Final details have been announced for KHT50: Barstools to Broadway from the King’s Head Theatre the celebration taking place from 14 – 19 February, marking the successes of the world-renowned pub theatre’s first 50 years with a series of readings of plays that started their lives there, with cast and creative teams with links to the playwrights and original shows.
Gemma Whelan will join Dame Harriet Walter for the opening event at the V&A in South Kensington on Monday 14 February for the staged reading of Timberlake Wertenbaker’s The Third (first staged in 1980), directed by Audrey Sheffield. This is followed by a Panel Discussion on New Women’s Theatre and Lunchtime Theatre, where Dame Harriet is joined by playwright Timberlake Wertenbaker, and King’s Head Theatre co-Artistic Director and Joint CEO Hannah Price, hosted by theatre historian Susan Croft. The Panel Discussion will be available to access online, with the play reading only accessible to the in-person audience. Tickets are available now as part of the KHT50: Barstools to Broadway Sovereign experience and via the V&A website.
Karl James, Gareth Tudor-Price and John Warnaby will return to the King’s Head for the reading of Artist Descending a Staircase by Tom Stoppard (first staged in 1988), directed by Tim Luscombe on Tuesday 15 February at 7.00pm. They are returning to the production in the roles of ‘Martello’, ‘Donner’ and ‘Beauchamp’ respectively; having played the younger incarnation of the characters they return to perform the older characters. They will be joined by Nicholas Armfield as ‘Young Martello’, Benjamin Prudence as ‘Young Beauchamp’, Francesca Eldred as ‘Sophie’ and Rosalind Lailey doing Stage Directions.
Annabel Arden – co-founder of Complicité, and widow of Stephen Jeffreys – will direct his play Like Dolls or Angels (first staged in 1977) on Wednesday 16 February at 7.00pm, starring Isabel Adomakoh Young. There will be a post-show discussion with Oliver Award winning playwright April De Angelis.
Bryony Lavery’s Grandmother’s Steps will be directed by Abigail Anderson, (Thursday 17 February at 7.00pm). Grandmother’s Steps – first staged in 1977 – was part of the lunchtime theatre offering at the King’s Head Theatre. The original score was feared to be lost, but was eventually sourced in one of the original cast member’s homes. Whilst the search for it was ongoing, the producers decided to bring in musical improv legends Lucy Trodd and Ruth Bratt, who star in Showstoppers – the Musical, as ‘Crystal’ and ‘Iris’ respectively, alongside Musical Director Jordan Paul Clarke. The team will use the original score for pre and post show, and will use it as inspiration for the five songs they create.
Victoria Wood’s Good Fun (first staged in 1980) will be directed by Annabel Leventon on Friday 18 February at 7.00pm, featuring Julia Romano as ‘Liz’, Will Robinson as ‘Frank’, Colm Gleeson as ‘Mike’, Chloe English as ‘Elsie’, Joshua Eldridge – Smith as ‘Kev’, Katherine Rodden as ‘Gail’ and Paul Ansdell as ‘Maurice’. King’s Head Theatre Trainee Resident Director Ella Murdoch will be Assistant Director and George Strickland will be Musical Director. Jasper Rees – Victoria Wood’s biographer – will be joining for a post-show discussion to shed light on her life and work.
The KHT50: Barstools to Broadway celebrations will close on Saturday 19 February with a double bill reading of Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens written and directed by Bill Russell with music by Janet Hood (at 3pm and 7pm). Charles Quittner will be Assistant Director and Gareth Bretherton will be Musical Director.
This special day also serves to celebrate 30 years since the original King’s Head Theatre production of Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens in 1992, and is taking place during LGBTQIA+ month. The King’s Head Theatre is working with The Grad Fest to cast the show, and so far over 1,200 performers have applied for the reading. Casting will be announced on 4 February.
The Grad Fest is an organisation set up in 2020 as a response to the lack of professional opportunities 2020 Graduands had access to, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. More information regarding The Grad Fest is available via their website https://www.thegradfest.co.uk/
Founded by original Artistic Director Dan Crawford, The King’s Head Theatre opened its doors behind a pub on Upper Street in 1970. Over the last 50 years, playwrights, plays and creatives that have passed through its doors have gone onto great heights: spring-boarding them from the Fringe into the West-End, Broadway and beyond. KHT50 Barstools to Broadway celebrates the last fifty years, whilst looking forward to the next fifty years in a new purpose built 220 seat Islington theatre due to open in late 2022.
Ticket prices will range from £10 – £250, with funds going towards supporting and sustaining the theatre’s work in the future.