Plenty to ignite a passion for the stage

Lynda Bellingham.
Lynda Bellingham.

A MAJOR revival of Kay Mellor’s A Passionate Woman with Lynda Bellingham in the title role and a production of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale feature in the new season announced by Sheffield Theatres.

The award-winning writer and director from Leeds will be making her Sheffield Theatres debut directing her play, A Passionate Woman, which was adapted for TV in 2010.

Lynda Bellingham plays doting mother Betty who is hiding in the attic on the the morning of her son’s wedding to escape her unappreciative husband and the reality of an empty nest. Surrounded by happy memories and mementos, Betty relives her youth and a passionate love affair with a man she might have married.

The Loose Women star, last in Sheffield on tour with Calendar Girls, will be opposite her All Creatures Great and Small co-star Christopher Timothy as the husband Donald.

A Passionate Woman is the second co-production between Sheffield Theatres and David Pugh and Dafydd Rogers following The Full Monty this year and shares many of the creative team in. It will also have designer Robert Jones, lighting designer Tim Lutkin and associate director Jack Ryder. Like The Full Monty it will also go on a national tour after premiering in Sheffield from September 10-21.

In the Crucible there will be a new production of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale from October 2 to November 2. Sheffield Theatres associate director Paul Miller will reunite with his team from current production The Daugher-in-Law, designer Simon Daw, lighting designer Mark Doubleday and composer Terry Davies.

In the Studio, the theatre will collaborate with Sheffield Hallam University on the world première of Jack Steele and Family from July 12-20. A hilarious and moving play about the ties between Jack Steele, his family and Sheffield’s industrial heritage.

Earlier in the summer the Lyceum Theatre has a busy programme of touring musicals, drama, children’s shows and comedy.

In May, the Old Vic’s smash hit production of Michael Frayn’s backstage farce Noises Off takes to the stage after its critically-acclaimed sell-out run in London. Later in the same month, Northern Spirit, in association with Sheffield Theatres, Northern Stage, the Unity Theatre, New Writing North and the Royal Exchange Theatre present A Wondrous Place, four brand new short stories about four Northern cities: Sheffield, Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle.

This is followed in by the return of Lee Hall’s The Pitmen Painters (June 3-8) and a new stage version of the classic TV comedy, Rising Damp (June 24-29). High Society, Cole Porter’s timeless musical, arrives on June 11-15 June and then Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s old favourite, Evita, with Marti Pellow as Che skips into town for a two-week run from July 1. Family audiences can enjoy Birmingham Stage Company’s James and The Giant Peach (June 18-21), and pre-school ages can enjoy their TV favourites live on stage with Dora the Explorer (May 28-30) and Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom (August 2-3).

Casting for two Crucible spring productions has also been announced.

In Alan Bennett’s award-winning play, The History Boys (May 16 to June 8), Matthew Kelly, much-loved presenter of Stars in Their Eyes but remembered in Sheffield for an acclaimed performance as Lennie in Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men back in the Eighties, will appear as Hector alongside Nicholas Day as the Headmaster. Michael Longhurst directs the production which sees the play staged in the city where it is set.

Artistic director Daniel Evans will direct a new musical comedy by Tim Firth, This Is My Family (June 19 - July 20). Distinguished Welsh actress Siân Phillips leads the company alongside Bill Champion, Evelyn Hoskins, Terence Keeley and Rachel Lumberg. This production is being supported by law firm Hill Dickinson who are funding new writing and projects at Sheffield Theatres.