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Sheffield Theatres production of Life of Pi transfers to Wyndham's Theatre

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

SIMON Friend, the producer of the acclaimed Life of Pi, has announced that the celebrated Sheffield Theatres production will transfer to London – to Wyndham’s Theatre where it will begin performances on Monday, June 22, 2020.

Lolita Chakrabarti’s dazzling adaptation of Yann Martel’s extraordinary, award-winning book, directed by Max Webster, was awarded a string of five-star reviews when it opened in Sheffield earlier this year.

For the first time ever, the historic Wyndham’s Theatre will be transformed to fully accommodate the magnificent elements of the production that left audiences mesmerised and won unanimous critical acclaim.

Cameron Mackintosh, the owner of the Wyndham’s Theatre, said: “Rarely does a theatrical version of a film eclipse the original, but the brilliant staged adaption of Yann Martel’s Life Of Pi is one of those exceptions and I am thrilled that it is coming to the Wyndham’s Theatre after its sensational sell out premiere at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield earlier this year.

“The production team’s approach to the material has been mirrored by their innovative reinvention of the Wyndham’s auditorium, rejigging levels and extending the stage over the stalls so that the floor and walls of the theatre become one complete surreal environment, that I think it will be even more intense than before. Audiences are in for a Pi-flying ride into their imagination!”

Simon Friend said: “We are very fortunate to have Cameron Mackintosh’s full support behind our reconfiguration of the Wyndham’s Theatre. This will give audiences the very best experience of our state-of-the-art design and video projection, as well as bringing the majestic Pacific Ocean in to the stalls.”

Rob Hastie, Artistic Director of Sheffield Theatres, said: “We’re delighted to be working with Simon Friend to take Life of Pi onwards from Sheffield Theatres. I’m almost envious of the new audiences who will get to discover the beauty and brilliance of Yann’s novel, Lolita’s play and Max’s production for the first time. Life of Pi demonstrates the commitment we make at Sheffield Theatres to putting adventurous new work on our stages, and is the result of the skills and hard work of an enormous number of people, all putting their talents in the service of great storytelling.”

After a cargo ship sinks in the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean, there are five survivors stranded on a single lifeboat – a hyena, a zebra, an orangutan, a sixteen year-old boy and a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger. Time is against them, nature is harsh, who will survive?

Based on one of the best-loved works of fiction – winner of the Man Booker Prize, selling over fifteen million copies worldwide – Life of Pi is a breath-taking new theatrical adaptation of an epic journey of endurance and hope.

Award winning writer Yann Martel’s works include The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios (1993), Self (1996), We Ate the Children Last (2004), Beatrice and Virgil (2010) – a New York Times Bestseller and a Financial Times Best Book, 101 Letters to a Prime Minister (2012) – a collection of letters to the prime minister of Canada, and The High Mountains of Portugal (2016).

Lolita Chakrabarti is an award-winning actress and playwright. Her writing credits include: Red Velvet which opened at the Tricycle Theatre in London in 2012 before returning there in 2014, transferring to New York and the West End. Red Velvet was nominated for nine major awards including two Olivier Awards. Chakrabarti won the Evening Standard Theatre Award for Most Promising Playwright, The Critics’ Circle Award for Most Promising Playwright and the AWA Award for Arts and Culture.

Max Webster was the inaugural Baylis Director at The Old Vic and is now an Associate Director at the theatre where his work includes Fanny and Alexander, Cover My Tracks and Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax. His other stage work includes the forthcoming The Merry Widow (ENO), The Jungle Book (Northampton/Fiery Angel UK tour), The Winter’s Tale (Lyceum, Edinburgh), and King Lear (Royal and Derngate, Northampton/UK tour).

The extraordinary animals are brought to life by Puppet and Movement Director Finn Caldwell, who began his career in the original company of the National Theatre’s international phenomenon War Horse. He is the Artistic Director of his own company Gyre & Gimble, for whom work includes: co-director/puppet designer of The Four Seasons: A Reimagining (Shakespeare’s Globe), The Hartlepool Monkey (UK tour) and The Elephantom (National Theatre/West End).

Caldwell’s other work includes: director of puppetry/movement for Angels in America (National Theatre/Broadway), The Light Princess (National Theatre), War Horse (West End/Internationally) and Groundhog Day (Old Vic/Broadway).

Casting for the West End transfer of Life of Pi will be announced in due course.

Tickets go on General Sale today, Friday, October 11, 2019. For more information and a teaser trailer, visit www.lifeofpionstage.com/.