National Theatre 2017 season – Pinocchio and Follies provide the musical interest

John Tiffany

John Tiffany will direct Pinocchio as part of the National Theatre’s 2017 season

There will be ‘no strings to hold him down’ when Pinocchio steps on to the stage at the National Theatre this Christmas as part of the prestigious venue’s packed 2017 season.

Directed by John Tiffany, the world premiere of Pinocchio by Dennis Kelly joins the new production of the 1970s Broadway musical Follies as two of the NT’s most highly-anticipated productions this year.

Further details of both productions were revealed as part of an NT announcement which also included news that double the number of tickets will be made available to young theatregoers as part of the Entry Pass scheme.

Plans for the NT’s new stage musical version of Carlo Collodi’s much-loved story of the puppet who dreams of becoming a ‘real-life boy’ were first unveiled nearly two years ago with a Christmas 2016 premiere date mooted.

Presented by special arrangement with Disney Theatrical Productions, the show will finally receive its world premiere at the Lyttelton this December. Written by Kelly, the co-writer of the smash hit Matilda the Musical, Pinocchio will feature the songs and score from the much-loved 1940 Disney classic Leigh Harline, Ned Washington and Paul J. Smith, newly adapted by Martin Lowe.

The accomplished creative team will include: Bob Crowley (design and puppet co-design); Paule Constable (lighting design); Martin Lowe (music supervision, orchestrations and additional music); Steven Hoggett (choreography); Toby Olié (puppet co-design and puppetry direction); Simon Baker (sound design) and Jamie Harrison (illusions).

It was also announced that Josephine Barstow, Tracie Bennett, Peter Forbes and Phillip Quast will join the previously announced multi award-winning duo of Imelda Staunton and Janie Dee in the cast of Follies.

The show will open at the Olivier Theatre in August. Directed by NT associate director Dominic Cooke, the production will be designed by Vicki Mortimer with choreography by Bill Deamer, musical supervision by Nicholas Skilbeck, orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick, musical direction by Nigel Lilley, lighting design by Paule Constable, and sound design by Paul Groothuis.

previously appeared in the 1996 NT production of Guys and Dolls. Picture: John Haynes

Imelda Staunton, cast in Follies, previously appeared in the 1996 NT production of Guys and Dolls. Picture: John Haynes

Written by Stephen Sondheim with a book by James Goldman, the show debuted on Broadway in 1971 in a production directed by Harold Prince and Michael Bennett who also provided the choreography. The musical won seven of the 11 Tony Awards it was nominated for and includes the standards ‘Broadway Baby’, ‘I’m Still Here’, ‘Too Many Mornings’, ‘Could I Leave You?’, and ‘Losing My Mind’.

It was also announced that Entry Pass, the NT’s decade old scheme to offer low price tickets to under 25 year olds, will be expanded in 2017. The National plans to double the amount of tickets available through the scheme.

Although there will be a small price increase, the first in the scheme’s ten-year operation, 25,000 seats will be made available through the scheme, with allocations for all shows on the South Bank. With the tickets on sale at £7.50 for Entry Pass members and £10 for their friends, the scheme forms part of the NT’s ongoing commitment to offering low price tickets with 30% of all seats on the South Bank available at £20 or under.

The NT is dedicated to making the best theatre and sharing it with as many people as possible. Access facilities include captioned, audio-described, British sign language and relaxed performances, as well as touch tours, braille and large print cast lists and infrared audio headsets. For more information visit nationaltheatre.org.uk/access.

Angela Thomas

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