World Premieres, Including "New" Cole Porter Musical, to Be Part of King's Head Season

News   World Premieres, Including "New" Cole Porter Musical, to Be Part of King's Head Season
 
Islington's pioneering pub theatre, the King's Head, will produce its first own full season for the first time in a decade under the artistic directorship of Stephanie Sinclaire, who has taken over the running of the theatre following the death of her husband Dan Crawford in 2005; Crawford founded the theatre in 1970.

The season — which will include four world-premiere musicals and three plays — will kick off with the opening of Black and White Ball on April 8 (following previews from March 25), a new musical featuring the songs of Cole Porter.

The theatre has also undergone an extensive refurbishment that has increased the seating capacity to 135 (from 112) on new raked, padded bench seating, with new lighting equipment and new gentlemen's lavatories.

Black and White Ball has a book by Warner Brown, and Broadway's Larry Blank is musical supervisor and orchestrator. Matthew White directs the musical, which is set in 1960s New York. According to press materials, "Leah enters a dilapidated but elegant ballroom, searching for answers to a mystery that has haunted her since childhood. Who murdered Jay St. John, a celebrated author and her beloved step-father, twenty years ago in this very room? And can she clear the cloud of suspicion over her mother's head? She summons the ghost of Jay to help her remember…" It is scheduled to run to May 4.

It is followed by another new musical, Betwixt, with book, music and lyrics by Ian McFarlane, that opens on May 13 (following previews from May 6) for a run to June 22. The show, which has been in development at the King's Head since July 2007, previously had a workshop production in Covent Garden in 2006. Kate Golledge directs, and Mike Dixon is the musical supervisor for a show described in press materials as "a witty musical romp, set to a richly comic score." It follows fantasy novelist Bailey Howard and his flamboyant friend Cooper Fitzgerald as they are magically transported to the world of the In-Between. Their arrival fulfills the ancient prophecy that the oppressed land and its kidnapped Prince Haydn will be rescued by a conquering hero and a great queen. Setting off on their journey Bailey and Cooper encounter a host of curious characters, from the seductive Nymph Queen to a deranged theatrical troupe, the evil Languidere and a singing disembodied head.

Lloyd Evans, theatre critic for The Spectator who has previously co-written the plays Who's the Daddy? in 2005 and A Right Royal Farce in 2006 with fellow scribe Toby Young, will go it alone as playwright for Grand Slam, running from June 24-July 27. Tamara Harvey will direct this two-hander comedy about a failed British female tennis player and the unscrupulous man hired to act as her bodyguard. Stephanie Sinclaire will then direct the world premiere of a new adaptation of JM Barrie's Dear Brutus, entitled The Shadow Master, running July 29-Sept. 7. Sinclaire previously directed Dear Brutus in the late nineties, following which she secured the film rights. The resulting screenply, The Shadow Master, has had two readings, and will now be brought to the stage, with plans to move into a film shoot after its run here with the same ensemble of theatre actors.

Sherrill Gow will direct the U.K. premiere of David Gow's Cherry Docs, running from Sept. 9-Oct. 19. The two-hander explores modern racial tensions through the lives of two diametrically opposed men.

Another world-premiere musical follows: Brett Kahr's Street Magic runs Oct. 21-Dec. 7. Lisa Forrell directs the rite of passage tale, based on a true story, that charts the journey of a young girl, Sugar, the daughter of Desdemona, a Brixton brothel owner originally from Jamaica. The story contrasts Sugar's discovery of young love with local boy Rem and her horrific introduction to prostitution, both on her 13th birthday.

The King's Head then revives its long-standing relationship with the late British composer Vivian Ellis — whose 1920s musical Mr. Cinders was previously revived there before transferring to the West End — by staging the world premiere of his previously unseen early fifties show Godiva, featuring book and lyrics by Guy Bolton. Running Dec. 9, 2008-Jan. 25, 2009, it is described in press materials as "a musical tale of Anglo Saxon attitudes to a soundtrack of minstrels' lutes and debauched singing where (almost) everything will be revealed." Set in the court of Leofric, the Earl of Mercia, trouble is brewing – Lady Godiva, the Earl's wife in all but the eyes of the church, won't go to bed with him unless he pays his penance to the local Bishop. However, when Leofric imprisons the cousins of Godiva's handsome tailor Tom, she has little choice but to carry out his demand to ride naked through the centre of the city in order to free them.

The King's Head box office can be reached by calling 020 7226 1916. For further details visit www.kingsheadtheatre.org.

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