National Theatre reopening with Michael Sheen on the bill

Sherna Noah, PA Senior Entertainment Correspondent
·2-min read

Michael Sheen will take to the stage at the National Theatre when it reopens in June.

The Staged actor, 52, will star in a production of Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas, in the Olivier Theatre.

After Life, a new play by Jack Thorne based on the film by Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda, will reopen the Dorfman Theatre.

Both productions will run until July 24, with socially distanced seating for the entire run.

A view of the National Theatre building on the South Bank in London
A view of the National Theatre building on the South Bank in London (Yui Mok/PA)

The shows will bring audiences back to the South Bank for the first time since closing last December.

The theatre’s director Rufus Norris said: “It’s been an incredibly difficult year for theatre, but I’m delighted to be able to confirm our reopening plans…. and to be sharing the news of our first two productions that will reopen the National Theatre in June.

“Both shows will play to socially distanced audiences and we look forward with cautious optimism to welcoming back larger audiences across our theatres soon.”

The National has been streaming plays – and asking for donations – with the likes of Frankenstein with Benedict Cumberbatch and One Man, Two Guvnors with James Corden airing on its YouTube channel.

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Norris said: “Sharing our work online and on television over the last year has enabled us to reach millions of people and continue to keep culture alive.

“But the magic of live theatre is what we can now begin to look towards, to creating work with our freelance artists and colleagues, to supporting young people’s creativity, and to bringing joy to audiences and communities through imaginative and inspiring live performance.”

After Life is described as “a surreal and powerfully human look at the way we live our lives, asking who you would choose to live with for eternity”.

It will reopen the Dorfman Theatre on June 2, while Under Milk Wood, also starring Karl Johnson and Sian Phillips, opens on June 16.

The Olivier, the largest of the three permanent theatres at the National, usually accommodates 1,150 people in its fan-shaped auditorium, but will seat around 500 with social distancing, and the production will be performed in-the-round. The Dorfman capacity will be 120.

Tickets go on sale on April 30, with more than 200 available for Under Milk Wood at £20, while nearly half the house for After Life will be £20.