Author and director Frank Van Laecke has established a versatile international career over the past decades. His widely acclaimed theatre work has earned him numerous national and international awards, including a nomination for the British Lawrence Olivier Award.
Van Laecke started out as a writer for successful Flemish television shows and continued - under the impulse of Linda Lepomme - as a director at the Royal Ballet of Flanders’ Musical Department. Since that moment he has directed numerous plays, operas, musicals and television shows.
From 1997 to 1999, Van Laecke was the Artistic Director of the Brussels-based production company Music Hall. In 1998, he directed Peter Schaffer's Equus for the Royal Dutch Theatre in Antwerp. In 2003, the musical The Prince of Africa was launched, with music by Dirk Brossé and narration by English actor David Suchet, best known for his television portrayal of Agatha Christie's detective Hercule Poirot. In the fall of that same year, Van Laecke’s symphonic Christmas story Santa premiered and it was produced at the Beacon Theatre in New York the following year. Together with Paul Berkenman and Dirk Brossé, he wrote the musical Sacco & Vanzetti.
Van Laecke directed the musicals Hollywood by Night, Je Anne, Jesus Christ Superstar, Jubilee 15, She Loves Me (four nominations for the Flemish Musical Awards), the European premiere of Jekyll & Hyde, Annie, Oliver! (nomination for Best Director), Yours Anne, Rembrandt (four nominations, two awards), The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, Camelot, The King and I, Anatevka (nomination for Best Director), Tell Me on a Sunday and Domino (Audience Award 2012).
On September 15, 2001, Tintin and the Temple of the Sun premiered in Antwerp, a spectacular adventurous musical written by Van Laecke in collaboration with composer Dirk Brossé and lyricist Seth Gaaikema. Van Laecke directed it for the Antwerp production company Tabas & Co in collaboration with Moulinsart. The French version of the show, adapted by Didier Van Cauwelaert, was called the best French spoken theatrical event of 2002 by French theatre magazine Télémoustique. The musical received eight nominations at the Flemish Musical Awards 2007 and Van Laecke won the award for Best Director.
Van Laecke also directed Dracula the Musical for Music Hall, which was nominated for 10 Flemish Musical Awards, four of which it won, including best direction.
In October 2008, the musical Daens (Studio 100) premiered in Antwerp, a musical collaboration with Allard Blom and Dirk Brossé. The story is based on the Oscar-nominated Belgian film about Adolf Daens, a priest who advocated workers' rights in the nineteenth century textile industry. Both the press and the public loved Daens: it received an impressive 13 nominations at the Flemish Musical Awards, winning eight including yet another award for Best Director.
The musical Ben X, based on a book by Nic Balthazar (an MVV production) took "musical" to a whole different level. This quirky production about a boy suffering from autism received rave reviews.
In 2006, Van Laecke directed Vanessa Van Durme’s autobiographical monologue Kijk mama, ik dans in a co-production between Van Durme’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 is currently still touring in Australia, France, Canada and the United Kingdom, to great critical and public acclaim.
In the fall of 2010, Van Laecke directed Aida for NTGent, immediately followed by Terence McNally's Master Class with Pia Douwes as Maria Callas. This production not only earned unanimous acclaim from reviewers, but was nominated for the prestigious Dutch Audience Award for Drama and was selected for the Dutch Theatre Festival. Also in 2010, Van Laecke directed the international sensation Gardenia with Alain Platel, which premiered at the Avignon Festival. This unforgettable collaboration with the internationally commended Belgian company Les Ballets C de la B received international praise after its opening at the Avignon festival. It continued to tour internationally for the next two years. In 2012, it was nominated in Britain for the prestigious Lawrence Olivier Award.
Van Laecke has directed numerous operas, including La Bohème, La Traviata, Nabucco, Aida, Carmen, I Pagliacci, Cavaleria Rusticana, Don Pasquale, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Faust, Tosca and Manon Lescaut and recently Madame Butterfly, which was proclaimed as the best Dutch Opera production of 2012. In 2013, he directed Peter Grimes in Germany. The production received fantastic reviews.
Earlier in 2013, Van Laecke directed The Wizard of Oz in Belgium and Baantjer, Moord in het Theater in The Netherlands.
2014 was a year of extremes for Van Laecke. After having directed the intimate Pauline and Paulette (Judas Productions) he went on with the musical spectacle 14-18 (Studio 100). 14-18 attracted 335,000 visitors and received many awards, such as the Golden Label for musical theatre.
In 2014-2015, Van Laecke directed Kadanza (Studio 100 – Ketnet), Aspe, Moord in het Theater (Uitgezonderd Theater), En Avant Marche (a new collaboration with Alain Platel and Steven Prengels), De Sokkensonate (Cour & Jardin), Carmen (Zomeropera Alden Biesen) and Sacco & Vanzetti (Festivaria).