From Frayn festival to Simm’s return

Beauty and the Beast, NORTHERN BALLET''Ashley Dixon as the Beast with Martha Leebolt as Beauty. Photo Bill Cooper.
Beauty and the Beast, NORTHERN BALLET''Ashley Dixon as the Beast with Martha Leebolt as Beauty. Photo Bill Cooper.

THE new season at Sheffield Theatres will include a season of work dedicated to playwright Michael Frayn, a major revival of Restoration Comedy The Way of the World and the return of Life on Mars star John Simm in Harold Pinter’s Betrayal.

The theatre will also co-produce with neighbouring theatre company Chol Theatre for Yorkshire’s Cultural Olympiad and in the summer will become the home of the International Student Drama Festival.

Other well known names coming to Sheffield in the spring include Henry Goodman, previously here in Fiddler on the Roof, Deborah Findlay (Cranford), Ben Lloyd-Hughes (currently to be seen in Young James Herriot on the BBC), Rebecca Lacey (May to December) and Aidan McArdle (Garrow’s Law).

First production on the Crucible stage in February is The Way of the World, a new staging by Associate Director Lyndsey Turner of William Congreve’s classic comedy about morals, money and everything in between.

The cast includes rising talent Ben Lloyd-Hughes, currently starring as Rob McAloon in BBC 1’s Young James Herriot, Deborah Findlay, Miss Tomkinson in the BBC costume drama who was previously at the theatre in The Crucible, Mike Leigh protegée Sinéad Matthews (Vera Drake and Happy-Go-Lucky) and Samuel Barnett, one of the original History Boys.

In March, following on from the success of last year’s David Hare season, the company presents a festival dedicated to another multi award-winning playwright, Michael Frayn. The festival of work will take place in each of the theatre’s spaces and includes major revivals of Copenhagen, Benefactors and Democracy as well as rehearsed readings of The Sneeze, Here, Wild Honey and extracts of his novels and columns. There will also be an In Conversation event with Frayn himself.

Copenhagen, the Tony Award-winning play based on the real-life events of two eminent scientists, brings Henry Goodman back to Sheffield following his performance in Fiddler on the Roof in 2006, which transferred to the West End following its run in Sheffield. He plays Niels Bohr alongside Geoffrey Streatfeild (Calum in the final series of Spooks) as Heisenberg in this new production in the Lyuceum by Journey’s End director David Grindley.

In the Studio, Benefactors will feature Abigail Cruttenden (Kate Weedon in Benidorm and Sean Bean’s onscreen wife in ITV’s Sharpe, also one-time offscreen wife of the Sheffield actor), Rebecca Lacey (Irene Stuart in Monarch of the Glen and Hilary in May to December) and Simon Wilson (EastEnders, Waking the Dead, Doctors).

Completing The Michael Frayn Season is Democracy, a witty, compelling Olivier Award-winning play about an inspirational man. Aidan McArdle (Silvester in Garrow’s Law), Patrick Drury (Cold Blood, Silent Witness and Inspector Morse) and Richard Hope (Malokeh in Dr Who, Holby City and EastEnders) head the cast directed in the Crucible Main House by Paul Miller.

In the Studio, the theatre will co-produce the world première of LeanerFasterStronger by Kaite O’Reilly, winner of the Ted Hughes Award for Poetry 2010, with Chol Theatre. Directed by Sheffield Theatres’ Creative Producer Andrew Loretto, this darkly-humorous and provocative piece explores the limits of what human means, and forms part of iMove, a Yorkshire Cultural Olympiad programme.

Completing the season of Sheffield Theatre’s work is Harold Pinter’s Betrayal, which sees John Simm return to Sheffield Theatres to play Jerry, following his role in Hamlet in the Crucible last year.

Full casting for the Michael Frayn Season and Betrayal will be announced in the New Year.

Meanwhile the spring season in the Lyceum Theatre includes some top touring productions.

On January 17 Paul Kerryson’s spectacular new production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I - with its score of well-known favourites such as The March of the Siamese Children, Shall We Dance, I Whistle A Happy Tune and Getting To Know You arrives - with Ramon Tikaram (Bombay Dreams) and Josefina Gabrielle from Me and My Girl at the Crucible last Christmas in the leading roles.

Other music treats include the Olivier Award-winning West End and Broadway hit Legally Blonde – The Musical (February 14-25). Save The Last Dance For Me, the follow up to jukebox hit Dreamboats and Petticoats (January 23-28) All the Fun of the Fair, starring David Essex (March 26-31), and Wonderful Town with Connie Fisher’ (May 1-5). In addition Croft House Theatre Company will be bringing the hills alive with The Sound of Music (March 13-17).

Families can set sail to Wildcat Island with Swallows and Amazons (April 4-14), a new musical production based on the classic children’s novel directed by Tom Morris (War Horse), written by Helen Edmundson (Coram Boy) with songs by Neil Hannon from The Divine Comedy.

Northern Ballet return to the Lyceum stage with their production of the timeless fairytale, Beauty & the Beast (March 20-24), fresh from its premiere in Leeds over the Christmas period. Also on the dancing front, Strictly Come Dancing favourite Brendan Cole does his stuff (February 8) and Elektro Kif, an all male cast of eight young electro dancers do some breathtaking moves (February 10-11).

Drama is represented by Propeller, returning with Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale (January 13-February 4), and another chance to see the multi award-winning An Inspector Calls (April 24-28)

Opera North, returns to Sheffield for the first time in more than five years with a revival of its sell-out production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Ruddigore (May 31-June 2).

Finally, continuing its commitment to nurturing new talent Sheffield Theatres becomes home to the International Student Drama Festival (June 22-30). Produced by the National Student Drama Festival (NSDF), this week-long event features the brightest and best new theatre-makers from across the world performing a series of live theatre, dance and music events, alongside 200 workshops and discussions by leading practitioners and actors.

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