London's New St. James Theatre Announces Inaugural Season, Including Daddy Long Legs Musical

By Mark Shenton
June 28, 2012

The new St. James Theatre, built on the site of the former Westminster Theatre near Victoria Station, will open to the public in early August, with the first season of work kicking off with the London premieres of Sandi Toksvig's Bully Boy (previously seen in Southampton) and Paul Gordon and John Caird's musical Daddy Long Legs (previously seen in the U.S.).



There will also be a Christmas run for a version of Cinderella (first seen at Bristol last year) and Max Stafford-Clark returning to direct Our Country's Good.

Bully Boy will begin performances Sept. 18 for a run through Oct. 27. Co-produced by St. James Theatre Productions with Lee Dean, Charles Diamond, Daniel Schumann and Royal & Derngate Northampton, it is directed by David Gilmore, artistic director of the St. James, replacing Patrick Sandford who staged the original 2011 premiere of the play at Southampton's Nuffield Theatre. The production will star Anthony Andrews and Joshua Miles. In the play, which tackles the challenging moral issues of contemporary military occupation and its effect on the mental health of serving soldiers, "Major Oscar Hadley is investigating allegations of gross misconduct within a self-styled 'Bully Boy' unit of the British army. When young squaddie Eddie Clark from Burnley is interrogated, Oscar begins to discover that 'truth' in a modern insurgency can be a point of view rather than a fact."

Daddy Long Legs, which features music and lyrics by Paul Gordon and book and direction by John Caird (who previously collaborated on Broadway's short-livedJane Eyre in 2000), will begin performances Oct. 31 for a run through Dec. 8. It is produced by St. James Theatre Productions in assocaition with Rubicon Theatre Company. Set in the early 1900s in New England, Daddy Long Legs is "the account of a young orphan as she blossoms into a beautiful, intelligent and vivacious woman. An anonymous benefactor gives Jerusha Abbott an opportunity to attend college, requiring that she write to him monthly, even though he will not respond. Her letters to him paint a portrait of her former life in the orphanage, and the development of her mind and spirit." The show, which is currently on a U.S. tour, will feature Megan McGinnis reprising her U.S. performance as Jerusha Abbott. Also in the cast is Robert Adelman Hancock.

Cinderella, first seen at Bristol's Tobacco Factory last year, will begin performances Dec. 12 for a run through Jan. 26, 2013. It is produced by St. James Theatre Producitons in association with Tobacco Factory Theatre and Travelling Light. "When a rich man’s wife dies, his daughter Ella mourns her beloved mother with a grief as deep as the snow on her grave. Before the spring sun has time to melt it, her father takes a second wife and their peaceful life is taken over by a host of new and unpleasant relations. Her only friends are the woodland birds who roost in the tree that grows over the grave, but they are no ordinary birds."

Timberlake Wertenbaker's Our Country's Good will begin performances Jan. 30 for a run through March 9. Max Stafford-Clark, who also directed the play's original 1998 Royal Court production, will return to direct the play; Karl Sydow presents the Out of Joint and Octagon Theatre, Bolton production. Set in Australia in 1789, "a boat full of murderers, thieves and marine officers arrive on a distant shore. There, an ambitious young lieutenant, Ralph Clark, is set the task of directing a cast of convicts in the Restoration comedy The Recruiting Officer to celebrate the King's birthday, the first play ever to be staged in Australia. With only two copies of the script, a cast of convicts, a leading lady facing the gallows and an uncontrollable passion for one of the convict players, the production is in trouble from the start."

The St. James Theatre, entirely funded by private investment, features a 312-seat theatre, a studio space, brasserie and bar. The studio space, which will hold 150 standing or 100 seated, will present one-night and short-run comedy and live music including jazz and cabaret. The venue's management team includes Robert Mackintosh as joint CEO and Creative Director, David Gilmore as Artistic Director, James Albrecht as Assistant Artistic Director, Guy Kitchenn as Executive Theatre Director and Lady Lucy French as Director of Development.

To book tickets, which are on sale from June 29, contact the box office on 0844 264 2140, or visit www.stjamestheatre.co.uk for more details.