U.K. production to coincide with London Olympics

LONDON — A stage adaptation of the Oscar-winning Olympic-themed pic “Chariots of Fire” leads the 2012 slate at London’s off-West End Hampstead Theater.

Opening just ahead of the London Olympics with previews beginning May 9, “Chariots of Fire” is adapted from the 1981 Enigma Prods. film about two runners facing down anti-semitism in the 1924 Olympics. The pic won four Oscars, including best pic and original screenplay for Colin Welland.

Adapted by rising U.K. scribe Mike Bartlett (“Cock,” “Earthquakes in London”), it is designed by Miriam Buether, lit by Rick Fisher (“Billy Elliot”) and helmed by Hampstead a.d. Edward Hall. The production will also feature music from Vangelis’ Oscar-winning score plus additional music and arrangements by Jason Carr, Tony-winner for “Sunday in the Park With George.”

As part of the London 2012 Festival — the finale of the Cultural Olympiad — the theater will also host “DruidMurphy.”

Billed as “an epic tale of Irish emigration spanning 1846-1980,” this is a cycle of three plays by Tom Murphy, “Conversations on a Homecoming,” “A Whistle in the Dark” and “Famine,” performed by Ireland’s Druid theater company. Garry Hynes, Tony-winning director of “The Beauty Queen of Leenane,” helms a company of 17 actors across all three titles.

Hall’s third season at the helm also sees two world preems in the studio space. “Blue Heart Afternoon” by Nigel Gearing, is a comedy about integrity and fame as discussed by a Jewish songwriter and a German movie star under the shadow of the 1951 House Un-American Activities Committee. Helmed by Tamara Harvey it runs April 5-May 12.

Nick Whitby’s “The Complaint” is a portrait of a woman lodging a complaint and spiraling down into a Kafkaesque nightmare that turns murderous. Helmed by Simon Usher, it runs May 17-June 16.

The season also includes a co-production with English National Opera of the English-language preem of “Jacob Lenz” by German composer Wolfgang Rihm and Hall’s all-male productions of Shakespeare’s “Henry V” and “The Winter’s Tale” with his own Propellor theater company.

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