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Nottingham Playhouse’s Spring 2020 season includes Piaf with Jenna Russell in the title role

Season preview

NOTTINGHAM Playhouse has announced its spring 2020 season and it includes musical legends, TV stars, gripping new writing, hilarious comedies and a brand-new musical.

Tony-nominated and Olivier Award-winning actress Jenna Russell (EastEnders and Sunday in the Park with George) will be taking to the stage in Piaf (May 8 – 23). She will bring to life the sensational, world-renowned Edith Piaf, whose most famous songs include La Vie en Rose and Je Ne Regrette Rien.

Pam Gems’ play explores the extraordinary life led by Piaf – from singing in the streets to becoming one of France’s biggest international stars.

Piaf is a co-production with Leeds Playhouse and will be directed by Adam Penford (An Enemy of the People, The Madness of George III). Nottingham Playhouse will also transform its auditorium into a Parisian bar, with the opportunity to book cabaret-style seating for performances.

Adam Penford, Artistic Director for Nottingham playhouse, said: “Nottingham Playhouse produced Piaf in the 1980s and I’m thrilled to be bringing this lively play back to the theatre. It takes a real star to capture the legend that is Edith Piaf and Jenna Russell is one the UK theatre’s most beguiling actor-singers. She has a unique talent for bringing fragility, spirit and charisma to every role she tackles. Nottingham’s in for a magical night at the theatre.”

In February, there will also be a new production of farcical comedy Moonlight and Magnolias (February 21 – March 7). When the producer of Gone With The Wind scrapped the script three weeks into filming, he tasked a new director and screenwriter to create a new one. Hilariously they only had five days to achieve cinematic magic, and this play speculates what happened behind the locked doors of an office with just peanuts and bananas for food.

The play will be directed by Kirsty Patrick Ward (director of Groan Ups, a new play by the award-winning team behind The Play That Goes Wrong), who previously worked on Nottingham Playhouse’s Shebeen as dramaturg.

Stephanie Sirr, Chief Executive of Nottingham Playhouse, said: “With this season we’re proud to showcase the range of fascinating stories that we will bring to life here in Nottingham – from showcasing major new talent to reviving absolute classics.”

After previously announcing it had commissioned new writing from stage and screenwriter Nathaniel Price (Noughts and Crosses, BBC and Tin Star, Sky) Nottingham Playhouse can now confirm First Touch will make its stage debut in June ( 5 – 20).

It’s 1980 and Clayton James, a 17 year-old Nottingham lad, seems to have the world at his feet after being offered a professional contract at a First Division football club. During an era of racism, hooliganism and Thatcher’s administration, his dual-heritage family are facing an uncertain future and Clayton’s success may hold some relief. However, when his former coach suddenly re-enters his life, Clayton is forced to confront a past he had tried to bury.

The summer will also see the world premiere of a ‘twinsational’ new musical, destined for London’s West End. Identical (July 31 – August 22) will be co-produced between Nottingham Playhouse and Kenny Wax Ltd (producer of the global phenomenon Six) and directed by the Olivier and Tony Award-winning Sir Trevor Nunn (Les Miserables and Cats). Read more about Identical.

William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice will also be brought bang-up-to-date in the first ever co-production between Nottingham Playhouse and Lakeside Arts. The play – directed by Martin Berry – will be transported to the modern-day Goose Fair, delivering a tale of greed, poverty and personal vendetta with no-nonsense Nottingham spirit.

In April (16 – 25), Nottingham Playhouse will welcome a new adaptation of Oliver Twist, as part of the Ramps on the Moon consortium. The play, based on Charles Dickens’ classic novel, will be brought to life with creative sign language, audio description and captioning – placing D/deaf and disabled artists and audiences at the heart of the project.

Oliver Twist will be adapted by award-winning playwright Bryony Lavery and directed by Amy Leach, who said: “Oliver Twist will give an integrated ensemble cast of D/deaf, disabled and non-disabled actors the opportunity to play a brilliantly varied range of characters and showcase a wide range of talents.”

Tickets for Michael Morpurgo’s award-winning Private Peaceful are also on sale, with performances running from March 27 to April 11. The new adaptation by Simon Reade, which has been written for an ensemble of actors, follows the Peaceful brothers, Tommo and Charlie, after they both fall for the same girl just as the Great War begins. The production will be directed by Anna Ledwich (Kiss Me, Trafalgar Studios and No One Will Tell Me How to Start A Revolution, Hampstead Theatre).

It has now been announced that Private Peaceful will travel to Ipswich’s New Wolsey Theatre for performances between April 21 and April 25, and Plymouth’s Theatre Royal from April 28 April to May 2.

Arriving in Nottingham in March is Poet in da Corner by Debris Stevenson – one of Nottingham Playhouse’s former associate artists. It tells the story of how a young girl’s life is changed after she is given Dizzee Rascal’s ground-breaking album Boy in da Corner.

This dynamic production, directed by Ola Ince, combines music, dance, spoken word and features grime MC Jammz and SS Vyper.

Holes will return to Nottingham Playhouse in February (5 – 8). Based on the award-winning novel and the Hollywood blockbuster, the production was hailed as “a fast-paced and inventive family show” by The Stage when it was first produced by the Playhouse back in spring 2018. It now returns as part of a UK tour that will tell the story of Stanley Yelnats, who is cursed with bad luck and sent to a labour camp for a crime he didn’t commit.

For more information or to book tickets, call the box office on 0115 941 9419 or visit