Tom Hooper's Oscar-winning film, originally inspired by an unproduced play, is set for a West End adaptation and Broadway transfer
A theatre run for Tom Hooper's tale of George VI's struggle to overcome a debilitating stutter with the help of an eccentric therapist has long been on the cards. Screenwriter David Seidler wrote a stage treatment "as a way to work out the relationships among the characters for himself", according to his manager Jeff Aghassi in an interview last year with The New York Times, though the screenplay is believed to have come first.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the film first came to the attention of actor Geoffrey Rush when a proposal for a theatre production landed on his doorstep. Rush, who went on to play speech therapist Lionel Logue, saw the potential for a movie and helped bring the film to the screen after taking a producer's role.
Reports suggest the stage version will open at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford for a three to five week run before transferring to the West End in March 2012. The plan is for it to arrive on Broadway around September or October. Casting is currently under way.
The existence of a stage treatment was also highlighted by Hooper in his Oscar's acceptance speech earlier this year when he thanked his mother for alerting him to its existence.
"My mum in 2007 was invited by some Australian friends ? she's Australian in London ? to a fringe theatre play reading of an unproduced, unrehearsed play called The King's Speech," he said. "Now she's never been invited to a play reading in her entire life before. She almost didn't go because it didn't sound exactly promising, but thank God she did because she came home, rang me up and said, 'Tom, I think I found your next film.' So with this tonight, I honour you, and the moral of the story is: listen to your mother."
Producer Michael Alden told the Times last year that the stage version, which he said featured a cast of eight or nine, would be a very different experience to the film.
"Seeing an unusual relationship develop and deepen in a live stage play, there's something very satisfying about it that you don't get on screen," he said. "There's also a lot more stuff in the play than there is in the movie. So I don't think you can really put a price point on this. People who love the theatre would have very good reason to see this play."
The King's Speech won four Academy Awards in March, including best film, best director for Hooper, best original screenplay for Seidler and best actor for star Colin Firth.