Storm Boy, one of Australia's most beloved tales, will come to the stage next year to mark the 50th anniversary of Colin Thiele's novel about a lonely boy's friendship with an abandoned pelican.
The play is a coup for Perth's Barking Gecko youth theatre company, whose artistic director, John Sheedy, convinced Sydney Theatre Company co-artistic directors Cate Blanchett and Andrew Upton to pool their resources in a co-production.
Storm Boy is one of the highlights of STC's 2013 season, announced by Blanchett and Upton last night.
The season also includes an adaptation of Kate Grenville's lauded novel The Secret River by Andrew Bovell (When the Rain Stops Falling, Lantana), which will come to His Majesty's Theatre in February for the Perth International Arts Festival.
Helpmann Award-winning WA actor Trevor Jamieson will star in both productions, as Fingerbone Bill in Storm Boy and alongside Perth-born actor Jeremy Sims in The Secret River, which will be directed by Neil Armfield.
Set in the early 19th century, The Secret River explores the conflict between transported thief William Thornhill and the Dharug people who own the land he tries to settle.
Blanchett and Upton also announced a new production of Tom Stoppard's comic masterpiece Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, to star WA exports Tim Minchin and Toby Schmitz, in August.
In November, Hugo Weaving and Richard Roxburgh will pair up as the tramps in Waiting for Godot.
Storm Boy follows a boy living on the rugged Coorong coast and his relationship with his father, an outcast Aboriginal man, and the orphaned pelican Mr Percival.
Directed by Sheedy and adapted by Tom Holloway, the play will be the first dramatisation of Thiele's 1963 book since a Bell Shakespeare production in 1996. The film version, starring David Gulpilil as Fingerbone and Greg Rowe in the title role, has been a family favourite since its release in 1976.
"Storm Boy was one of the stories that remained with me through my childhood and there are many of us that still identify with the themes of the story," Sheedy said. "There is a real sense of nostalgia with the friendship between Storm Boy and Mr Percival and I'm hoping to introduce a new generation to Storm Boy's world as well as reintroduce it to many."
Storm Boy's Perth season will be at the Heath Ledger Theatre in October next year.
After five years as co-artistic director with her husband, Blanchett is stepping aside as Upton continues at the helm.
Blanchett will appear with French star Isabelle Huppert in a new version of Jean Genet's The Maids by Upton and Benedict Andrews..
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