Sheridan Smith to Star in Old Vic's HEDDA GABLER, September - Brian Friel Adapts Ibsen

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Legally Blonde's Sheridan Smith will star in the Old Vic's production of HEDDA GABLER by Henrik Ibsen, in a version by Brian Friel directed by Anna Mackmin. The show begins previews on the 5th of September and opens on the 12th for a run until the 10th of Novemeber.

Brian Friel’s adaptation of Ibsen’s seminal work, Hedda Gabler, will open at The Old Vic on 12 September with previews from 5 September. Directed by Anna Mackmin, this major new production will star Olivier award-winning actress Sheridan Smith in the title role with Buffy Davis as Bertha, Anne Reid as Juliana Tesman, Adrian Scarborough as George Tesman and Fenella Woolgar as Thea Elvsted.

Anna Mackmin directs with composer Paul Englishby, Lez Brotherston as designer, lighting by Mark Henderson, sound by Simon Baker and casting by Sarah Bird.

Ibsen’s brilliant masterpiece on the conflict of the requirements of society and those of the individual explores the corrosive descent of Hedda Gabler into the treacherous void between expectation and reality. The general’s daughter has married the respectable academic Tesman - a husband she despises as mediocre – and now, driven by fear and loathing, Hedda’s despair goads her independent spirit to a rage expressed in the wilful contamination of life around her which eventually leads to disaster for her and all those beguiled by her.

Hedda Gabler was first published by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen in 1890. The central protagonist Hedda is often cited as one of the great dramatic roles in theatre. The play premiered in 1891 in Germany and since then has gained recognition as a classic of realism in nineteenth century drama.

Buffy Davis is best known as Jolene in The Archers and will soon be seen in Joe Wright’s film Anna Karenina. Her theatre work includes The Government Inspector, Annie Get Your Gun, The Rose Tattoo and The Beggar’s Opera. On television she has appeared in Doc Martin, Silk, Upstairs Downstairs, Mutual Friends and Fear of Fanny.

Anne Reid has just completed filming on the BBC drama Anthony and Cleopatra with Derek Jacobi due to be screened later this year. Her extensive television work includes Upstairs Downstairs, Marchlands, Five Days and Doc Martin while on stage she has appeared in Dimetos (Donmar), Thea Sharrock’s Happy Now (National) and Into The Woods (Royal Opera House). Films include Ricky Gervais’ Cemetery Junction, The Mother and Savage Grace.

Adrian Scarborough’s extensive theatre work includes Richard Eyre’s Betty Blue Eyes, After The Dance, The Habit Of Art, Time And The Conways, Henry IV Part 1 & 2, The Mandate all at the National, Accidental Death Of An Anarchist at the Donmar and Humble Boy at the Gielgud. On television he has recently been seen as Mr Pritchard in Upstairs Downstairs and will also appear in the BBC’s forthcoming drama Mrs Biggs having also appeared in acclaimed comedies Miranda and Gavin & Stacey. His film credits include Tom Hooper’s Les Miserables and The King’s Speech, Notes On A Scandal with Judi Dench and Vera Drake.

Sheridan Smith has carved out a reputation for being one of Britain’s finest young stage stars having won the Olivier and Evening Standard Best Actress awards for her performance in Trevor Nunn’s production of Flare Path (Theatre Royal Haymarket) and the Olivier and What’s On Stage Best Actress awards for Legally Blonde (Savoy). Her other theatre credits include Tinderbox at the Bush directed by Josie Rourke, Little Shop Of Horrors (Menier/Duke Of York’s), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre), The People Are Friendly (Royal Court), Ancient Lights (Hampstead) and Into The Woods (Donmar). She has recently completed filming the title role in the much-anticipated BBC drama Mrs Biggs and Jimmy McGovern’s acclaimed BBC series Accused. Other television work includes Gavin & Stacey and Jonathan Creek and her film credits include Quartet directed by Dustin Hoffman.

Fenella Woolgar returns to The Old Vic following a hugely successful run in their award-winning production of Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing also directed by Anna Mackmin. Her other stage credits include Rupert Goold’s Time and The Conways (National), The Veil (National), and Motortown (Royal Court). Her screen credits include the movies St Trinians, Scoop, Richard E Grant’s WahWah and Mike Leigh’s Vera Drake, whilst on television she has appeared in Case Histories, Silk, Doctor Who and Poirot.

Brian Friel is one of Ireland’s most prolific and distinguished playwrights working today. Plays include Hedda Gabler (after Ibsen), The Home Place, Performances, Three Plays After (Afterplay, The Bear, The Yalta Game), Uncle Vanya (after Chekhov), Give Me Your Answer Do!, Molly Sweeney (New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Foreign Play), Wonderful Tennessee, A Month in the Country (after Turgenev), The London Vertigo (after Charles Macklin), Dancing at Lughnasa (three Tony Awards including Best Play, New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play, Evening Standard and Olivier Award for Best Play), Making History, The Communication Cord, American Welcome, Three Sisters (after Chekhov), Translations, Aristocrats (Evening Standard Award for Best Play, New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Foreign Play), Faith Healer, Living Quarters, Volunteers, The Freedom of the City, The Gentle Island, The Mundy Scheme, Crystal and Fox, Lovers: Winners and Losers, The Loves of Cass Maguire, Philadelphia, Here I Come!

Brian Friel is a member of Aosdana, the society of Irish artists, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the (British) Royal Society of Literature, and the Irish Academy of Letters. He has been awarded the Ulysses Medal by University College, Dublin.

Anna Mackmin is returning to The Old Vic after her recent production of Tom Stoppard’s multi award winning The Real Thing. This production won many critical plaudits as did her 2009 Old Vic production of Brian Friel’s modern classic Dancing At Lughnasa. More recently Anna has directed Amelia Bullmore’s second play Di and Viv and Rose downstairs at Hampstead Theatre which transfers to the West End next spring, Me and My Girl at the Sheffield Crucible and Really Old Like Forty Five at The National Theatre. She has worked in many London theatres and has directed new and first plays by, amongst others, the following writers, Moira Buffini, Amelia Bullmore, David Eldridge, Charlotte Jones, Tamsin Ogelsby, Mark Ravenhill, Laura Wade and Enda Walsh. These productions have won best new play and best new comedy awards, and been nominated for many more including The Oliviers, The Critic’s Circle, What’s On Stage, The Susan Smith Blackburn and The George Devine awards.

Performances are Mon–Sat 7.30pm; Wed & Sat 2.30pm. Please note there are no matinee performances on Wed 5 Sept, Sat 8 Sept or Wed 12 Sept.

Tickets are £11, £16, £21, £28, £40, £50 (Previews £5 off top three price bands, Old Vic Friends & Club Members an additional £2.50 off top three price bands) from http://www.oldvictheatre.com/.

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