Leeds Playhouse – named the UK’s Most Welcoming Theatre at the recent UK Theatre Awards – has announced an epic spring/summer 2023 season.
Key productions include the world premiere of new Roy Orbison musical In Dreams by David West Read (of Schitt’s Creek and & Juliet fame); Kay Mellor’s A Passionate Woman returns to the Playhouse, 30 years after it was first staged in her home city; a new production of Golding’s Lord of the Flies; Shakespeare's Henry V; John Steinbeck classic Of Mice and Men; a new production, Sinfonia, created from stories told by older people of the Leeds area; a new children’s show, Football Freddie, by local company Fidget Theatre, and an extensive programme of artist-development opportunities. In Dreams (July 1-August 5) is based on the back-catalogue of Roy Orbison and fashions some of his songs into a new jukebox musical. Written by David West Read and directed by Luke Sheppard (& Juliet), it has the backing of Orbison's sons – but doesn't tell the singer's life story, instead using 20 songs to tell a story of a modern-day female singer who reassembles her old bandmates for a party.
David West Read said: “It's a tremendous honour to be premiering our new musical in Leeds, which has developed a reputation for introducing innovative and inspirational work. It's been a lifelong ambition of mine to build a contemporary musical around his classic songs.”
Leeds Playhouse associate director Sameena Hussain will direct A Passionate Woman (May 20-June10). The production premiered in the Playhouse’s Courtyard theatre 30 years ago, propelling Leeds writer Kay Mellor into the theatrical spotlight and her play to the West End. The intimate, deeply personal story of reinvention and rediscovery is a tribute to the much-missed writer.
Lord of the Flies (March 18-April 8) is a Playhouse and Belgrade Theatre Coventry co-production, presented in association with Rose Theatre. A new adaptation of the William Golding novel by Nigel Williams explores who we are as individuals and as a society – attempting to survive in an often brutally-competitive world.
Sinfonia (April 27-May 6) is a new production with performances of music, dance and storytelling, combining humour and stories from the generation that introduced punk to the world.
The show is created from stories offered by older people from Leeds and will be directed by award-winning, 73-year-old theatre maker Alan Lyddiard, who said: “Sinfonia is a search for meaning in those seemingly insignificant moments that suddenly become important and life-changing. Recognising small moments matter: when gathered together they can make a big impact on us all.”
Henry V (February 9-25) is a co-production with Shakespeare’s Globe, Headlong Theatre Company and Royal & Derngate in Northampton. Performed in an intimate setting, it explores Henry V’s single-minded pursuit of power and what it means to be English.
Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck (May 11-27) is a Playhouse, Birmingham Rep and Fiery Angel co-production and will be directed by Birmingham Rep’s associate director, Iqbal Khan – who directed the opening ceremony for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
An intimate story about friendship and tenderness, it looks at the choices we make and how we choose to live.
Every year the Playhouse tours theatre work to local community venues and for next year they are working with local company Fidget Theatre on new children’s show Football Freddie, getting audiences in the mood for the FIFA Women's World Cup in the summer.
The production will play in the Playhouse’s Bramall Rock Void from May 31-June 3 before a two-week community tour.
The Playhouse will also continue its annual tradition of handing over the building to local people for Open Season, a month-long celebration of community theatre and creativity, the full programme for which will be announced in late spring. Studio theatre the Bramall Rock Void will play host to a selection of smaller works created by local artists who have been supported through the Playhouse’s Furnace programme.
The theatre's award-winning creative engagement team expects to work with over 12,000 people on activity in key areas in the city. Associate director for creative engagement, Alexander Ferris, said: “As Leeds celebrates a year of culture in 2023, we are proud to continue to offer dynamic platforms for creativity and self-expression at the Playhouse, and we will be extending that reach so people can enjoy Playhouse activity without having to travel to the city centre, with projects on their doorstep in Harehills, Burmantofts, Chapeltown, Middleton and others." As well as all the above home-produced work the Playhouse has an extensive season of touring shows, including The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (February 14-18); Northern Broadsides in Quality Street (May 10-13) and The Beekeeper of Aleppo (May 31-June 3).
More info and tickets here