Warchus Announces First Season at Old Vic, Including Pre-Broadway Groundhog Day

News   Warchus Announces First Season at Old Vic, Including Pre-Broadway Groundhog Day Matthew Warchus has announced his inaugural season as artistic director of London's Old Vic, where he has succeeded Kevin Spacey's ten-year tenure. Groundhog Day, a musical version of the 1993 film of the same name, which has already announced Broadway plans to open March 9, 2017, will be premiered at the Old Vic first in 2016. Warchus himself directs, leading a team of collaborators reunited from Matilda, including composer Tim Minchin, choreographer Peter Darling and designer Rob Howell.



Warchus will also direct Ralph Fiennes in David Hare's new version of Ibsen's The Master Builder, Timothy Spall in Pinter's The Caretaker, and Rob Brydon in a new play Future Conditional by Tamsin Oglesby.



Richard Jones will return to the Old Vic, where he first made his mark as a director of plays with productions like Too Clever By Half during Jonathan Miller's 1980s regime, to direct O'Neill's The Hairy Ape. Drew McOnie will direct and choreograph a new dance thriller Jekyll and Hyde, inspired by the Robert Louis Stevenson story, that has been specially commissioned by the Old Vic as part of its new dance collaboration with the McOnie Company.



Also programmed is David Greig's new stage adaptation of Dr. Seuss's The Lorax directed by Max Webster, and a series of variety nights inspired by The Old Vic's vaudeville history featuring household names and newcomers in comedy, music, magic and variety.

The theatre also has announced that future seasons will include the first West End revival of Yasmina Reza's Art that Warchus also originally directed in London and on Broadway; the 50th anniversary production of Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead; and a new musical based on the film "Pride" written by Stephen Beresford that Warchus also directed.

The theatre has also further commissioned work from Richard Bean (who is writing a new play), Caroline Bird (who is writing the book for a new musical based on DC Thomson's "Dennis the Menace"), Dennis Kelly (who is adapting Sophocles's Theban trilogy, Oedipus Rex, Oedipus at Colonus and Antigone), David Nicholls (adapting Penelope Fitzgerald's "At Freddie's), and new works by Diana Nneka Atuona and Mark Watson. 

The Old Vic has also created a ground-breaking new musical commissioning fund, in partnership with Scott Rudin and Sonia Friedman, which plans to commission a roster of new musicals during the next five years. Rudin and Friedman, acting together, have also established a partnership that will enable them to transfer Old Vic shows to the West End, Broadway and elsewhere in the UK and North America.

Warchus has additionally appointed as associate artists a range of experts in different disciplines, including sound designer Simon Baker, choreographer Peter Darling, casting director David Grindrod, photographer Manuel Harlan, designer Rob Howell, writer Dennis Kelly, magic expert Peter Kieve, choreographers Drew McOnie and Kate Prince, composers Tim Minchin and Christopher Nightingale and lighting designer Hugh Vanstone According to press materials, these "are peers whose talent he greatly admires, and whose work spans various artistic disciplines. Those appointed will have significant involvement in the life of The Old Vic during his time as Artistic Director, including project development and creative collaboration."


In a press statement, Warchus has commented, "After 25 years of freelance directing I unexpectedly find myself running my favourite theatre in the world. Or, if you like, my two favourite theatres since The Old Vic can now transition with relative ease between London's best in-the-round space and the traditional, magnificent end-on auditorium. During my tenure I look forward to playing seasons in both of these great configurations."



He goes on, "My first season demonstrates our aim to present more productions per year, of wide-ranging work, in a 'something for everyone' approach which reflects my own eclectic tastes and love of this unique and uplifting art form. In its dazzling history, The Old Vic has been home not only to great acting but also to dance, musical extravaganzas, vaudeville and spectacle. This diverse heritage is a big part of my inspiration going forward.

"When Lilian Baylis ran The Old Vic she kept a sign over her desk which read 'Dare, always dare!'. Taking my cue from her, my goal is to programme invigorating seasons which are, by turns, surprising, smart, adventurous, and fun."

Firm dates are announced only for the first three productions. Tamsin Oglesby's Future Conditional will open Warchus's tenure, beginning performances Sept. 1 prior to an official opening Sept. 10, for a run through Oct. 3. Described in press materials as "a bracingly topical and boisterously funny new play," it tackles the conundrum of British schooling through a myriad of characters including parents, teachers, and Alia, a prodigiously clever young Afghan refugee and the newest member of Britain’s Education Research Board. Alia has a radical solution for Britain’s schools that could restore our place in the world education league. But is the system ready to take lessons from a schoolgirl?



Rob Brydon will be joined by a cast of 23 young actors for a production that will be performed in the round in the Old Vic's CQS configuration.



O'Neill's The Hairy Ape will begin performances Oct. 17 prior to an official opening Oct. 29, for a run through Nov. 21. The play tells the story of Yank, a labourer who revels in his status as the strongest stoker on a transatlantic ocean liner. But when Yank is called a ‘filthy beast’ by the overbred daughter of a steel merchant, he experiences an awakening of consciousness that leads him on a journey through the wealthy neighbourhoods and disenfranchised underbelly of New York society.



Dr. Seuss's The Lorax, adapted by David Greig, will begin performances Dec. 2 prior to a press day Dec. 15, for a run through Jan. 16. Inspired by Dr. Seuss’s classic tale, The Lorax tells of a moustachioed and cantankerous critter who's on a mission to protect the earth from the greedy, tree-chopping, Thneed-knitting businessman known only as The Once-ler.



Priority booking for Future Conditional, The Hairy Ape and The Lorax is now open. General booking from May 12, with tickets for the remainder of the inaugural season to go on sale later this year. To book tickets, contact the box office on 0844 871 7628 or visit oldvictheatre.com

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