Timothy Sheader became Artistic Director of the theatre in November 2007. His first season, produced in 2008, consisted of productions of Romeo and Juliet, Twelfth Night, Lerner and Loewe's Gigi - starring Millicent Martin as Mamita and Topol as Honore - and an especially adapted production of A Midsummer Night's Dream for family audiences.
2009 saw Timothy Sheader's second season as Artistic Director of the theatre. Productions included Much Ado About Nothing, The Importance of Being Earnest, The Tempest (adapted for family audiences) and Hello, Dolly!. Dolly! won several awards, including the Olivier Award for Best Revival of a Musical and Best Actress in a Musical for its star Samantha Spiro.
In 2010, the theatre presented new productions of The Crucible, The Comedy of Errors and Macbeth, which was adapted for younger audiences. The Season musical was Into the Woods, by Stephen Sondheim. The production starred Hannah Waddingham, as the Witch, Jenna Russell, as the Baker's Wife, and Helen Dallimore, as Cinderella. It was the first (and only) time that Into the Woods had been performed outside and won the Olivier Award for 'Best Musical Revival".
The 2011 season included productions of Lord of the Flies, The Beggar's Opera, Shakespeare's Pericles (re-imagined for everyone aged six and over) and the Musical Crazy for You. Crazy for You received the highest number of five star reviews of any musical opening in 2011 and became the first Open Air Theatre production to transfer directly into the West End, where it played at the Novello Theatre.
For the 2012 season, two productions are running across the entire season in repertoire: The Tony Award-winning Ragtime the Musical directed by Timothy Sheader and Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream directed by Matthew Dunster.
Opening the 2013 season, Harper Lee’s American classic To Kill a Mockingbird, directed by Timothy Sheader and adapted for the stage by Christopher Sergel, will run from 16 May – 15 June, followed by Jane Austen’s ultimate romantic comedy, Pride and Prejudice (20 June – 20 July). A production of William Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, tailored specifically for children aged six and over, will run alongside from 29 June - 20 July.
Concluding the 2013 season, The Sound of Music directed by Rachel Kavanaugh will play from 25 July - 7 September. It will be the first time that a work by the hit musical-writing partnership of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II has been staged at the Open Air Theatre.
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“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”
—Bible: New Testament 2 Timothy 3:16-17.