The award winning Menier Chocolate Factory in South London intends to produce two new Stephen Sondheim productions in the next two years, including the UK premiere of Road Show.
The news comes following their success at this year’s Tony awards, where the theatre’s revivals of Jerry Herman’s La Cage Aux Folles and Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music picked up a number of awards, including Best Revival of a Musical for La Cage.
Artistic director of the Menier, David Babani, has told Playbill that he has further Sondheim in his sights, and plans to produce Sondheim’s 2008 show Road Show, originally debuted as Bounce, in 2011 and the following year a production of Merrily We Roll Along, helmed by Maria Friedman. She has already developed an abridged version of the show that she performed in two Sondheim birthday concerts this year at the Cadogan Hall in London and Derngate Theatre in Northampton. Friedman appeared in the original UK production of the show.
Road Show is small-scale musical about the eccentric Mizner brothers and their adventures across America, and has a book by John Weidman. Merrily We Roll Along is about three friends whose story is told backwards, and has a book by George Furth.
The Menier, and Babani in particular, have a strong association with Sondheim, with their stagings of Sunday in the Park With George and A Little Night Music both transferring into the West End and on to Broadway. Babani cut his theatrical teeth on Sondheim, producing in 1997, at the age of 19, a successful revival of Assassins at the New End Theatre in Hampstead which toured the UK .
This year marks Sondheim’s 80th year and the Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and lyricist’s work and career has been celebrated in a number of shows and events staged around the world. A new production of his 1994 musical Passion will premiere at the Donmar Warehouse this summer, starring Elena Roger, Assassins will get a short run at the Union Theatre in Southwark from 30 June to 24 July, and Into The Woods is playing at the Open Air Theatre in Regent’s Park starring Hannah Waddingham from 5 August.