A new stage adaptation of the 1973 horror classic The Exorcist, which had its U.K. premiere last fall at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, will transfer to London’s West End, beginning previews October 20 at the Phoenix Theatre. The limited run is scheduled through March 10, 2018. Tickets go on sale August 11 at 4 PM.
Agnes of God playwright John Pielmeier wrote the stage adaptation based on William Peter Blatty’s Oscar-winning screenplay (itself an adaptation of his novel) about a young girl possessed by demonic infestation.
An opening night and West End cast will be announced at a later date. Young actor Louise Connolly earned praise for her performance as 12-year-old Regan in the Birmingham production.
Bill Kenwright produces the London transfer of The Exorcist in a special arrangement with American producers Ben Sprecher and Stuart Snyder, who expect to bring the play to Broadway in 2018.
The Exorcist is among the highest-grossing films in history. Sprecher and Snyder, who control international rights to the stage production, are planning a global roll out for The Exorcist after London and New York.
Sprecher is moving on from the scandal surrounding the 2012 collapse of the Broadway musical Rebecca, and has been attached to The Exorcist since an earlier version of Pielmeier’s play premiered at the Geffen Playhouse in 2012. A Broadway transfer was scuttled after audiences and critics were left disappointed by the adaptation that framed the story as a theological investigation of good and evil.
“People come to that show predisposed to be scared,” Sprecher previously told Playbill. “If we don’t scare them, they come away disappointed. What that particular version of the play was, was more of a theological discussion, and it just didn’t get there ‘scary wise.’”
Sean Mathias (Bent, Waiting for Godot, No Man’s Land) was brought in to direct Pielmeier’s new, chill-inducing treatment of The Exorcist, which premiered in the U.K. last fall and is now set to arrive in London. Mathias and his creative team have packed production with supernatural touches, from shadowy projections that move about the set, to slamming doors, demonic murmurs, projectile vomit, and the inclusion of the film’s iconic scene in which Regan’s head appears to turn 360 degrees.
“It’s really a testament to John, who worked very hard to remake the play from it’s original incarnation, and to meet the expectation of the audience coming in,” Sprecher told Playbill. “This is a really scary evening. It’s not the only thing audience takes away from the production, but we realized we had to deliver some of those scares people expect and want to see. It has to be earned, and come from the play, and that’s where John and Sean have really focused their attention.”
Sprecher declined to comment officially on whether or not they were seeking out A-list stars for the upcoming productions, saying only, “You can’t ever rule out that some star may come down the pike who wants to do Broadway, but our main goal has always been the property. We had a fantastic casting in Birmingham. The most important thing is that we get the play right; that it’s scary, and that it gives the audience what they’re expecting, and that it’s a substantive evening in the theatre. It’s more than just a really scary play, which it really is.”
Watch the trailer for the U.K. premiere below: