The new year at the Everyman and Playhouse will begin with one of its strongest-sounding seasons in quite a while. Today the theatres revealed what is coming up in 2015, and with a stylish mix of classic, modern, modern classic and hidden gems, it looks like it will be hard to stay away.
First up is major revival of Willy Russell’s Educating Rita, another fine choice to be directed by the E&P’s own Gemma Bodinetz. The production will kick off the season, mark the play’s 35th anniversary and will star Leanne Best as Rita and Con O’Neill as Frank.
And how time flies – the Everyman will celebrate its first birthday of its new build with a Shakespeare production, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by new associate director Nick Bagnall – a return to the Bard after choosing Twelfth Night as the first play to open the new theatre.
The second half of the season is marked by two world premières, both screen-to-stage adaptations; a never-before seen Arthur Miller screenplay The Hook at the Everyman and the first ever stage adaptation of a Coen Brothers’ film will see The Hudsucker Proxy come to life on the Playhouse stage.
Artistic Director Gemma Bodinetz said: “This season is an extraordinary cocktail of the familiar, reinvigorated. Whether that’s a classic play, a celebrated playwright or a much loved film, we hope each of our in-house productions feels fresh and newly-minted. We are thrilled to be co-producing for the first time with two of the most ambitious and exciting regional theatres in the country and on a personal note to be directing my first Willy Russell play in his home city with two extraordinary Liverpool actors is both an honour and a joy.”
Willy Russell said: “I’m really delighted to be back at the Playhouse, a theatre with which I’ve had such a long and fulfilling association. I’m equally delighted to be working with Gemma Bodinetz and the great cast she has assembled – both Leanne Best and Con O’Neill are superb actors and it’s a real pleasure to have them perform the play here in Liverpool where both their – and my – careers began.”
The world première of The Hudsucker Proxy will be a new stage adaptation of the classic 1994 Coen Brothers’ film. It has been adapted by Simon Dormandy and will be co-directed by Dormandy and Toby Sedgwick (War Horse, The 39 Steps), in a co-production with Southampton’s Nuffield. Set in 1958, the plot puts big business and corruption under the microscope to hilarious effect, as the board of directors of Hudsucker Industries attempt to take over the company and make a killing on the stock market.
Amidst the political tensions of 1950s America, Arthur Miller’s The Hook was suppressed by the FBI for fear that it could cause unrest in New York’s dockyards. To mark the centenary of the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright’s birth, Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse and Royal & Derngate, Northampton will co-produce the world première of Miller’s ‘play for the screen’ adapted for the stage by Emmy Award-winning Ron Hutchinson (Moonlight and Magnolias, Tricycle; Rat in the Skull, Royal Court), directed by James Dacre. The story of a close-knit community grappling with a world of crime and punishment, of changing industry and immigration from abroad, The Hook is a study in integrity and betrayal, charting one man’s struggle for meaningful change.
The company’s commitment to talent development will be seen this year in the first commission from the theatres’ Ignition Artist initiative – set up through parallel fundraising during the Everyman redevelopment to fund the artists of the future. Cartoonopolis is the debut play by Lewis Bray a graduate of Young Everyman Playhouse (YEP) which will be performed in the Playhouse Studio. Lewis also performs this one-man show about the imaginary cartoon world created by his autistic brother in this funny and touching portrayal of family life.
The theatres will continue to reflect their time and place with a series of plays that resonate with our society now. Headlong’s The Absence of War is a stinging political drama on a timely national tour during the build up to the 2015 General Election, Out of Joint’s Crouch, Touch, Pause, Engage tells the story of about Welsh rugby legend Gareth Thomas and his home town of Bridgend. 20 Stories High’s new play, Black, digs deep at the heart of racial tensions in the UK today.
The Playhouse will mark both World Wars with adaptations of acclaimed novels. Birdsong based on the world famous novel by Sebastian Faulks is a mesmerising story of love and courage set both before and during the Great War. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, based on the best-selling novel by John Boyne, is a deeply moving and thought provoking set during World War II.
Classic plays will also be reinvigorated as Northern Broadsides presents King Lear, directed by Jonathan Miller with Barrie Rutter in the title role. The accessibility of the new Everyman will allow Graeae to tour their production of Lorca’s Blood Wedding to Liverpool, while Filter present a playful, kaleidoscopic, horrific and radical version of Macbeth.
For dance audiences Northern Ballet will present three works, Madame Butterfly, Perpetuum Mobile and for young people The Elves and the Shoemaker, Phoenix Dance return with a mixed bill and Fuel Theatre will bring The Spalding Suite, a new dance theatre show inspired by the UK’s basketball culture.
The theatres will also be filled with comedy and poetry this spring, Philip Wilson directs The Three Lions, the story of the FA’s failed World Cup bid, John Graham Davies’s Beating Berlusconi will be staged at the Everyman on the 10th anniversary of Liverpool’s Champions League victory, celebrated author Simon Armitage will present poems from his latest book, younger audiences will be tickled by The Cat in the Hat and musical comedy duo Rubberbandits bring Continental Fistfight.