The annual Covent Garden Festival, one of the country's leading musical theatre festivals, celebrates its tenth anniversary next month with a program of premieres, new acts and new venues across central London. The festival kicks off on May 13 and continues until June 3.
Highlights of the 2000 program include two unique Gilbert and Sullivan productions mounted in heavily theme-related settings. For the first time ever, the doors of the formidable Royal Courts of Justice will open for a musical performance. The Festival's repeat production of G & S's 1875 operetta Trial by Jury, directed by Stuart Maunder with musical direction by Anne-Maree McDonald, will run in the President's Court there for 14 performances only from May 15, before moving to its more traditional home at the Bow Street Magistrates' Court from May 22.
Meanwhile, the Festival will make another first by going onboard the ship HMS President to present Opera della Luna's production of G & S's HMS Pinafore, which is also currently being performed by D'Oyly Carte Opera at the West End's Savoy Theatre. The Festival production, directed by Jeff Clarke, will run nightly at 8 PM from May 30 to June 3.
Contemporary composer Stephen Sondheim also receives a good outing at this year's festival. The award-winning National Youth Music Theatre will install itself at the Peacock Theatre from May 27 to 29 to perform its production of Sondheim's fusion of Grimm's Fairy Tales, Into the Woods, with book by James Lapine.
And Julia McKenzie has devised a tribute concert to Sondheim, who recently celebrated his 70th birthday, with a concert of "Sondheim First and Last." Performed by the BBC Concert Orchestra, also at the Peacock Theatre, for one night only on June 1, "Sondheim First and Last" will feature the openings and closings of acts from The Frogs, Passion, Anyone Can Whistle, A Little Night Music and many other Sondheim favorites. Over the past ten years, the Covent Garden Festival, supported by the BOC Group, has given over 1,000 performances of more than 200 productions in over 20 different venues in and around Covent Garden. For further information on this year's program, contact the Festival box office on 011-44-20-7413-1410.