American Premiere Set for Stage Adaptation of 'The King's Speech'

The Weinstein Co.
From left: Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush in 'The King's Speech'

The play by Oscar-winning screenwriter David Seidler is part of the 2019-20 season at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, along with hit London musical 'Six' and a new opera by 'Fun Home' composer Jeanine Tesori.

The stage adaptation of 2011 best picture Oscar winner The King's Speech will have its North American premiere this fall at Chicago Shakespeare Theater.

The play was adapted by David Seidler, who picked up another of the film's four Oscars for his original screenplay about King George VI's paralyzing fear of public speaking and the unconventional methods of Australian actor and speech therapist Lionel Logue, who helped the reluctant monarch gain the confidence necessary to address a nation in crisis.

The Tom Hooper movie starred Colin Firth, who won the best actor Oscar as George VI, with Geoffrey Rush as Logue, and Helena Bonham Carter as Queen Elizabeth.

While Seidler had first conceived the story as a project for the theater, only after the film's success did he sit down to write the play. However, despite strong reviews, its 2012 debut in London's West End, directed by Adrian Noble, stammered to an early halt after just two months, with producers admitting their mistake in following so quickly after the release of the widely seen film.

Michael Wilson will direct the play in Chicago, with the production running Sept. 12-Oct. 27.

As previously announced, the Chicago Shakespeare Theater slate for next season will include the summer North American premiere of Six. The new musical that became a popular West End hit reassembles the six wives of Henry VIII in an electrifying pop concert that remixes five centuries of history into a celebration of 21st century female empowerment.

The London production received five Olivier Award nominations, but while it was tipped by some pundits to win best musical, the show — written by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, and directed by Moss and Jamie Armitage — went home from last Sunday's ceremony empty-handed.

Six will run May 14-June 30 in Chicago. Broadway producer Kevin McCollum (Rent, In the Heights) is attached, indicating that the CST staging could be a test drive for New York plans. 

Also on the CST season lineup, running June 19-28, 2020, is Blue, a chamber opera by Tony-winning Fun Home composer Jeanine Tesori, with a libretto by Tazewell Thompson, who will also direct. The piece deals with an African-American family devastated by tragedy, drawing on contemporary events, as well as black literature from James Baldwin's The Fire Next Time through Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between the World and Me.

A co-production of Glimmerglass Festival, Washington National Opera and Lyric Opera of Chicago, Blue will have its premiere at Glimmerglass this summer, running July 14-Aug. 22,