he decided, “if I was going to go back on stage, I wanted it to be something that made a statement … an impact”. He promised that, in this new production of McDonagh’s controversial play, they’d do “anything to make it uncomfortable for the audience”, who will have to pass a police checkpoint before entering the auditorium, where seats will be hidden and only revealed as part of the performance.
The production is directed by Kerryson, who gave Warren one of his first professional jobs, in the ensemble of the 1987 tour of Godspell and directed him five times at the Haymarket in the 1990s. Warren was born and raised in nearby Northampton.
Curve’s inaugural programme launches with Simply Cinderella, which runs from 9 December 2008 (previews from 4 December) to 24 January 2009. Former Royal ballet principal Adam Cooper, who previously appeared at the Haymarket in On Your Toes and Singin’ in the Rain, makes his directorial debut with the production. The musical gives the classic fairy tale a modern twist, portraying Cinderella as a shoe factory worker magically transported back to the 1930s where she meets the prince of rhythm. It’d designed by Francis O\'Connor who, said Cooper, is “very excited about using this space for the first time”.
In the new year, The Pillowman is followed, from 3 to 28 March 2009 (previews from 26 February) by As You Like It, who was Whatsonstage.com Award-nominated for his take on A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Roundhouse last year. Speaking today, Supple said that one of the great tests of a theatre is “how well it houses the intimate rigours of classical work” and that he was looking forward to “stripping bare” physically and poetically the new Curve space to explore the “precise delights and subtlety” of As You Like It.
Paul Kerryson’s European premiere production of The Light in the Piazza runs from 5 to 23 May 2009 (previews from 30 April). Set in Florence in the 1950s, it tells the story of young American tourist Clara who falls in love with Italian Fabrizio, but the romance is opposed by Clara’s mother Margaret. The musical has a book by Craig Lucas and music and lyrics by Adam Guettel. The production marks a breakthrough for Guettel, the son of Richard Rodgers who, while well established in New York, has only previously had one professional production in the UK (Floyd Collins at London’s Bridewell Theatre in 1999).
In addition to the above in-house offerings, there will be co-productions of in-i (5 to 7 February), Juliette Binoche and Akram Khan’s new dance theatre piece (See News, 4 Jul 2008); dark comedy The Moon the Moon with Unlimited Theatre (17 to 21 March); and Rani Moorthy’s Indian journey drama Dancing within Walls with Rasa Productions (26 March to 4 April); as well as a large-cast community staging of the first part of Nicholas Wright’s adaptation of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials (13 to 18 July).
In future, Kerryson aims for some 70% of Curve’s year-round programme to be comprised of in-house productions and co-productions. Commenting on the inaugural nine-month schedule, he said: “Curve’s first season of shows plays to the strengths of our unique theatre, with a truly exciting body of work that puts the classical and contemporary side-by-side. We hope to create a destination for everyone, from audience to artist, as we make the first step in our creative journey together.”
Designed by architect Rafael Vinoly, the glass-facaded, five-storey Curve houses two auditoria - one with up to 800 fixed seats and the other with a versatile 400 seats – which can be opened out into one. When the 32-tonne steel walls separating the stage and the foyer are lifted, the stage will also be visible from street level. Curve is a partnership project led by Leicester City Council, with Leicester Theatre Trust and Phoenix Arts as contributing partners. It’s the successor to the Leicester Haymarket, which was founded in 1973 and closed in January 2007.
The new building was originally due to be completed, with an estimated price tag of £32 million, in 2005, but construction was delayed and costs mushroomed when the City Council opted to spend more on the unique glass front that exposes the inner-workings of the venue and theatre-making to passers-by. Ruth Eastwood, chief executive of Leicester Theatre Trust, said today that in addition to offering a warm welcome to the diverse local population, the aim with Curve is to present “as many and different artistic events as possible”. The theatre, employing 69 full-time staff, sits at the centre of Leicester’s new St George’s cultural quarter, part of an ongoing city-wide regeneration programme.
- by Terri Paddock