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HistoryRegent’s Park Open Air Theatre was founded in 1932 and first opened with a production of Twelfth Night. Subsequent productions include George Bernard Shaw’s The Six of Calais (1934), a reprise of Twelfth Night (1934) and Vivien Leigh in Henry VIII (1936).
Throughout the next few decades, the theatre became synonymous with hosting Shakespeare texts. A variety of acclaimed actors played at the venue, including Felicity Kendal, Wayne Sleep, Judi Dench, Zoë Wanamaker and Toyah Wilcox, and in more recent years Benedict Cumberbatch, Ralph Fiennes, Jeremy Irons and Sheridan Smith.
Under the leadership of Ian Talbot, productions included Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Fantastic Mr Fox and The Boy Friend. Timothy Sheader took over as Artistic Director in 2007, with his 2008 season including Romeo and Juliet, Twelfth Night, the musical Gigi and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Further notable productions have included The Importance of Being Earnest (2009), an Olivier Award-winning production of Hello, Dolly! (2009), starring Samantha Spiro, The Crucible (2010) and The Comedy of Errors (2010). 2010 also saw Stephen Sondheim’s musical Into the Woods performed, starring Jenna Russell, Helen Dallimore and Hannah Waddingham, earning the Olivier Award for Best Musical Revival.
Later shows saw a revival of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2012) and Ragtime (2012), as well as an adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (2013) and Charlotte Wakefield in The Sound of Music (2013).
2014 saw productions of All My Sons, Hobson’s Choice and Gershwin musical Porgy and Bess. Subsequent shows included J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, Chekhov’s The Seagull and musical Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.
Michael Morpurgo’s Running Wild opened the 2016 season, followed by an Olivier Award-winning revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar, starring Tyrone Huntley.
2017 sees a new season, including On the Town, directed and choreographed by Drew McOnie and starring Danny Mac, Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities and Olivier Twist and the return of the Olivier Award-winning Jesus Christ Superstar, starring Declan Bennett and Tyrone Huntley.
The 2018 season includes a revival of Timothy Sheader's smash-hit production Peter Pan, followed by The Turn of the Screw, As You Like It and Dinosaur World Live. The big musical of the summer is Little Shop of Horrors.