Menier Chocolate Factory’s Willy Russell season to transfer to the Trafalgar Studios
The Menier Chocolate Factory’s double-bill of Willy Russell plays will join his long-running musical Blood Brothers in the West End from 8 July.
Educating Rita will star Tim Pigott-Smith, who will replace original cast member Larry Lamb, and Laura Dos-Santos. Shirley Valentine will once again feature TV star Meera Syal.
Educating Rita is directed by Jeremy Sams, who will direct Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s new production of The Wizard of Oz early next year. Shirley Valentine is directed by Glen Walford, and both shows have designs by Peter McKintosh, lighting by Paul Anderson and sound by David Ogilvy.
Tim Pigott-Smith received a 2010 Olivier Award nomination for his performance as Ken Lay in Enron at the Noel Coward Theatre. His extensive theatre credits include Pygmalion at the Old Vic, Little Nell for the Bath Theatre Royal, Hecuba for the Donmar Warehouse and Mourning Becomes Electra for the National Theatre as well as many productions for the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre and Bristol Old Vic. On film his credits include Alice in Wonderland, Quantum of Solace, V for Vendetta and Bloody Sunday. His more recent television credits include The Queen, Midsomer Murders, On Expenses and The Last Flight to Kuwait.
Laura Dos Santos has most recently starred opposite Bill Nighy in the BBC Radio 4 adaptation of Educating Rita, broadcast last Christmas. Her previous theatre credits include We Will Be Gone at the Camden People’s Theatre, Look Back In Anger at the Jermyn Street Theatre, Stags and Hens at the Royal Court Liverpool, On The Middle Day at the Old Vic Theatre, In Your Hands at the New End Theatre and The Morris at the Liverpool Everyman Theatre. Her television credits include Bad Girls, Fingersmith, Innocent Party and The Bill.
Jeremy Sams’ directing credits include The King and I at the Royal Albert Hall, The Sound of Music at the Palladium and on tour in the UK, Donkeys’ Years at the Comedy Theatre, The Little Britain live UK tour, Michael Frayn’s Noises Off at the National Theatre which transferred to the West End and Broadway and Spend Spend Spend at the Piccadilly Theatre and on tour nationally. His many adaptations and translations include The Rehearsal, Mary Stuart, La Bohème, The Magic Flute and The Merry Widow. His composing credits include Jane Austen’s Persuasion, for which he won a BAFTA and The Mother for the BBC, Arcadia for the National Theatre and The Merry Wives of Windsor for the Royal Shakespeare Company as well as the film score for Enduring Love for which he won the Ivor Novello Award for Best Film Score. He has also adapted the book of the musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
Meera Syal is best known for her television work including Goodness Gracious Me, The Kumars at Number 42 (for which she received a BAFTA nomination for Best Comedy Performance), Life Isn’t All Ha Ha Hee Hee, My Sister Wife and Beautiful People. Later this year she will be seen in the new series of Dr Who playing geologist Nasreen Chowdhury opposite Matt Smith. Her theatre work includes Rafta Rafta, The Vagina Monologues and Serious Money. Syal is currently filming My First Love for Sky Arts Documentaries in which she returns to a past love, jazz singing. Following her mentoring sessions with Jacqui Dankworth, she performed at Ronnie Scott’s earlier this year.
Glen Walford was Artistic Director of Liverpool Everyman Theatre where she commissioned and directed the world premiere of Shirley Valentine. During her time as Artistic Director of Ludlow Festival her productions included The Comedy of Errors, Much Ado About Nothing and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Walford was the founding Artistic Director of London Bubble Theatre. She has directed extensively on tour and in London she has directed productions for the Royal Court, Bush, Tricycle and Hampstead Theatres.
As well as Educating Rita and Shirley Valentine, both of which were made into major award-winning features films, playwright, lyricist and composer Willy Russell is the author of the long running West End hit Blood Brothers. His other work includes John Paul George Ringo…& Bert, Stags and Hens, One for the Road and Breezeblock Park. His writing for television includes Our Day Out and One Summer. Russell’s plays have been performed in many countries across the globe, winning countless awards as well as academic honours. Willy Russell’s Our Day Out The Musical will play at the Royal Court Liverpool this Autumn.