The National Theatre has today announced exciting plans for its 50th anniversary year, which will feature the premiere of Tori Amos musical The Light Princess, performances from stars including Simon Russell Beale, Anne-Marie Duff and Clive Rowe, and a season of shows to play in new temporary venue The Shed.
From 16 April in the Olivier theatre, Jonathan Bailey and Lyndsey Marshal will join the previously announced Adrian Lester, Rory Kinnear and Olivia Vinall in Nicholas Hytner’s production of Othello.
Without A Trace star Marianne Jean-Baptiste and Sharon D Clarke will star in Rufus Norris’ production of James Baldwin’s The Amen Corner, described by NT Director Nicholas Hytner as “a tremendous, beautifully constructed play by James Baldwin, shot through with Gospel music”, which opens in the Olivier theatre in June, while, opening later in September, The Physicists’ John Heffernan will play the title role in Edward II, which will be directed by Joe Hill-Gibbins.
Moving into 2014, multiple Olivier Award winner Simon Russell Beale will return to the Olivier theatre in January following his acclaimed performance in Timon Of Athens to take the title role in another of William Shakespeare’s tragedies King Lear, which will be directed by Skyfall director Sam Mendes.
Howard Davies’ production of Children Of The Sun will open in the Lyttelton theatre on 16 April with a cast including Lucy Black, Paul Higgins, Gerald Kyd, Emma Lowndes, Justine Mitchell and Geoffrey Streatfeild. Star of Spooks and The Thick Of It, Streatfield will lead the cast of Maxim Gorky’s darkly comic play, which has been adapted for the stage by Andrew Upton and tells the story of Protasov, a man who wants nothing more than to immerse himself in chemical experiments to perfect mankind, remaining oblivious to the voracious advances of half-crazed widow Melaniya, his best friend’s unrelenting pursuit of his wife, the cholera epidemic and the starving mob at his gates.
Simon Godwin will make his National Theatre debut later this year when he directs Duff and Charles Edwards in Eugene O’Neill’s epic Strange Interlude in June, which Hytner described as “a major event”, while, also playing in the Lyttelton theatre, former National Theatre Director Richard Eyre will direct Tanya Ronder’s new adaptation of Luigi Pirandello’s Liolà, which opens in August.
Featuring music and lyrics by Cornflake Girl singer Amos and a book and lyrics by Samuel Adamson, new musical The Light Princess, loosely based on the Scottish fairy tale by George MacDonald, will open in the Lyttelton theatre in October. Directed by War Horse’s Marianne Elliott, the cast will include Rowe and Rosalie Craig.
The Lyttelton theatre will also welcome Melly Still’s production of Georg Kaiser’s From Morning To Midnight, which has been adapted for the stage by writer of Matilda The Musical and Utopia Dennis Kelly, and plays from November.
The National Theatre has also announced a season of shows for a new temporary venue situated in Theatre Square, for which there will be 225 tickets available at £12 to £20.
The venue, which will be known as The Shed, will, Hytner said, feature a “much fuller and more experimental repertoire than we’ve been able to do in the Cottesloe”. The temporary structure, which will be taken down when building work is finished on the NT’s third space, which itself closes in four weeks before reopening as the Dorfman theatre, cost £1.8 million to build. Rather than dipping into the NT Future pot, which is now just £9 million away from the £70 million target that will allow the Southbank venue to complete its planned improvements, the NT found the money from the profits of War Horse’s successful run in New York.
The Shed kick starts its season in April with Table, a piece created by Norris and Ronder described by season curator Ben Power as “a rough epic”. It is in May followed by Bullet Catch, Rob Drummond’s narrative driven magic show that played at the Edinburgh Fringe last year.
The Shed’s season will also include a new play by Constellations playwright Nick Payne, puppetry based performance for younger children The Elephantom, which will be co-directed by Elliott, Finn Caldwell and Toby Olié, a new play by Tim Price directed by Polly Findlay, Debbie Tucker Green’s self-directed play nut and a verbatim piece of theatre devised and directed by Nadia Fall that explores social housing in London and, according to Power, “follows on from the enormous impact of London Road, testing the boundaries of documentary theatre”.
The announcement of the new season comes following a number of successful stories for the Southbank venue, with the recent extension of The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time at the Apollo theatre, the West End transfer of Alan Bennett’s critically acclaimed double-bill Hymn and Cocktail Sticks and James Graham’s This House transferring to the Olivier theatre.
Though the new season does not nod to the Southbank venue’s illustrious history, the benchmark anniversary will be marked with a one-off performance about which Hytner was staying tight-lipped, though he would commit to saying it would be a celebration of the venue’s performers and landmark productions, and would be screened on BBC2.