Kneehigh Set to Bring Legrand's Umbrellas of Cherbourg Back to West End After Regional Run
By Mark Shenton
Kneehigh, the company behind the stage version of Brief Encounter, which arrives on Broadway for a run at Studio 54 in September after a previous run at St Ann's Warehouse last year, will turn its attentions next to staging a new version of Michel Legrand's The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. Kneehigh's Emma Rice will direct and adapt it first at Leicester's Curve Theatre for a short run in February 2011, prior to an anticipated West End transfer in the spring.
Originally a 1964 film "Les Parapluies de Cherbourg," directed by Jacques Demy, Legrand's contributions received three Oscar Best Music nominations, including one for "I Will Wait for You" as Best Original Song, which has been recorded subsequently by many artists including Frank Sinatra, Bobby Darin, Tony Bennett and Liza Minnelli. A stage version of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg was previously presented in the West End in a different short-lived stage version, seen at the Phoenix Theatre in 1979.
This new production will begin performances at Leicester's The Curve Feb. 11, 2011, for a run through Feb. 26 only. It will be presented in the West End by Daniel Sparrow and Mike Walsh Productions, Curve Leicester and in association with City Lights Productions Leicester. With lyrics translated by Sheldon Harnick, the production will be designed by Lez Brotherston, with lighting by Malcolm Rippeth, sound by Simon Baker and musical supervision by Nigel Lilley. Casting is still to be announced.
According to press materials, the show revolves around 20-year-old French auto mechanic Guy Fouchier who has fallen in love with 17-year-old Geneviève Emery, an employee in her widowed mother's chic umbrella shop. On the evening before Guy is to leave for a two-year tour of combat in Algeria, he and Geneviève vow to remain lovers. After discovering she is carrying Guy’s child she must choose between waiting for his return or accepting an offer of marriage from a wealthy diamond merchant.
Legrand has composed over 200 film scores, including "The Thomas Crown Affair" and "Summer of ‘42" as well as several musicals including "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg" and "Yentl" which have won him three Oscars and five Grammys. He was 22 when his first album, "I Love Paris," became one of the best-selling instrumental albums ever released. His albums now number over 100 spanning jazz, musical theatre, variety and classical styles on which he has worked with Frank Sinatra, Sarah Vaughan, Jack Jones, Regine Velasquez, Ella Fitzgerald, Perry Como, Lena Horne, Dame Kiri te Kanawa, James Ingram, Johnny Mathis, Barbra Streisand and many other leading musicians. He was most recently represented in London by his musical Margeurite, co-written with Alain Boublil, Claude-Michel Schonberg and Herbert Kretzmer, that ran at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket starring Ruthie Henshall in the title role in 2008.
As artistic director of Kneehigh, Emma Rice has directed Brief Encounter at the Haymarket Cinema and successive national and international tours, Pandora's Box in a co-production with Northern Stage, The Red Shoes for which she won the Best Director 2002 Barclays TMA Awards, The Wooden Frock on tour in the UK, The Bacchae for which she won the TMA Best Touring Production 2005, Tristan & Yseult and Nights at the Circus for the Lyric Hammersmith, Cymbeline in association with the Royal Shakespeare Company for the Complete Works Festival and A Matter of Life and Death for the National Theatre.
Tickets for The Umbrellas of Cherbourg at Leicester's Curve go on sale Sept. 16. To book, contact the box office on 0116 242 3595, or visit www.umbrellasofcherbourg.com for more details.
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