Ashford-Directed Streetcar With Rachel Weisz Opens at Donmar

News   Ashford-Directed Streetcar With Rachel Weisz Opens at Donmar Rachel Weisz opens as Blanche DuBois in the new Donmar Warehouse production of Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire on July 28 after previews from July 23. The London production is currently scheduled to run through Oct. 3.
A Streetcar Named Desire star Rachel Weisz
A Streetcar Named Desire star Rachel Weisz Photo by Johan Persson

Rob Ashford, who returns to the Donmar where he previously made his directorial debut in 2007 with the now L.A.-bound production of Parade, directs a cast that also features Elliot Cowan (as Stanley) and Ruth Wilson (as Stella). The cast also includes Jack Ashton, Charles Daish, Judy Hepburn, Barnaby Kay, Gary Milner, Daniela Nardini and Luke Rutherford.

The production is designed by Christopher Oram with lighting by Neil Austin and music and sound design by Adam Cork.

Williams' Pultizer-Prize winning play premiered at Broadway's Barrymore Theatre in 1947, and won Vivien Leigh a Best Actress Oscar for the film adaptation in 1951. It was last seen on the London stage when Trevor Nunn directed Glenn Close as Blanche DuBois at the National's Lyttelton Theatre in 2002.

The play revolves around fading southern belle Blanche DuBois (Weisz), who unexpectedly appears at the home of her sister Stella (Wilson) in the stifling world of downtown New Orleans. With delusions of grandeur, Blanche stands in stark contrast to her new surroundings and her brother-in-law Stanley (Cowan). His determination to reveal her secrets lead her to withdraw ever further away from reality, into a world of illusions.

Weisz, who plays Blanche, first appeared at the Donmar in 1994 in Design for Living, which subsequently transferred to the Gielgud Theatre, and won her that year's Critics' Circle Award for Most Promising Newcomer. She also appeared in the Donmar's 1999 revival of Tennessee Williams' Suddenly Last Summer, produced in the West End at the Comedy Theatre. She was last seen on the London stage in the original Almeida Theatre-produced staging of Neil LaBute's The Shape of Things in 2001, subsequently playing it at Off-Broadway's Promenade Theatre the same year, and later re-creating it for the film version in 2003. She is best known for her film appearances in "The Mummy," "The Mummy Returns," "About a Boy" and "The Constant Gardener" (Oscar winner for Best Supporting Actress, plus Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Awards). She will be seen this year in "The Brothers Bloom," "The Lovely Bones" and "Agora." Cowan, who plays Stanley, previously appeared at the Donmar in Michael Grandage's original production of Frost/Nixon, which subsequently transferred to the Gielgud. Other theatre credits include The Revenger's Tragedy (National Theatre) and Don Carlos (Sheffield Theatres and Gielgud Theatre, London). On film he has appeared in "The Golden Compass," "Happy Go Lucky" and "Alexander."

Wilson, who plays Stella, has appeared at the National in Philistines and in Good at the Sound Theatre. Her TV credits include "The Prisoner," "Freezing," "Mad," "A Real Summer," "Capturing Mary," "Jane Eyre" and "Suburban Shootout"; and for film, "Get Off My Land."

Jack Ashton plays the Young Man. His theatre work includes Twelfth Night and The Homecoming (Theatre Royal York), Our Boys (Pleasance Theatre) and A Thrashing (Southwark Playhouse).

Charles Daish plays the Doctor. His theatre credits include The Light in the Piazza (Curve Theatre, Leicester), Rain Man (Apollo Theatre), Chains of Dew (Orange Tree), Julius Caesar (Lyric Hammersmith) and Journey's End (West End).

Judy Hepburn, whose previous Donmar appearances include Mary Stuart (Donmar at the Apollo) and Passion Play (Donmar at the Comedy), plays Matron. She has also appeared in the tours of The Hollow Crown and Naked Justice.

Barnaby Kay plays Mitch. His theatre work includes War and Peace (Shared Experience), Blues for Mister Charlie (Tricycle Theatre) and Twelfth Night, As You Like It and Eric La Rue (RSC).

Gary Milner, who previously appeared in Rob Ashford's production of Parade at the Donmar, returns there to play Steve Hubbel. He was last seen in the West End in Imagine This (New London Theatre). Other credits include The Music Man, 5/11, Lee Miller and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (all Chichester Festival Theatre), Evita and Chicago (Adelphi Theatre), Brighton Rock (Almeida Theatre) and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (London Palladium).

Daniela Nardini plays Eunice Hubbel. Her theatre work includes Etta Jenks (Finborough Theatre), Top Girls (Glasgow Citizens' Theatre), Cue Deadly (Riverside Studios) and Camille (Lyric Hammersmith). She is best known for her BAFTA Award-winning role in the TV series "This Life."

Luke Rutherford plays Pablo. His theatre work includes Ex Humare (King's Head Theatre) and Coriolanus (RSC).

Director Ashford has also worked in the U.K. previously as choreographer for Michael Grandage's Donmar production of Guys and Dolls at the Piccadilly and for Grandage's West End production of Evita; as well as on Candide (for ENO, also seen at Italy's La Scala and France's La Chatelet), and the West End transfer of Thoroughly Modern Millie that he originally choreographed on Broadway. Other Broadway credits include Cry-Baby and Curtains, and for film, "Love Walked In" and "Beyond the Sea."

To complement the run of Streetcar, there will be two rehearsed readings of Williams' work – his final play, A House Not Meant to Stand (1982) on Sept. 14, and Fugitive Kind (1937) on Sept. 15.

To book tickets, contact the box office at 0870 060 6624 or visit www.donmarwarehouse.com.

Rachel Weisz in <i>A Streetcar Named Desire</i>
Rachel Weisz in A Streetcar Named Desire Photo by Johan Persson