Lenny Henry to Lead Birminhgam Repertory Theatre's RUDY'S RARE RECORDS, 4-20 September
Lenny Henry is due to return to the West Midlands to headline Birmingham Repertory Theatre's Autumn and Winter 2014 season. The Dudley-born comedian and actor will star in the stage premiere of Rudy's Rare Records from 4-20 September (press night Tue 9 September), his first role at the theatre.
Based on the successful BBC Radio 4 series, written by Danny Robins and which Henry co-created as well as starred in, Rudy's Rare Records is a funny and touching comedy set in an old reggae record shop at risk of re-development in Birmingham. Henry plays Adam, the son of shop owner Rudy, who reluctantly moves home to look after his dad and help run the shop.
Adapted for the stage by writer Danny Robins, Rudy's Rare Records is directed by Paulette Randall and produced by Birmingham Repertory Theatre and Hackney Empire where it will run immediately after the premiere in Birmingham. The production will feature a live band onstage playing music by Jimmy Cliff, Desmond Dekker, Bob Marley and the Sugarhill Gang.
Born in Dudley, Henry made his name on New Faces and Tiswas, becoming a mainstay of TV comedy. He co-founded Comic Relief and is a talented singer, recently he has established himself as a formidable actor receiving huge critical acclaim for his portrayal of Shakespeare's Othello and in the West End as Troy Maxon in August Wilson's Fences.
"I've performed comedy gigs many times in Birmingham over the years, but this is my first straight acting role in the city and the first time I've been on stage at The REP, which is something I'm really looking forward to," says Lenny Henry. "Growing up in Dudley I would come into Birmingham every Saturday to hang-out in a record shop not too dissimilar to Rudy's so it's a play that's very close to my heart."
Roxana Silbert, Artistic Director at Birmingham Repertory Theatre adds:
"We're delighted that Lenny will be bringing this brilliant show about three generations of a Birmingham family back home. With Lenny's inimitable warmth and humour, it promises to be an uplifting evening and I'm looking forward to his REP debut enormously.
Rudy's Rare Records is one of a wide variety of shows at The REP this autumn in a programme that offers something for everyone. I'm very proud to be working in partnership with some of the finest artists and companies in the country to deliver some world class theatre to our audiences."
The REP's autumn and winter programme marks the 20th anniversary of the end of apartheid. Solomon and Marion (16 October - 1 November), staring the internationally-acclaimed South African-born actress Dame Janet Suzman, is a powerful story, written and directed by Lara Foot, about two injured souls searching for redemption in a fragile, post-apartheid South Africa. The play will be accompanied by a programme of In Conversations, performances via live link-ups with schools and theatres in South Africa and films celebrating 20 years of democracy.
The season features two new productions of classics. Roxana Silbert directs a brand new staging of John Steinbeck's iconic Of Mice and Men (10 October - 1 November) and Michael Attenborough directs a scintillating new production of J B Priestley's Dangerous Corner (4 - 8 November) prior to a West End run.
Frantic Assembly's acclaimed and award-winning production of Othello (12 - 15 November) comes to The REP as part of a UK tour. The country's leading movement theatre company, Frantic Assembly explodes onto the stage with this electrifying take on Shakespeare's most brutal and gripping thriller-tragedy of paranoia, jealousy, sex and murder.
The REP also welcomes the critically acclaimed stage adaptation of The Kite Runner (22 September - 4 October). Based on Khaled Hosseini's international bestselling novel and film, this powerful and dramatic story directed by Giles Croft and produced by Nottingham Playhouse with Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse is a haunting tale of friendship that spans cultures and continents and follows one man's journey to confront his past and find redemption.
Following phenomenal reviews and sell-out performances at the Royal Court and in the West End, a trilogy of Samuel Beckett plays, Not I, Footfalls and Rockaby, (16-20 September) opens the season in The STUDIO, performed solely by Lisa Dwan and directed by Walter Asmus - a friend and long-time collaborator of Beckett.
The First World War centenary continues to be reflected in the season with the UK stage premiere of Ernest Hemingway's A Farewell To Arms (19-22 November) by acclaimed theatre makers, Imitating the Dog, who bring their unique theatrical vision to one of the great love stories of the twentieth century.
The season in The DOOR opens with a gripping, compulsive play; Grounded by George Brant (4-6 September). Named a Top 10 play by the Guardian and Evening Standard in 2013, Grounded is a searing and beautiful one woman-show that scrutinises the morality of modern warfare through the eyes of a female fighter pilot as an unexpected pregnancy ends her career in the sky.
International acclaimed theatre artist Andrew Dawson also brings his one-man show, The Russian Doctor, to The DOOR (11-13 September). Based on Sakhalin Island, Anton Chekhov's only work of non-fiction, The Russian Doctor brings to life the epic story of Chekov's 3000 mile journey through Siberian wilderness to document the harrowing living conditions of a remote Tsarist penal colony.
Local company, Women &Theatre, celebrate their 30th anniversary at The REP with For The Past 30 Years (9 - 11 October) - a new political drama that shines a light on the impact that economics, key events and government policies have had on the working lives of women over the last three decades.
The inventive Told By An Idiot return to The REP following last season's Tiswas-inspired Never Try This At Home with My Perfect Mind (4 - 8 November). Acclaimed classical actor Edward Petherbridge rehearsed for the role of King Lear - then a major stroke left him barely able to move. As he struggled to recover he made a discovery: the entire role of Lear still existed word for word in his mind. Directed by award winning Kathryn Hunter and performed by Edward Petherbridge and Paul Hunter, My Perfect Mind is a moving and comic exploration of the resilience of the human spirit through the prism of Shakespeare's great tragedy.
Other season highlights include the previously announced Christmas family show, The BFG (26 Nov - 24 Jan), Philip Glass's The Trial by Music Theatre Wales (10 November), the story of a fearless teenager in Laura Lomas's Bird (20 - 21 October), Nabokov Art Club's Symphony (28 Oct - 1 Nov), the hilarious dinning-drama experience Faulty Towers (9 - 14 September) and the hysterical Peter Pan Goes Wrong (27January - 1 February).
Throughout the season there will be a programme of free activities and events bringing the theatre's foyers and public spaces to life. The Sound of Memories interactive exhibition (1 September - 15 November) will celebrate music in theatre productions starting with Rudy's Rare Records. A fun-packed REP Open Day (14 September) will feature vintage market stalls, a record fair, backstage tours and entertainment for all ages. Arts, science and discovery come together as The REP and the Library of Birmingham are transformed into a Fun Palace for the weekend (4 & 5 October). Plus throughout September Friday night is band night with late night music striking up after curtain down.
Tickets for The REP's Autumn and Winter 2014 Season go on sale to members on Friday 2 May at 10am and to the general public on Friday 9 May.