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Regent's Park Open Air Theatre

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Regent's Park Open Air Theatre
OAT Logo.png
OATAuditorium.jpg
AddressInner Circle
London, NW1
United Kingdom
Coordinates51°31′44″N 0°09′18″W / 51.529°N 0.155°W / 51.529; -0.155
Public transitLondon Underground Baker Street
OwnerRegent's Park Theatre Ltd.
TypeOpen-air theatre, with resident company
Capacity1,256 seats
ProductionSummer repertory
Construction
Opened1932; 89 years ago (1932)
Rebuilt1999
Website
openairtheatre.com

Regent's Park Open Air Theatre is an open-air theatre in Regent's Park in central London.

The theatre

Open Air Theatre Bar, at night
Open Air Theatre Bar, at night

Established in 1932, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre is one of the largest theatres in London (1,256 seats) and is situated in Queen Mary’s Gardens in Regent’s Park, one of London’s Royal Parks.[1] The theatre’s annual 18-week season is attended by over 140,000 people each year. In 2017, the theatre was named London Theatre of the Year in The Stage Awards,[2] and received the Highly Commended Award for London Theatre of the Year in 2021.[3]

Awards

Date Production Award

1983

As You Like It

1991

The Boys From Syracuse

2009

Hello, Dolly!

2010

Into The Woods

2011

Crazy For You

2013

The Sound of Music

2013

To Kill a Mockingbird

2016

Jesus Christ Superstar

2017

On The Town

  • Best Actress in a Musical, The Stage Debut Awards (Miriam-Teak Lee) [7]

2018

Little Shop of Horrors

2019

Jesus Christ Superstar (Barbican)

  • Best Supporting Male Actor in a Musical, Black British Theatre Awards (Cavin Cornwall) [9]

2019

Evita

†also for The Crucible

The Venue's History

In 1932 The New Theatre (now the Noel Coward) was left without a show after the early closure of a play by Mussolini. Robert Atkins and Sydney Carroll presented a ‘black and white’ production of Twelfth Night[11] which subsequently transferred to a makeshift theatre in Regents Park, thus establishing Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre.[12]

Many stars of the future have performed at the theatre.[13] One of the first was in 1936 when Vivien Leigh played Anne Boleyn in Henry VIII, three years before she found fame in Gone with the Wind. Subsequent household names to appear at Regent’s Park include: Bernard Bresslaw, Judi Dench – who would go on to have a long relationship with the theatre and is currently Patron – Kate O’Mara, Lesley Garrett, Richard E. Grant, Ralph Fiennes,[14] Hugh Bonneville, Damian Lewis,[15] Eileen Atkins, Benedict Cumberbatch,[16] Sheridan Smith[17] and many more.

In 1939, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre and the Windmill Theatre were the only two theatres to remain open throughout the War.[18]

In 1963 David Conville and David William established the New Shakespeare Company as a non-profit distributing company.[19] Laurence Olivier was one of the key investors. Conville remained associated with the theatre for 50 years, and following his death in 2018 Artist Lee Simmons was commissioned to design a sculpture that was erected in the grounds of the theatre.[20]

The New Shakespeare Company became Regents Park Theatre Ltd in 2010, acknowledging the move away from producing Shakespeare-only plays.[21]

The theatre’s current fixed amphitheatre-style auditorium was first constructed in 1974 with numerous refurbishments leading to the venue as it stands today – which boasts the longest bar in the West End.

There have been many significant productions in the theatre’s history including a gala performance in celebration of the Golden Jubilee (attended by HM The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh), the theatre’s first original musical, Bashville.[22]

In 2015 the theatre launched its own digital archive to enable audiences to explore all of the productions across its history.[23] The archive continues to be updated.

Management

Period Management[24]

1932-1939

Sydney Carroll, Impresario; Robert Atkins, Artistic Director

1940-1961

Robert Atkins, Artistic & Managing Director

1962-1966

David Conville, Managing Director; David William, Artistic Director

1967-1973

David Conville, Managing Director; Richard Digby Day, Artistic Director

1974-1976

David Conville, Managing Director; Mervyn Willis, Artistic Director

1977-1986

David Conville, Artistic & Managing Director

1987-2007

Ian Talbot, Artistic & Managing Director

2008-2021

William Village, Executive Director; Timothy Sheader, Artistic Director

2021–present

James Pidgeon, Executive Director; Timothy Sheader, Artistic Director

Key Productions

In 2007 Timothy Sheader was appointed Artistic Director[25] and joined Executive Director William Village as Joint Chief Executive. They embarked on programming that would extend the plays presented at the theatre beyond the works of Shakespeare. The first of these was The Importance of Being Earnest. Other works included The Crucible, To Kill a Mockingbird, Lord of the Flies, Pride and Prejudice, Hobson’s Choice, All My Sons, The Seagull and Peter Pan.

In 2008 A Midsummer Night’s Dream re-imagined for everyone aged six and over[26] was the first ‘re-imagined’ production at the venue especially created for children. This was followed by various subsequent ‘re-imagined’ titles including Macbeth (2010) Pericles (2011), and Oliver Twist (2017).

Timothy Sheader and William Village also produced a series of critically acclaimed musicals including Hello, Dolly!, Into the Woods, Crazy for You, The Sound of Music, Porgy and Bess, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Jesus Christ Superstar, On The Town, Little Shop of Horrors, Evita and Carousel. Shakespeare remained part of the programming and, in 2016, Michelle Terry, who went on to become Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s Globe, played the title role of Henry V. In 2016, the co-production of Michael Morpurgo’s Running Wild[27] (with Chichester Festival Theatre) brought new writing to the Open Air Theatre; the production included young people drawn from the local community. Two years later, the venue would co-produce its first opera with English National Opera: The Turn of the Screw.[28] This partnership led to the 2019 production of Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel[29] which included an ensemble of children from the Pimlico Musical Foundation.

In 2020, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre was the first to open during the coronavirus pandemic with a socially distanced production of Jesus Christ Superstar: The Concert.[30]

Beyond the Park

Various Open Air Theatre productions have gone on to be presented beyond the theatre itself. The first overseas transfer was of the 1956 productions of Hamlet and Twelfth Night when the theatre was invited to perform at the Baalbek Festival in Lebanon. In 2011, Crazy For You transferred to the West End’s Novello Theatre[31] and, the following year, Timothy Sheader and Liam Steel re-directed their 2010 production of Into The Woods[32] in Central Park, New York for The Public Theatre.

Productions that have toured the UK following seasons at the Open Air Theatre include: The Pirates of Penzance, High Society, To Kill A Mockingbird[33] (also a month-long residency at the Barbican Centre[34]), Lord of the Flies,[35] Running Wild and Pride and Prejudice.[36]

The most widely seen production from Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre is the 2016 production, Jesus Christ Superstar. After a second sell-out season in 2017, the production played a limited engagement at the Lyric Opera of Chicago in 2018[37] before transferring to the Barbican in 2019.[38] The show is currently touring North America.[39]

References

  1. ^ "Royal Parks". www.royalparks.org.uk. Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  2. ^ "The Stage Awards 2017 Winners In Full". www.thestage.co.uk. Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  3. ^ "The Stage Awards 2021 London Theatre of the Year". www.thestage.co.uk. Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  4. ^ "Olivier Award Winners". www.officiallondontheatre.com. Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  5. ^ "WhatsOnStage Award Winners 2011". www.whatsonstage.com. Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  6. ^ "Jesus Christ Superstar Transfers to the Barbican". www.standard.co.uk. Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  7. ^ "The Stage Debut Awards 2017 Winners In Full". www.thestage.co.uk. Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  8. ^ "West End Wilma Awards 2019". www.westendwilma.com. Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  9. ^ "Winners in First Black British Theatre Awards". www.britishtheatre.com. Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  10. ^ "Critics Circle Award Winners 2019". www.criticscircletheatreawards.com. Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  11. ^ "Twelfth Night (1932)". www.openairtheatreheritage.com. Retrieved 18 October 2021.
  12. ^ "Regent's Park Open Air Theatre". www.officialtheatre.com. Retrieved 18 October 2021.
  13. ^ "The Story of the Open Air Theatre". www.concordtheatricals.co.uk. Retrieved 18 October 2021.
  14. ^ "Actor Profile: Ralph Fiennes". www.londontheatre.co.uk. Retrieved 18 October 2021.
  15. ^ "The Magic of Regent's Park Open Air Theatre in Pictures". www.theguardian.com. Retrieved 18 October 2021.
  16. ^ "Benedict Cumberbatch Regent's Park Archive". www.whatsonstage.com. Retrieved 18 October 2021.
  17. ^ "Midsummer Night's Dream 2006". www.bbashakespeare.warwick.ac.uk. Retrieved 18 October 2021.
  18. ^ "Regent's Park Open Air Theatre". www.seatplan.com. Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  19. ^ "The New Shakespeare Company". www.archiveshub.jisc.ac.uk. Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  20. ^ "David Conville OBE Memorial Sculpture". www.openairtheatre.com/blog. Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  21. ^ "Regent's Park Open Air Theatre". www.theparliamentaryreview.co.uk. Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  22. ^ "Bashville (1983)". www.openairtheatreheritage.com. Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  23. ^ "Open Air Theatre Heritage". www.openairtheatreheritage.com. Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  24. ^ "Our History". www.openairtheatre.com/history. Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  25. ^ "Timothy Sheader". www.owlartistmanagement.co.uk. Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  26. ^ "A Midsummer Night's Dream Re-Imagined". www.openairtheatre.com. Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  27. ^ "Running Wild". www.cft.org.uk. Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  28. ^ "Turn of the Screw". www.classicfm.com. Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  29. ^ "Hansel and Gretel Production Gallery". www.eno.org. Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  30. ^ "Jesus Christ Superstar". www.theguardian.com. Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  31. ^ "Crazy For You Transfers to Novello Theatre". www.londontheatre.co.uk. Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  32. ^ "Into the Woods with Donna Murphy, Amy Adams, Chip Zien and Dennis O'Hare Opens in Cenral Park". www.playbill.com. Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  33. ^ "Kids Previews". www.culturewhisper.com. Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  34. ^ "To Kill a Mockingbird Review". www.britishtheatre.com. Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  35. ^ "Lord of the Flies Casting Tour". www.whatsonstage.com. Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  36. ^ "Pride and Prejudice UK Tour". www.classicfm.com. Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  37. ^ "Jesus Christ Superstar". www.lyricopera.org. Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  38. ^ "Jesus Christ Superstar". www.barbican.org.uk. Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  39. ^ "Jesus Christ Superstar US Tour". www.jesuschristsuperstar.com. Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  • Guide to British Theatres 1750–1950, John Earl and Michael Sell, pp. 129–130 (Theatres Trust, 2000). ISBN 0-7136-5688-3.

External links

This page was last edited on 23 December 2021, at 08:15
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