The world’s oldest working music hall announces its glorious 2020 spring season, kicking off the year with a wonderful array of theatre and music that truly embodies Wilton’s expansive and imaginative programming.
Firstly Wilton’s welcomes the London International Mime Festival with a hilarious and deeply moving homage to two men that changed the world of comedy forever, The Strange Tale of Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel (14 –18 January). A Told by an Idiot and Theatre Royal Plymouth production, with Royal & Derngate Northampton and Unity Theatre, Liverpool, The Strange Tale of Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel plays fast and loose with the facts, boasting an original piano score played live every night.
The Watermill Ensemble, famous for their inventive and musical takes on Shakespeare classics, return to Wilton’s with two bold new productions performed in repertory by an exceptional ensemble cast. The company will bring an ethereal and magical A Midsummer Night’s Dream (28 January – 15 February) to the stage as they combine the intoxicating soulful sounds of Nina Simone and Billie Holiday, performed live by the cast, with one of Shakespeare’s comedies to create a show fizzing with magic, love and a large dose of chaos… In blazing contrast is a powerful, passionate new interpretation of Macbeth (22 January – 8 February), using the fierce rhythms and reverberations of Johnny Cash, The xx and the Rolling Stones to tell the story of greed, ambition and desire.
Wilton’s Music Hall is delighted to welcome back Mark Bruce Company with their production of Return to Heaven (28 February – 14 March), an intricately choreographed, beautifully performed piece that draws on the mythology of Ancient Egypt. Two explorers searching the dark mysteries of the ancient world enter a land beyond time and death, and soon a perilous journey ensues as the couple must play their role in the resurrection of an ancient deity. Visceral, poignant and laced with dark humour, this visually stunning production creates a mythology and symbolism of its own.
Another triumphant return to the Wilton’s stage is OperaGlass Works, whose inaugural production of The Rake’s Progress at Wilton’s blew audiences away; now they bring to life Benjamin Britten’s The Turn of the Screw (25 March – 4 April) with libretto by Myfanwy Piper and story by Henry James, conducted by John Wilson, directed by Selina Cadell and designed by Tom Piper. A mesmerising and compelling production set against the atmospheric backdrop of Wilton’s, it tells the tale of a housekeeper and two young orphaned children who welcome an eager new governess from London to their old English country house and a ghostly, eerie series of events unfolds.
It’s all aboard Gilbert & Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore (15 April – 9 May) as Regan De Wynter Williams Productions present their rollicking and joyous production with infectious tunes, a beautifully constructed libretto and a story dealing with the age-old conundrum of love between social classes. From the award-winning team behind The Pirates of Penzance, which took Wilton’s by storm earlier this year, this all-male cast will bring Gilbert and Sullivan’s classic tale to life.
Continuing with music, Artists Unknown (20 – 21 March) pairs the artists you’re yet to fall in love with the artists you’ve loved for years. The catch? Audiences won’t be told who is playing until they arrive at Wilton’s for a night of music they won’t forget. Whilst the ever-wonderful OneTrackMinds returns this spring (27 March & 2 April) with another vibrant selection of writers, thinkers and musicians, each presenting a thought-provoking story about a song that has changed their life. A legend of a different kind, former music hall singer-turned-rap star and Wilton’s favourite Ida Barr has thrilled listeners globally with her brand of Artificial Hip Hop and now she’s hitting up the East End’s dopest stage with her show Granarchist on 31 March.
It’s science and silliness galore as magicians, time-travellers and – it turns out – legitimately qualified scientists Morgan & West bring their fun-filled, bonkers and mind-boggling extravaganza Unbelievable Science (7 – 9 April) to Wilton’s, for everyone from seven to 107!
The masters of spoken word entertainment, Poet in the City present three wonderful performances of live poetry, performance and discussion exploring the role of failure as a catalyst for change, focusing on the works of Samuel Beckett with Fail Better, The Little Green Notebook of Che Guevara and James Baldwin: Nobody Knows my Name (17 February, 16 – 17 March).
A phenomenal fusion of theatre, stand-up and cinematography, Walking to Jerusalem (18 – 19 March) tells the story of more than one hundred walkers who made the pilgrimage from London to Jerusalem in 2017, a year which marked the centenary of the Balfour Declaration. Monasteries, mountain passes, Bedouin camps and desert wadis across Europe and the Middle East are brought to life in this playful and inventive blend of theatre and stand-up, written by playwright, actor, and musician Justin Butcher, most famous for his play Scaramouche Jones. Walking to Jerusalem is directed by acclaimed theatre maker Matilda Reith with a haunting and evocative soundscape by Jack C. Arnold and video montage created from live footage along the route, by award-winning artist Damian Hale.
Wilton’s prides itself on supporting emerging talent across the arts, and music is no exception. To celebrate, Wilton’s will be holding the first Wilton’s Music 4all Festival (11 – 16 May) where up-and-coming new talent are given the opportunity to be mentored by key industry experts, use rehearsal space, receive a commissioning fee and then perform at the festival itself, on the same stage as the likes of Duran Duran, Adam Ant, Kate Bush and Mumford and Sons. Three of the best emerging artists from the worlds of Opera; Contemporary & Jazz; Popular Rock & Indie; Urban, Electronic & DJ; and Cabaret will be chosen from entrants. Watch this space for more exciting details on this unique and exciting event.
From collaborating with some of the most exciting and prestigious theatre and dance companies out there to honing new talent and providing a platform for emerging artists, Wilton’s Music Hall is a true hub of creativity, with 2020 looking to be their most sensational year yet.