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Roll up! Roll up! Award-winning Watermill announces season that includes summer Barnum revival





Fresh from its success at The Stage Awards where it was named Theatre of the Year, The Watermill have announced the rest of their 2024 season of work.

Barnum
Barnum

The 2024 summer musical will be a revival of the Olivier and Tony award-nominated musical Barnum from July 2 – September 8. Featuring music by Cy Coleman, lyrics by Michael Stewart, and a book by Mark Bramble, the show takes audiences into the dazzling world of the legendary PT Barnum where imagination and ambition know no bounds. Directed by Jonathan O’Boyle (Cruel Intentions: The 90s Musical - West End, The Last Five Years - Southwark Playhouse & West End), choreographed by Oti Mabuse who returns to the Watermill after her work on Kiss Me Kate in 2019 and featuring an ensemble cast of actor-musicians and circus performers, this sensational show will overtake the Watermill site with the wonders and delights of Barnum’s circus.

Much Ado About Nothing
Much Ado About Nothing

From April 12 – May 18, The Watermill’s critically acclaimed Ensemble will sashay into the Golden Age of Hollywood in a new take on Shakespeare’s classic comedyMuch Ado About Nothing. Adapted by Tom Wentworth and directed by Paul Hart, the new production sets the comedy at a bustling film set and will feature a 1940s-inspired soundscape, played live by the ensemble cast of actor-musicians.

Fanny
Fanny

From May 23 – June 15, RJG Productions and The Watermill will present the world premiere of FANNY, a new comedy by Calum Finlay, directed by Katie-Ann McDonough, and starring Charlie Russell (The Goes Wrong Show - BBC, The Play That Goes Wrong - West End & Broadway), that reveals that Fanny Mendelssohn, sister of renowned composer Felix Mendelssohn, wrote some of his greatest hits. When Fanny intercepts a letter addressed to ‘F Mendelssohn’ inviting Felix to play for Queen Victoria, she decides to don his clothes and take his place. The fun and irreverent comedy celebrates classical music and - at last - recognises the work of a composer overlooked for her sex.

The King's Speech
The King's Speech

From September 20 – November 2, The Watermill will stage a new production of David Seidler’s The King’s Speech, directed by Emma Butler (Never Have I Ever - Chichester Festival Theatre, Camelot - West End), which takes an intimate view of one of life’s most unorthodox relationships between Bertie, the soon-to-be-crowned King George VI, and speech therapist Lionel Logue. As Hitler’s threat on Europe encroaches, Bertie fights his own battle to overcome his speech impediment at the time his country needs him most.

Pinocchio
Pinocchio

From November 15 – January 5, The Watermill’s annual festive production will be a new musical adaptation of Pinocchio. Casting aside his parents' wishes, the production follows Pinocchio as he sets off on a path of fun and freedom ready to discover the world. However, being faced with big decisions leads to some very calamitous consequences for Pinocchio, and it takes courage, heart, and a sprinkling of magic to discover what it means to grow up and the power of unconditional love.

The Watermill will also welcome The Wardrobe Ensemble with their brand-new adaptation of Babette Cole’s Princess Smartypants (April 4-6), a subversive, fun-filled adventure for children aged 4+ and their families; the popular Watermill Comedy Night returns with Laura Lexx headlining (April 6), and there is another opportunity to shop at the Watermill with a new Farmers Market full of delicious produce from a host of local suppliers (April 26).

Speaking about the new season joint CEO, artistic director Paul Hart said: “We have started this year having our theatre and work recognised with some amazing awards, and we’re delighted to share our next season which combines new writing and new approaches to much-loved titles. Our new adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing, adapted by Tom Wentworth, combines the glamour and music of 1940s Hollywood with the bustle of a film set and all the secrets and trickery of Shakespeare’s classic comedies. We’ll be spending summer at the circus with our new production of Barnum, which will bring the joy and wonder of the magical world that PT Barnum creates while considering the cost of his ambition to those around him. Our multi-talented cast of actor-musicians will have the added challenge of also becoming circus performers in this brand-new version of this classic musical.

“In autumn, Emma Butler’s intimate production of David Seidler’s The King’s Speech will explore the extraordinary relationship between Bertie and Lionel, as their two very different worlds collide, and royal protocol is put to one side. We’re thrilled to be working with the brilliant team at RJG Productions to bring a brand-new comedy to the Watermill with the hilarious FANNY, which reveals that composer Felix Mendelssohn’s sister, Fanny, was responsible for some of his most highly regarded work. At Christmas, the most famous puppet in the world, Pinocchio comes to the Watermill stage in a brand-new musical adaptation packed full of a menagerie of colourful characters, puppetry and music for festive family fun.”

Joint CEO and executive director Claire Murray added: “We’re excited to bring our distinctive Watermill style to a brilliant collection of plays and musicals and proud to continue to invest in new writing and adaptations as well as revivals. Our production of Barnum, featuring acrobatics and actor musicians, will take over the whole site, immersing audiences in the thrill and spectacle of the circus - it’s going to be another fantastic summer for all the family!

“As a registered charity, fundraising is vital to our continued work and we’re delighted to add to our Friends memberships, with new levels starting from as little as £10 per month. These new levels provide opportunities for people to engage with The Watermill on a deeper level – to gain a real insight into our work, get to know us better, and really see the difference their donation is making. We have also introduced the Watermill Musical Circle, through which donors can support and follow the process of creating a musical from the early stages of development, into the rehearsal room all the way to the on-stage experience. We hope this will help us welcome more people to be part of The Watermill’s growing community of donors.”

Priority booking opens for Friends and Members on February 9, with memberships starting at £35 for the year.

Email subscribers booking opens on 16 February with general booking opening the following day on February 17. Tickets for the season start at £15 and can be booked online at watermill.org.uk or by calling the box office on 01635 46044.



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