September 30, 2014
Royal Shakespeare Company’s Wolf Hall headed to Broadway
by Nick Davies
No longer content merely to perform William Shakespeare’s history plays about the Lancastrian and Tudor kings, the Royal Shakespeare Company started performing stage adaptations of Hilary Mantel’s historical novels, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, earlier this year in London. Now, Erik Piepenburg writes for the New York Times blog Arts Beat, the successful show has made plans to come to Broadway in the US.
The two plays are based on Mantel’s bestselling books, which follow a fictionalized version of Thomas Cromwell, an English lawyer who rose to prominence as chief minister to Henry VIII. Adapted for the stage by Mike Poulton, the double-feature has been a bit hit in the UK, receiving what Piepenburg describes as “overwhelmingly positive reviews” and racking up strong ticket sales.
Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies will continue playing in the West End through October 4 before moving across the pond, where they’re being rebranded as Wolf Hall Parts 1 & 2 (no word yet on plans for an adaptation of Mantel’s concluding chapter of the trilogy, due out next year, will eventually be adapted as well). Both plays will be directed by Jeremy Herrin — making his New York debut — and actors Ben Miles, Lydia Leonard, and Nathaniel Parker will reprise their London roles as Cromwell, Anne Boleyn, and Henry VIII, respectively.
Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies are sizable books, so it’s not surprising that the performance of both plays takes five-and-a-half hours of on-stage time. For the brave folks who want to see the whole production in one evening, there is a dinner break (two-and-a-half hours) between the two plays; otherwise theater & beheading enthusiasts can buy tickets to each half on different days.
Previews for Wolf Hall Parts 1 & 2 will start in late March 2015 at the Winter Garden Theatre on Broadway, with opening night scheduled for April 9.
Nick Davies was a publicist at Melville House.