Timothy Sheader

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Timothy Sheader, 2015

Timothy Sheader (born 23 November 1971 in Scarborough, North Yorkshire) is a British theatre director. Sheader read Law with French at the University of Birmingham[1] and then became a Trainee Director at the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond followed by an Assistant Director with the Royal Shakespeare Company for two years.[2] He was appointed artistic director at the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre in November 2007, being responsible for productions from the 2008 season.[3]


Sheader's first season, produced in 2008, consisted of productions of Romeo and Juliet, Twelfth Night, Lerner and Loewe's Gigi[4] - starring Millicent Martin as Mamita and Topol as Honore - and an especially adapted production of A Midsummer Night's Dream for family audiences.


Productions in 2009 included Much Ado About Nothing, The Importance of Being Earnest, The Tempest which was adapted for family audiences, and Hello, Dolly!. The latter won several awards, including the Olivier Award for Best Revival of a Musical and Best Actress in a Musical for its star Samantha Spiro.[5]


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 time that Into the Woods had been performed outside and won the Olivier Award for "Best Musical Revival." (This staging would be adapted in the U.S. in 2012 by The Public Theatre for their Shakespeare in the Park festival that season.)[6]


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) [7] and the musical Crazy for You, which 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.[8]


For the 2012 season, two productions were run across the entire season in repertoire: the Tony Award-winning Ragtime the Musical and Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream'.'[9]


The 2013 season included productions of To Kill a Mockingbird, Pride and Prejudice (adapted for the stage by Simon Reade), The Winter's Tale (re-imagined for everyone aged six and over) and The Sound of Music.[10]


The 2014 season included productions of All My Sons, Hobson's Choice, Twelfth Night (re-imagined for everyone aged six and over) and Porgy and Bess. To Kill A Mockingbird returned to the Open Air Theatre ahead of a major UK tour.[11]


The 2015 season began with Peter Pan, directed by Sheader and Liam Steel. The Seagull and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers followed, directed respectively by Matthew Dunster and Rachel Kavanaugh. Lord of the Flies returned to the Open Air Theatre for one week, before embarking upon a major UK tour.[12]


In November 2015 the 2016 season was announced. Running Wild by Michael Morpurgo opened the season as a co-production with Chichester Festival Theatre. The play was directed by Sheader and Dale Rooks. It received a good critical response; deemed "a winner" by the Daily Telegraph.[13] Henry V brought William Shakespeare back to the Park, and was followed by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's Jesus Christ Superstar, which played to sold-out audiences, also directed by Sheader. Jesus Christ Superstar won a Laurence Olivier Award for Best Musical Revival in 2017. The sell-out production of Pride and Prejudice returned at the end of the season ahead of a major UK tour.


In November 2016 it was announced that On The Town would open the 2017 season, followed by Dickens Uncovered, a new adaptation of A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens which would be directed by Sheader, and Oliver Twist adapted for younger audiences, Oliver Twist created for everyone aged six and over. Jesus Christ Superstar returned to conclude the season. In January 2017 it was announced that the theatre had won London Theatre of the Year at The Stage Awards.[14]


The 2018 season welcomed the return of Peter Pan, a revival of their 2015 Olivier Award-nominated production. For a limited run, in a co-production with the English National Opera, Artistic Director Timothy Sheader rediscovered Benjamin Britten's The Turn of the Screw, receiving acclaimed reviews.[15] Max Webster directed William Shakespeare's As You Like It. For families, Dinosaur World Live, a new interactive show played daytime performances. The season concluded with the mean green monster musical Little Shop of Horrors, which played to critical acclaim.[16]


The 2019 season opened with Thornton Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Our Town (16 May – 8 June), directed by Ellen McDougall, Artistic Director of the Gate Theatre. Continuing their collaboration with English National Opera, they present Engelbert Humperdinck’s opera Hansel and Gretel (14 June – 22 June) - members of the ENO Orchestra and was conducted by Ben Glassberg, with direction by Open Air Theatre’s Artistic Director, Timothy Sheader. Dominic Hill, Artistic Director of the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, then directed a new production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (28 June – 27 July). To conclude the season, Jamie Lloyd directed Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Evita (2 August – 21 September). The theatre's multi award-winning[17] production of Jesus Christ Superstar also transferred to the Barbican Centre for just 60 performances from 4 July - 24 August 2019, prior to a 50th anniversary tour of the US.[18]


The Open Air Theatre's 2020 season will open with the world premiere of 101 Dalmatians, a new musical based on the book by Dodie Smith (16 May to 21 June) followed by William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet directed by Kimberley Sykes (27 June to 25 July), Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel directed by Timothy Sheader (31 July to 19 September) with Dragons and Mythical Beasts from (11 August to 6 September).[19]

Other theatre work[edit]

In 2013 Sheader directed a new production of Barnum at Chichester Festival Theatre. The previous year he directed The Magistrate at the Royal National Theatre which starred John Lithgow. At the beginning of 2015 he directed My Fair Lady at the Aarhus Teater in Denmark. Other productions that Sheader has directed include Imagine This (New London Theatre); Hobson's Choice, The Clandestine Marriage, Love in a Maze (Watermill); Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella, The Three Musketeers (Bristol Old Vic); The Star Throwers, Unless (Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough); Misconceptions (Derby Playhouse); Streetcar to Tennessee (Young Vic); Achilles (Edinburgh Fringe First); Wild, Wild Women (Orange Tree); Arms and the Man (National Tour) Piaf, Sweet Charity (Sheffield Crucible).[20] 2018 also saw Sheader's Jesus Christ Superstar play at Chicago's Lyric Opera. [21] In 2019, Sheader directed The Monstrous Child [22] at the Royal Opera House.


  1. ^ "Open Air Theatre in Regent's Park: Desert island risks". The Telegraph. Retrieved 25 May 2011.
  2. ^ "The Big Interview: Timothy Sheader". The Stage. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  3. ^ "Timothy Sheader: 'I want to make epic theatre with a very strong aesthetic'". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 April 2011.
  4. ^ "Gigi, Open Air Theatre Regent's Park, London". The Independent. Retrieved 23 October 2011.
  5. ^ "Olivier Awards: the winners". The Telegraph. Retrieved 22 March 2010.
  6. ^ "Public Theater Announces 2012 Shakespeare in the Park Dates". The Stage. Retrieved 8 March 2012.
  7. ^ "Pericles reimagined for everyone aged six and over". Regent's Park Open Air Theatre. Retrieved 2 July 2011.
  8. ^ "Open Air's Crazy for You Transfers to Novello, 8 Oct". What's On Stage. Retrieved 8 September 2011.
  9. ^ "Artistic Director accepts award". The Scarborough News. Retrieved 16 June 2012.
  10. ^ Regent's Park Open Air Theatre, Annual review 2013 (Accessed 1 January 2014)
  11. ^ "To Kill A Mockingbird UK Tour". British Theatre. Retrieved 5 February 2015.
  12. ^ "Lord of the Flies". Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  13. ^ "Running Wild: is Michael Morpurgo's latest a match for War Horse? - review". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 20 May 2016.
  14. ^ "Regent's Park Open Air Theatre (London Theatre of the Year) - The Stage Award". YouTube. Retrieved 2 February 2017.
  15. ^ "The Turn of the Screw review". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 June 2018.
  16. ^ "Theatre review: Little Shop of Horrors at the Open Air Theatre". The Times. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  17. ^ "Evening Standard Award-Winning Jesus Christ Superstar Returns". Evening Standard. Retrieved 7 November 2018.
  18. ^ "Jesus Christ Superstar Barbican". Barbican Centre. Retrieved 7 November 2018.
  19. ^ "Regent's Park Open Air Theatre announce 2020 season". Official London Theatre. Retrieved 2019-09-21.
  20. ^ "Sweet Charity Review". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 December 2002.
  21. ^ "Jesus Christ Superstar, Lyric". Lyric Opera of Chicago. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  22. ^ "Jesus Christ Superstar, Lyric". Royal Opera House. Retrieved 4 March 2019.