Sheridan Smith to star in Shirley Valentine at the Duke of York’s Theatre

Stage and screen star Sheridan Smith will play Shirley Valentine at the West End’s Duke of York’s Theatre in London, directed by Matthew Dunster.

This major new revival of Willy Russell’s classic one-woman comedy will play the Duke of York’s from 17 February 2023 for a 12 week season until 3 June 2023.

There has been much rumour about Shirley Valentine coming back to London, and even Sheridan herself speculated about returning to the West stage in 2023.

Shirley Valentine is a comedy about a middle-aged, working-class housewife from Liverpool who dreams of another more exciting life, and gets it when she goes on holiday to Greece. The revival will have a new feminist twist, but will still be true to Willy Russell’s original play.

Willy Russell’s Shirley Valentine was first performed 36 years ago, with Pauline Collins starring in the original West End production at the Vaudeville Theatre directed by Simon Callow, and winning a Best Actress Olivier Award in 1988 for the role. She also took the play to Broadway, scoring a Best Actress Tony Award, and then made the hit movie version. Shirley Valentine also won a Best New Comedy Olivier Award.

Shirley Valentine is actually coming back to the Duke of York’s Theatre as it was the home of the first West End revival of the production in 1989, starring Hannah Gordon, then Paula Wilcox, Elizabeth Estensen, and Kate Fitzgerald.

Sheridan’s recent TV projects have included a TV adaptation of David Walliams’ Gangsta Granny Strikes Again, also starring Walliams; and Rosie Molloy Gives Up Everything for Sky.

Sheridan Smith was last on stage in the West End in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the London Palladium in 2019 playing the Narrator, and prior to that the Menier Chocolate Factory’s production of Funny Girl, which transferred to the Savoy Theatre. Her last dramatic stage role was starring with David Walliams in Michael Grandage’s West End production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 2013 at the Noël Coward Theatre, and Hedda Gabler at the Old Vic in 2012. She has won two Olivier Awards – for Legally Blonde and Flare Path.

Director Matthew Dunster is a three-time Olivier Award nominated director whose most recent work has included Martin McDonagh’s Hangmen on Broadway, and 2.22 A Ghost Story at the Criterion Theatre, and moving to the Lyric starring Cheryl in January.

Recent Shirley Valentine productions include a 2017 UK tour starring Jodie Prenger, and a Welsh production in 2022 starring Shelley Rees.

Willy Russell is one of Britain’s most successful playwrights, with his work in constant production, including Blood Brothers and Educating Rita.

The Olivier and Tony award-winning producer of Shirley Valentine, David Pugh, said in a press statement: .“Back in 1986 I was lucky enough to see the first ever production of Shirley Valentine in Liverpool. I have begged Willy to one day let me produce a revival of Shirley Valentine when the casting was right. That day is now and both Willy and I believe that Sheridan Smith is the perfect Shirley Valentine.”

Sheridan Smith said: “As a mum now myself I’m delighted to be playing theatre’s best-loved mum and I am honoured to be entrusted by Willy Russell to bring his Shirley to life once again in the West End. Now, to practice cooking chips and egg!”

Alongside Matthew Dunster as director, the creative team also includes design by Paul Wills, lighting design by Lucy Carter, and sound design by Ian Dickinson for Autograph.

Book tickets to Shirley Valentine at the Duke of York’s Theatre in London

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📷 Main photo: Shirley Valentine starring Sheridan Smith

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