The Lyric Theatre has announced a thrilling new season for 2019

Following on from its 50th anniversary year a host of major productions will help kick off the next chapter for one of Belfast's most beloved institutions

Lyric Theatre, Belfast will begin the follow-up to its 50th year celebrations with a season of world-class theatre and new writings. The newly announced spring season is themed on Transformation and is set to 'explore current cultural themes and their impact, as well as platform an array of artistic talent, old and new'.

The season opens with a Northern Ireland Opera and Lyric co-production of Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (February 2-23). It will be the Lyric’s second venture into the opera world under the guidance of NI Opera, following the success of last year's The Threepenny Opera.

March sees the return of a huge hit from 2016, a co-production with Bruiser theatre of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic spy thriller, The 39 Steps (March 2-31). Four fearless actors will play no fewer than 139 roles. Later in March a cast of 20 young actors from the Lyric Drama Studio will present Dark of the Moon (March 26-30), directed by Philip Crawford. After a successful run on Broadway, the play was directed by Peter Brook at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith in 1949. Seventy years on, its themes of love, intolerance, and religious fanaticism are still as poignant as ever.

Sweeney Todd 2

Julie Mullins and Steven Page in Sweeney Todd

The Lyric’s very first Artist-in-Residence, David Ireland returns to the theatre with the highly acclaimed Ulster American in a production by Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre (April 24-28). Ireland’s most recent play Cyprus Avenue won the James Tait Black Award 2017 and Best Play at the Irish Times Theatre Awards 2017.

Conor Mitchell’s commission for the Lyric, The Young Pornographers: A Concert Reading, a vibrant new musical play about censorship, betrayal and forbidden love set in 1950s Soviet Moscow, will receive a public staging on April 4.  

A major revival of Tennessee Williams’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play A Streetcar Named Desire will run from May 4 – 1 June 1, directed by Irish Times Theatre Award winning director Emma Jordan.

The first major new play of the year will be All Mod Cons by young Irish playwright Erica Murray (May 18 – June 8). In 2017, Erica was one of the first writers to take part in the Lyric’s inaugural New Playwrights programme, giving rise to the creation of All Mod Cons which was showcased as part of the Belfast International Arts Festival and the Origins Irish Theatre Festival in New York. Murray has also been announced as the Lyric’s Artist in Residence for 2019.

Other highlights of the spring programme include the Belfast Children’s Festival in early March with Cahoots’ Milo’s Hat Trick (March 8-13) and A Day in May (April 11), a play that examines the events that led up to that day in May 2015 when Ireland made history by becoming the first nation in the world to introduce marriage equality by popular vote. Following her sold out run last summer Nuala McKeever returns with her hilarious and poignant Letting Go or Losing It (April 16-18).

The Naughton Studio also plays host to Bat the Father, Rabbit the Son by the talented Donal O’Kelly (February 5-6); Ruby! by Little Willow productions (February 13-17); The Trials of Oscar Wilde by Merlin Holland, grandson of Oscar Wilde (February 19-24); Tryst by Sickle Moon Productions (January 31 – February 2), The Big Fellow, an inquisitive play about Michael Collins by Declan Gorman (15-17 Mar); The Harvest by Jane McCarthy presented by the dynamic New Theatre from Dublin (April 9-10); and the always adventurous Commedia of Errors return with I Am Maura (May 2-4).

Paperboy, a huge musical hit last summer, adapted from Tony Macaulay’s book of the same name by British Youth Music Theatre (formerly Youth Music Theatre UK), returns in August (August 1-4) and as previously announced Sir Ian McKellen will take to the Lyric stage in his vibrant one man show as he visits 80 theatres for his 80th birthday (July 25-26).

Paperboy

Tony Macauley's Paperboy

Already looking forward to Christmas 2019 and the Lyric will move from Wonderland to Neverland. It has been revealed that the boy who never grew old Peter Pan will be the family Christmas offering, in a new musical written and directed by Paul Boyd.

Executive Producer at Lyric, Jimmy Fay said: 'The title for the programme for 2019 Transformation was chosen to address issues of change and choice. The Lyric’s programme is announced in the looming shadow of Brexit, a time of apprehension in our community, and the Lyric needs to be at the forefront of exploring the cultural impact that this sense of the unknown will have and the turbulence that change brings in its wake. We are excited to present a full programme of new and classic writing that help us explore these ideas, and are delighted to welcome Erica Murray as Artist-in-Residence for the next year, thanks to the continued support of our funders and sponsors.'

Roisín McDonough, Chief Executive at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland which is the Lyric’s Principal Funder, said: 'Alongside the excellent Lyric productions and top class-visiting shows this season, I want also to acknowledge the outstanding work that the Lyric does to involve wider audiences in all of this and more, including captioned performances, discount ticket incentives, working with young offenders, and touring to schools, community and youth groups across Northern Ireland. The Lyric shares the Arts Council’s commitment to ensuring that everyone, regardless of background, has the opportunity to enjoy great theatre, all made possible with support from National Lottery and public funding for the arts.'

For further information and bookings for the spring season visit www.lyrictheatre.co.uk, Tel: 028 9038 1081 or follow Lyric Theatre on Facebook and Twitter.