Sheffield Theatre set for momentous new year

Carly Bawden as Eliza Doolittle.
Carly Bawden as Eliza Doolittle.
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AS it is crowned Regional Theatre of the Year for 2012, the signs are that Sheffield Theatres can anticipate a momentous 2013.

In the Lyceum Theatre Sheffield Theatres’ world première production of Simon Beaufoy’s The Full Monty opening at the Lyceum in February has generated excitement in its home city – and a rush at the box office, while tickets for the remainder of the run to the end of January for the Crucible’s hit musical My Fair Lady have all been snapped up and there is clamour for it to transfer to the West End.

The accolade for Sheffield Theatres came in the annual awards run in conjunction with The Stage 100, the theatre business paper’s yearly analysis of the most influential movers and shakers in the industry.

Sheffield Theatres, which comprises the Crucible, the Lyceum and the Studio Theatres, was praised for the range and quality of both its in-house productions and its programming of touring shows.  The award (won last year by Chichester Festival Theatre) will be presented at The Stage’s New Year Party at the New London Theatre on January 25.

Sheffield Theatres’ artistic director, Daniel Evans,  and chief executive Dan Bates were also ranked in the top 20 of The Stage 100, a list of the most influential people in the performing arts.

Daniel Evans expressed his delight. “It has been an extraordinary 12 months for us and this award is a testament to the loyalty and support of our audiences, the dedication of our actors and creative teams, the commitment of our partners and of course, the passion of our staff.  I can’t think of a better way to begin a new year.”

Could that be followed by My Fair Lady carrying the flag for the Crucible in the West End? The Stage profile of Evans and Bates says “you wouldn’t bet against it.”

“It’s just talk,” insisted Evans who directed the production. “It’s true there’s been a lot of interest but there’s nothing firm yet. I would love it to happen but there are a whole lot of factors. We will probably know more in a few weeks.”

The cast availability, particularly Dominic West, extending the rights for the show and finding a vacant theatre would need to fall into place.

The citation for Regional Theatre of the Year mentioned last year’s transfer to London of Democracy from the Michael Frayn season among highlights which also included Macbeth, Company and the collaboration with Paines Plough on three new plays in the Crucible Studio. It also looks forward to a new musical, This is My Family, starring Sian Phillips coming in the summer.

“Despite funding cuts from both its local authority and Arts Council England in recent years, the judges felt that Sheffield Theatres continue to produce exemplary shows, serving a local and national audience that greatly values its work,” it concluded.