Frank Van Laecke
Frank Van Laecke has built a rich international career both as an author and as a director. He has received numerous awards both at home and abroad for his work in the theater, including a nomination for the coveted Lawrence Olivier Award in Britain.
After working as a writer on a number of successful TV series for Flemish television, Van Laecke took his first professional steps – under the impulse of Linda Lepomme – as director for the Musical Department of the Royal Ballet of Flanders. Since then he has directed plays, operas and musicals for both theater and television.
From 1997 to 1999, Van Laecke served as Artistic Director of the Brussels-based production company “Music Hall” and in 1998 he directed Peter Schaffer’s Equus for the Koninklijke Nederlandse Schouwburg (Royal Dutch Theatre) in Antwerp.
In 2003, Van Laecke created the musical The Prince of Africa, with music by Dirk Brossé. English actor David Suchet (best known for his television portrayal of Agatha Christie’s great Belgian detective Hercule Poirot) was the show’s narrator. That fall, he premiered his symphonic Christmas story Santa, which was produced the following year at the Beacon Theatre in New York. Together with Paul Berkenman and Dirk Brossé, he wrote the musical Sacco & Vanzetti.
He directed the musicals Hollywood by Night, Je Anne, Jesus Christ Superstar, Jubilee 15, She Loves Me (four Flemish Musical Awards nominations), the European premiere of Jekyll & Hyde, Annie, Oliver! (nomination best director), Yours Anne, Rembrandt (four nominations, winning two), The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, Camelot, The King and I, Anatevka (nomination best director), Tell Me on a Sunday and Domino (prize of the audience 2012).
On September 15, 2001, Antwerp saw the premiere of Kuifje en de Zonnetempel (Tintin and the Temple of the Sun), a spectacular adventure musical that Van Laecke wrote in collaboration with composer Dirk Brossé and lyricist Seth Gaaikema and directed for the Antwerp production company Tabas & Co in collaboration with Moulinsart. The French theater magazine Télémoustique hailed Tintin, Le Temple du Soleil (the French-language version of the show adapted by Didier Van Cauwelaert) as the best French-language theatrical event of 2002. Kuifje earned eight nominations at the Flemish Musical Awards 2007, and Van Laecke won Best Director.
Van Laecke also directed Dracula de Musical for Music Hall (nominated for 10 Flemish Musical Awards of which it won four, including best direction).
In October 2008, Van Laecke’s award-winning musical collaboration with Allard Blom and Dirk Brossé, Daens (Studio 100), based on the Oscar-nominated Belgian film about the priest Adolf Daens, who fought for workers’ rights in the textile industry, premiered in Antwerp. Daens was embraced by both press and public and received a monumental 13 Flemish Musical Awards nominations, winning eight including another “Best Director 2009” award for Van Laecke.
The musical Ben X, based on a book by Nic Balthazar (a MVV production) took “musical” to another level. Rave reviews were the result for this wayward production about a boy suffering from autism.
In 2006 Van Laecke directed Vanessa Van Durmes in her autobiographical monologue Kijk mama, ik dans (Look Mummy, I’m Dancing) in a co-production between Van Durmes’s company Swan Lake, the Théâtre de la Ville in Paris, and La Rose des Vents in Villeneuve d’Ascq. In 2007 the French version, Regarde mamam, je danse, opened at the Théâtre de la Ville in Paris. The production still tours to great critical and public acclaim with performances in Australia, France, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
In the fall of 2010, Van Laecke directed Aida for NTGent. In February 2011 Van Laecke directed Terence McNally’s Masterclass with Pia Douwes as Maria Callas. This production not only earned unanimous praise from reviewers, but was nominated for the prestigious Nederlandse Toneel Publieksprijs (Dutch Audience Drama Award) and was selected for the Nederlands Theater Festival.
Also in 2010, Van Laecke directed with Alain Platel the international sensation Gardenia, which premiered at the Avignon Festival. This unforgettable collaboration with the internationally acclaimed Belgian company Les Ballets C dela B won international praise after it opened at the Avignon festival and toured internationally for the next two years. In 2012 it was nominated in Britain for the prestigious Lawrence Olivier Award.
Frank has directed many operas, including La Bohème, La Traviata, Nabucco, Aida, Carmen, I Pagliacci, Cavaleria Rusticana, Don Pasquale, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Faust, Tosca, Manon Lescaut and recently Madame Butterfly, which was hailed as best Dutch Opera production of 2012.
In 2013 Frank directed The Wizard of Oz in Belgium and Baantjer in The Netherlands. He also directed Peter Grimes in Germany, which received fantastic reviews.
Most recently Frank has again collaborated with Alain Platel to direct En avant, marche! which is touring Europe from June 2015 to July 2016.