Internationally acclaimed star of stage and screen Miriam Margolyes (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows) returns to Melbourne Theatre Company as the cantankerous Miss Shepherd in Alan Bennett’s extraordinary and mostly true story, The Lady in the Van, directed by Dean Bryant (An Ideal Husband).
Made famous by the book and film of the same name, The Lady in the Van is a bittersweet, moving memoir about the legendary writer himself and his very peculiar tenant who ‘temporarily’ parked her dilapidated van outside Bennett’s London home – and stayed for 15 years.
Opening on Thursday 7 February at Arts Centre Melbourne, Playhouse, this heartfelt production also features Fiona Choi (The Family Law), Daniel Frederiksen (Matilda: The Musical), Claire Healy (Get a Real Job), James Millar (Matilda: The Musical), Jillian Murray (Jack Irish), Richard Piper (Twelfth Night) and Dalip Sondhi (Secret City).
Dean Bryant said, ‘The Lady in the Van is a sharp and affectionate look at a decade and a half in Alan Bennett's life when Miss Shepherd, both an irritant and a mystery, appeared and brought outsized colour and interest along with her. I can't wait to work again with the life-force that is Miriam Margolyes and build this unforgettable character with her.’
In 1974 Alan Bennett befriended Miss Mary Shepherd, an eccentric, irascible and rather smelly old lady. Was she a fugitive on the run? A talented pianist? A nun? Or just an old lady struggling with mental health and homelessness?
Alan Bennett has been one of the UK’s leading dramatists since the success of Beyond the Fringe in the 1960s. His television series Talking Heads has become a modern-day classic, as have many of his works for the stage, including Forty Years On, The Lady in the Van, A Question of Attribution, The Madness of George III and his adaptation of The Wind in the Willows. The History Boys won Evening Standard, Critics' Circle and Olivier awards, and the South Bank Award. On Broadway, it won five New York Drama Desk Awards, four Outer Critics' Circle Awards, a New York Drama Critics' Award for Best Play, a New York Drama League Award and six Tonys including Best Play. The film of The History Boys was released in 2006. Bennett's other plays include The Habit Of Art, People, and the short plays Hymn and Cocktail Sticks (Untold Stories). His latest play Allelujah! has opened at The Bridge Theatre in London is July 2018.
Dean Bryant is one of Australia’s most accomplished and versatile directors. He has directed numerous productions for MTC including An Ideal Husband, Wild, Vivid White, Born Yesterday, Skylight, I’ll Eat You Last and Next to Normal. Dean also worked on Macbeth, The Drowsy Chaperone, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (and STC season), Hitchcock Blonde and Urinetown (and STC season) for MTC. His other directing credits include Assassins, Sweet Charity (Helpmann Award, Best Director of a Musical) and Little Shop of Horrors (Sydney Theatre Award, Best Director of a Musical) for Hayes Theatre Company, for Opera Australia Two Weddings, One Bride and Anything Goes (also GFO), Once We Lived Here (London), DreamSong (Theatre Works), Straight (Red Stitch), The Last Five Years, Prodigal, Virgins: A Musical Threesome and five musicals for The Production Company. With composer Mathew Frank, he wrote Green Room award-winning musicals Prodigal and Once We Lived Here. Dean created verbatim piece Gaybies (Midsumma, Darlinghurst Theatre Company). Dean is Worldwide Associate Director of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert – The Musical.
Cast Fiona Choi, Daniel Frederiksen, Claire Healy, Miriam Margolyes, James Millar, Jillian Murray, Richard Piper, Dalip Sondhi
Director Dean Bryant
Set & Costume Designer Alicia Clements
Lighting Designer Matt Scott
Composer & Sound Designer Mathew Frank
Voice & Dialect Coach Leith McPherson
2 February – 6 March
Thursday 7 February
Arts Centre Melbourne, Playhouse
03 8688 0800
‘One of the saddest, funniest, and most distinguished offerings for years.’
‘Guaranteed to please absolutely everyone.’