BLITHE SPIRIT, UNCLE VANYA, Will Open Theatre Royal Bath's Summer Season, Featuring Jennifer Saunders, Rupert Everett, and More
Jonathan Church, Artistic Director of Theatre Royal Bath's Summer Season, today announces the opening shows for its 2019 programme which will see much-loved British comedian Jennifer Saunders star as Madame Arcati in Noël Coward's Blithe Spirit directed by Richard Eyre, and Rupert Everett making his directorial stage debut in Anton Chekhov's Uncle Vanya in which he will also play the title role in a new version by David Hare. Blithe Spirit will run from 13 June to 6 July with opening night for press on 19 June, followed by Uncle Vanya from 18 July to 3 August with opening night for press on 24 July, both in the Main House. Further casting and the full summer programme will be announced in due course.
Theatre Royal Bath is also delighted to announce it is extending its tenure with Jonathan Church as Artistic Director of the Summer Season by a further three years through to 2022. It follows Jonathan Church's inaugural summer season in 2017 and a hugely successful 2018 programme with two West End transfers including the critically acclaimed production of Arthur Miller's The Price currently playing at Wyndham's Theatre, and Switzerland at the Ambassadors Theatre.
Thursday 13 June - Saturday 6 July
Press night: Wednesday 19 June
Jennifer Saunders, one of the UK's most popular comic actors, makes her Theatre Royal Bath debut as the preposterous clairvoyant Madame Arcati in Noël Coward's classic comedy Blithe Spirit. The production brings together a distinguished and multi-award-winning creative team, directed by former National Theatre director Richard Eyre with design by Anthony Ward and lighting by Howard Harrison. Lisa Dillon will also star as Ruth Condomine, with further casting to be announced.
Written in 1941, Coward's inventive, witty and meticulously engineered comedy proved light relief and a popular distraction at the height of World War II when it was first staged. The show had a record-breaking run in the West End and on Broadway and remains one of the playwright's most popular works.
Novelist Charles Condomine and his second wife Ruth are literally haunted by a past relationship when an eccentric medium inadvertently conjures up the ghost of his first wife, Elvira, at a séance. When she appears, visible only to Charles, and determined to sabotage his current marriage, life - and the afterlife - get complicated.
Jennifer Saunders is well known as one half of the comedy duo French and Saunders, for which she and Dawn French received a BAFTA fellowship in 2009, and for the hit comedy series and subsequent film, Absolutely Fabulous, which she also wrote and starred in. She has received numerous awards including two Emmys, five BAFTAs and four British Comedy Awards. Other recent credits include Lady Windermere's Fan (West End) and the BBC series Jam and Jerusalem.
Lisa Dillon starred as Mary Smith in the BBC series Cranford. Her stage credits include Richard Eyre's Private Lives in the West End, the RSC's The Roaring Girl and The Taming of the Shrew, A Flea in Her Ear and Design for Living at the Old Vic and The Knot of the Heart and When the Rain Stops Falling at the Almeida.
Noël Coward was an English playwright, composer, actor, producer and director. His dramas include Hay Fever and Private Lives. For film, he wrote and directed the Academy Award-winning In Which We Serve and the screenplay for Brief Encounter.
Richard Eyre was at the helm of the National Theatre for 10 years and is the winner of five Olivier Awards including a Lifetime Achievement Award. His numerous hugely-acclaimed productions include Guys and Dolls, The Invention of Love and Private Lives. His award-winning film and television work includes Iris, Tumbledown and The Children Act.
Anthony Ward has designed numerous productions including the Tony Award-winning Mary Stuart, the Olivier Award-winning Oklahoma! and What's on Stage Award winner Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
Howard Harrison is a two-times Olivier Award-winning lighting designer whose recent works include Impossible and Mamma Mia! (London, Broadway and worldwide).
Blithe Spirit is presented by arrangement with Lee Dean.
Thursday 18 July - Saturday 3 August
Press Night: Wednesday 24 July
Rupert Everett returns to Theatre Royal Bath where he last appeared in The Judas Kiss in 2012 and which went on to transfer to the West End, and following recent critical acclaim as Oscar Wilde in The Happy Prince which he also wrote and directed. Everett will direct his first stage play and lead the cast in Anton Chekhov's theatrical masterpiece Uncle Vanya, a playful story of unrequited love, loss and misplaced dreams, in a new version by the playwright and screenwriter David Hare.
It's late summer, at the close of the nineteenth century. In the heart of the Russian countryside, Vanya and his niece Sonya have worked for years to manage the ramshackle estate on behalf of his brother-in-law, a retired professor. When the professor arrives with his stunningly beautiful young wife and announces his plan to sell the estate, all their lives are thrown into turmoil.
Rupert Everett rose to fame in Another Country which earned him his first BAFTA nomination. Since then he has played many leading roles including in the multi-award-winning film My Best Friend's Wedding, The Importance of Being Earnest, An Ideal Husband, Dance With A Stranger, The Madness of King George and St Trinian's. His stage credits include Blithe Spirit on Broadway and Pygmalion and The Judas Kiss in the West End.
Anton Chekhov was a leading playwright and author of the late 19th and early 20th centuries and is regarded as one of the most influential writers of the Russian realist school. His plays include The Seagull, Three Sisters and The Cherry Orchard.
David Hare's award-winning plays include Racing Demon, Plenty, Skylight, Amy's View and The Judas Kiss. He received Academy Award nominations for his adaptations of The Hours and The Reader.