Olivier Award winner Janie Dee opens the fifth season of London's Divas at the Donmar series Aug. 5.
Dee, who recently starred in the London production of My One and Only at the Piccadilly Theatre, will play the Donmar through Aug. 10. An Olivier Award winner for her role as Carrie Pipperidge in the Royal National Theatre's production of Carousel, Dee received another Olivier for her work in Alan Ayckbourn's Comic Potential, a play she also appeared in at New York's Manhattan Theatre Club. Last seen at the Donmar in Enter the Guardsman, Dee's other London stage credits include Between the Lines, Dreams from a Summerhouse, The Women of Troy, Cabaret, Can Can, Show Boat, Sophisticated Ladies, Oklahoma!, The Sound of Music, South Pacific and They're Playing Our Song.
Musical direction for Dee's Divas stint will be provided by Gareth Valentine, who has served as musical director for such shows as Company, Nine and Merrily We Roll Along.
Ruby Turner, the Jamaican-born, Birmingham-bred songstress, follows Dee on Aug. 12 and performs through Aug. 17. Compared to such legendary singers as Aretha Franklin and Janis Joplin, Turner toured extensively with Culture Club and gained huge success in such shows as Carmen Jones and Blues Brothers Soul Sisters. Considered by many to be the voice of 1980's soul, the singer will bring her mix of soul, funk, jazz and R&B to the Donmar. Following Turner in the series is British stage actor Philip Quast, who played the Donmar in the Sam Mendes-directed The Fix. Quast, who will perform at the Donmar from Aug. 19-24, garnered his third Olivier Award this season for his performance in the Royal National Theatre's production of South Pacific. He has also been seen on the U.K. stage in Les Misérables, Sunday in the Park with George and The Secret Garden.
Tony Award winner Kristin Chenoweth finishes the season, with concerts from Aug. 26 through Aug. 31. Chenoweth made her Broadway debut opposite Bill Irwin in a production of Molière's Scapin and followed that with a lead role in Kander and Ebb's Steel Pier, which earned the actress a Theatre World Award. Roles in A New Brain and the City Center Encores! Strike Up the Band ensued, and in 1998 she portrayed Sally in You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, nabbing Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle awards for her performance. She starred in her own, short-lived TV series "Kristin," and her other TV appearances include roles in "Frasier" and ABC's television adaptation of the musical Annie. Chenoweth will also star in the upcoming TV movie version of Meredith Willson's The Music Man.
The Tony Award-winning composer of Parade and the man responsible for this season's The Last Five Years, Jason Robert Brown, will provide arrangements and musical direction for Philip Quast. Matthew Ryan will direct Quast's show, and musical supervision will be offered by David White. Composer Andrew Lippa will serve as Kristen Chenoweth's musical director; Chenoweth won her Tony singing Lippa's "My New Philosophy," a new tune added to the 1999 Broadway production of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown.
The "Divas at the Donmar" series has hosted a handful of celebrated performers since its debut at the trendy London theatre in 1999. Some of the talents who have taken part in the West End concerts include Patti LuPone, Audra McDonald, Barbara Cook and Betty Buckley. The Donmar Warehouse is located at 41 Earlham Street in London. The telephone number for the theatre's box office is 011 44 20 7369 1732; go to www.donmar warehouse.com for more information.
—By Andrew Gans