Henshall, Atkins, Legrand, Boublil & Schonberg Featured in London's Haymarket Season

News   Henshall, Atkins, Legrand, Boublil & Schonberg Featured in London's Haymarket Season The Theatre Royal Haymarket, known for housing West End commercial productions, opens its first independently produced season in September. Former Almeida co-artistic director Jonathan Kent will helm the inaugural slate.
Ruthie Henshall
Ruthie Henshall Photo by Ben Strothmann

William Wycherley's 1675 restoration comedy The Country Wife opens the season, running from Sept. 27-Jan. 12.

The cast is comprised of Liz Crowther (Mrs. Squeamish), Fiona Glascott (Margery Pinchwife), David Haig (Pinchwife), Patricia Hodge (Lady Fidget) and Toby Stephens (Horner).

According to Haymarket notes, "The Country Wife tells the story of Horner, a notorious and lascivious man-about-town and his ingenious scheme for the rampant and mass seduction of the women of London society. By spreading the false rumour of his own impotence, he gains the sympathy of the husbands of the town and, more importantly, free access to their wives. Meanwhile the newly-married Pinchwife desperately attempts to keep his naïve country bride from the clutches of predatory London bachelors. When she and Horner meet, events spiral out of his control…"

The 1675 premiere production caused such scandal it was banned from stage and print for roughly a century, until a "cleaner" version was produced.

Up next, award winning actress Eileen Atkins will star as Mrs. Rafi in The Sea, running Jan. 17-April 19, 2008. Edward Bond's black comedy takes place when "a wild storm shakes a small East Anglian seaside village and sets off a series of events that changes the lives of all its residents. Set in the high Edwardian world of 1907, The Sea is a fascinating blend of wild farce, high comedy, biting social satire and bleak poetic tragedy," according to press notes.

Joining Atkins will be David Haig (Hatch) and Marcia Warren (Jessica Tilehouse).

Closing the season will be the world premiere musical collaboration from Michel Legrand, Alain Boublil, Claude-Michel Schonberg and Herbert Kretzmer, entitled Marguerite.

Headliner Ruthie Henshall stars in "A love story set in Paris during the Second World War. Marguerite draws inspiration from one of the greatest of romantic novels, 'La Dame aux Camellias' by Alexandre Dumas. Marguerite is the beautiful and notorious mistress of a high-ranking German officer. Armand is a young musician half her age who falls obsessively in love with her. Their dangerous love story is played out against the background of Occupied Paris," according to production notes.

Oscar Winner Michel Legrand will pair up with the Tony-winning team of Boublil and Schonberg for Marguerite running May 6-Nov. 1, 2008.

For further information on Theatre Royal Haymarket Company visit www.trh.co.uk.

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Whereas most West End commercial venues serve as a temporary host for outside productions, Theatre Royal, Haymarket producers Arnold M. Crook and Nigel Everett have launched the Theatre Royal Haymarket Company with the intent of staging their own in-house works.

The venue will be the only commercial West End theatre to create its own program in this way – a practice normally associated with the subsidized sector.

"The ideal would be to have the seasons running one after the other although we will bring in outside productions if there are gaps," said Crook at the project's launch.

"If this season works we are already having talks with other directors who are more than keen to follow (Kent)."

With joint artistic director Ian McDiarmid, Kent established the Almeida as one of London's most successful production houses. Previous productions include Medea with Diana Rigg in the title role which transferred to the West End and Broadway.