New season at the Stephen Joseph unveiled as Ayckbourn celebrates 80th birthday

Artistic director of the Stephen Joseph Theatre unveils the new summer repertory season
Artistic director of the Stephen Joseph Theatre unveils the new summer repertory season

From family meltdowns to monsters, from Elvis to tap dancing – the Stephen Joseph Theatre promises something for everyone this season.

The year culminates in a Scarborough spin on Treasure Island – apt as the Hispaniola, the ship featured in Robert Louis Stevenson’s book, sails South Bay.

Artistic director of the Stephen Joseph Paul Robinson said: “In these times of uncertainty we are here to bring you a year of theatrical joy and adventure.

“The Stephen Joseph Theatre has a long tradition of combining artistic excellence with crowd-pleasing entertainment – this year is shaping up to be no different.”

When the plays are on and how to buy tickets

At the heart of the season, as ever, is Sir Alan Ayckbourn, who was artistic director of the theatre from 1972 to 2009.

The Scarborough-based playwright will premiere his 83rd play Birthdays Past, Birthdays Present at the theatre later this year.

The season will also see a revival of Season’s Greetings and it wll be the first time the comedy has been produced in the building which now houses the Round. It will also be sponsored by Filey Bay.

Sir Alan will be 80 in April and this year marks his 60th year as a playwright.

To mark the occasion of his birthday, Sir Alan will host a gala performance – 80 Years Young – a celebration of his writing for children and families at the theatre on Sunday September 29.

“The season will kick off, literally, with the joy that is Stepping Out,” said Robinson.

By Richard Harris, the award-winning comedy is set in a tap-dancing class and features a cast of 1o. It promises “laughter, drama and razzle-dazzzle”.

The season includes a world premiere of The Monstrous Heart, by Oliver Emanuel.

“It is set in a remote cottage where a long-estranged mum and daughter are reunited with incendiary consequences,” said Robinson.

“It is edge of your seat drama.”

In response to audience lobbying the season will start earlier. Award-winning comedy Martha, Josie and the Chinese Elvis will run from Thursday March 28 to Saturday April 20.

“It is about a dysfuncitonal northern family, with lots of Elvis hits and is very funny,” said Robinson.

Bringing the season to a close is Treasure Island, adapted by Nick Lane who is part of the team which brought Pinocchio and Alice in Wonderland to the Stephen Joseph stage.

The team also includes Scarborough-born Simon Slater who has been awarded the title of artistic associate director.

“This is in recognition of all the incredible work he has done as musical director and composer on so many shows including Alice, The 39 Steps and The Rise and Fall of Little Voice,” said Robinson.

“He has been my long-time collaborator and he has invested so much artistically in productions that audiences seem to love,” he said.

“We have worked hard to make it feel like there is something for everyone in this season.

“We cannot wait for you to uncover what promises to be a treasure trove of a year with us,” said Robinson.