After five years working for Sheffield Theatres, Paul Miller is taking a final bow as a director with his production of Wonderful Tennessee at the Lyceum.
Paul has been an associate director for Sheffield Theatres since 2009 and the work he has directed includes a production of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, starring John Simm of Life on Mars and Doctor Who fame, The Winter’s Tale and The Daughter-in-Law by DH Lawrence last year, Democracy by Michael Frayn and True West, written by Sam Shepard.
He is leaving to run the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond, London, taking over from its founder, Sam Walters.
Paul said of his departure: “It is a great shame. It’s been a wonderful time. This is my sixth production under this regime and I directed a couple of times before when Michael Grandage was here.
“It’s my first time directing at the Lyceum and I’ve worked in all three Sheffield Theatres spaces now.”
He continued: “I’ve been amazingly lucky to do the range of work that I have got to do here.
“I feel like the spaces here, particularly the Crucible itself, have enabled me to stretch my muscles hugely, like nowhere else.
“There’s an audience that’s been thrilling and wanting to go with us on this journey that’s included everything from miners washing off the coal dust to people in America wanting to kill each other. It’s been a wonderful journey around the world.”
Paul said that the highlight of his time in Sheffield was directing Hamlet.
He said: “Fairly obviously, it’s something pretty special in anyone’s life that I feel incredibly proud of having done, simply the fact of having scaled this famous Everest together with John Simm and an incredible cast.
“It feels like a collective achievement and was very exciting.”
Paul said that working on the current Brian Friel season had been an exciting project. All three theatres have shown plays from the Irish dramatist and Paul is directing Wonderful Tennessee, which premieres tonight.
He said: “We’ve been doing slightly unusual, unexpected plays. The idea was also to introduce him to a wider public.”
Paul said that Wonderful Tennessee was a very personal play for the writer, which had been overshadowed by the success of Dancing at Lughnasa.
The play is set in the modern day in Brian Friel’s native Donegal. The title refers to one of many songs that form part of the drama. Paul explained: “Friel has done a really, really neat thing and written one of the six characters to be a brilliant musician and accordionist.
“He has written the part in such a way that it can be played by someone who has to be a brilliant musician and performer. By very, very happy coincidence, Luke Carver Goss happens to be locally based.
“We scratched our heads and looked for the right person and then found him on our doorstep.”
Paul added that Sheffield Theatres has an exciting future ahead, involving more Sheffielders through the People’s Theatre project.
Wonderful Tennessee at the Lyceum from tonight until Saturday, March 8. Box office: at the Crucible, call 0114 2496000 or go online to www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk