Five premieres set scene for venues’ cracking seasons

Sarah Parks, Ayesha Antoine, Ben Porter, Alan Ayckbourn, Bill Champion, Laura Doddington and Richard Stacey
Sarah Parks, Ayesha Antoine, Ben Porter, Alan Ayckbourn, Bill Champion, Laura Doddington and Richard Stacey
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They lay at two of the extremities of the region, but the theatres of Scarborough and Sheffield have both announced cracking new seasons.

Sheffield is ahead of the game at the minute, already announcing its autumn season, while Scarborough has revealed what lays in store for theatre fans through the summer months.

Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre is, between now and September, going to be staging a total of five world premiere shows.

Fiona Evans’ latest play Geordie Sinatra is now being staged at the theatre, John Godber and Jane Thornton are premiering their new shows Lost and Found, Sir Alan Ayckbourn’s 76th play Surprises will be on stage later this summer and in August Chris Monks’ first musical adaptation specifically written for the theatre opens.

Monks, the theatre’s artistic director, is famed for his adaptations of operas and operettas. His Mikado set around a cricket theme was inspired and now he is taking Verdi’s Rigoletto and Victor Hugo’s Le Roi S’Amuse and turning it into a new show called Soul Man. The musical is set in West Yorkshire in 1974 and tells the story of stand-up comedian Leroy Jones who conceals a precious secret and needs to get himself and his priceless cargo out of the country and to safety.

Sir Alan, who has not been artistic director at the theatre since 2009, has returned every year with a new production. He will direct his award-winning comedy Absurd Person Singular, which opens on June 8 and then on July 12 will unveil his latest play, Promises.

As usual, a single cast will play both productions and will feature Yorkshire favourite Sarah Parks – last seen at the theatre playing Marlene Dietrich – and Ayesha Antoine, who appeared on Broadway in Ayckbourn’s My Wonderful Day, winning a Tony award for her performance.

Both Ayckbourn plays are also part of the London 2012 Festival, a nationwide event featuring artists from around the world.

While Scarborough’s summer season is already underway, down the other end of the county Sheffield is already gearing up for the coming autumn, announcing its season up until Christmas.

Planning has begun on My Fair Lady, the Christmas musical at the theatre which will be directed by artistic director Daniel Evans – although he begins the season in a more serious mode, directing Macbeth. In 2010 it was John Simm in Hamlet and in 2011 Dominic West and Clarke Peters in Othello – there is no news on the casting of Macbeth yet.

Shelagh Delaney’s A Taste of Honey, which premiered at the Crucible in 1972 and went on to become a classic of modern British theatre, also returns. Set in 1950s Manchester, it will feature a live jazz trio on the stage.

Richard Wilson, an associate director at the theatre and known to audiences as Victor Meldrew, will direct a new play by DC Moore in a production which is supported by local law firm, Hill Dickinson, which is funding projects for three years.

Evans says: “Despite the challenges of the economic climate, it’s edifying to see regional theatre responding with ingenuity and confidence. I feel proud to be leading Sheffield Theatres during these provocative but exciting times.”

The Sheffield season goes on sale tomorrow – tickets on 0114 249 6000.