Directed by Academy Award winner Sam Mendes, the productions will feature the previously announced Simon Russell Beale as Lopakhin in The Cherry Orchard and Leontes in The Winter's Tale, Sinead Cusack as Madame Ranevskaya and Paulina and Rebecca Hall as Varya and Hermione. Newcomers to the cast include Richard Easton as Firs and Old Shepherd/Time, Josh Hamilton as Yasha and Polixenes, and Ethan Hawke as Trofimov and Autolycus. Additional casting will be announced at a later time.
Rehearsals for the inaugural season of the Bridge Project will begin in Brooklyn in October. The plays will be seen at the Brooklyn Academy of Music January-March 2009 before heading to the DBS Arts Centre in Singapore (March 26-29, 2009), the EDGE in Auckland (April 2-12), Teatro Español in Madrid (April 23-May 2), Ruhrfestspiele Recklinghausen in Germany (May 7-16) and London's Old Vic (May-August).
The Bridge Project, according to press notes, "places the exchange of ideas, talent and creativity between London and New York at the heart of the process, and is borne out of Sam Mendes, Joseph V. Melillo and Kevin Spacey's shared desire to produce large-scale, classical theater for international audiences."
In a statement director Mendes said, "I'm delighted to be working on The Cherry Orchard and The Winter's Tale simultaneously. Two plays about reminiscence, loss and regret. Two plays about time and how it can heal or destroy us. Two plays that begin and end in the nursery. Two plays that continue to confound and amaze in their bottomless complexity and mystery. And two plays that were written at the end of the careers of the two greatest dramatists who ever lived. 'o call back yesterday. bid time return' I'm particularly looking forward to reuniting with my friend and collaborator, Simon Russell Beale for what will be our seventh Shakespeare production together and thrilled that he will be leading a transatlantic company of exceptional talent. I'm also delighted to be working with two of the greatest theaters in the world and continuing my relationship with their artistic directors, Joe Melillo and Kevin Spacey."
Spacey, artistic director of the Old Vic, added, "I couldn't be happier to be announcing such wonderful casting for the first year of this ambitious and thrilling venture with Sam and BAM. The Old Vic stage calls for great acting and great writing. With Tom Stoppard's new version of Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard and Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale played in rep by this magnificent cast, Old Vic audiences have a great deal to be excited about for 2009." The creative team will also feature Anthony Ward (set designer), Catherine Zuber (costume designer), Paul Pyant (lighting designer), Paul Arditti (sound designer) and Mark Bennett (music).