As the fifth season of the Donmar Warehouse's Divas at the Donmar series approaches (Aug. 5-31), more details about the acclaimed cabaret program have been announced.
Gareth Valentine will serve as the musical director for Janie Dee, who opens the series on Aug. 5 and plays through Aug. 10. 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, the one male performer who will take to the stage of the intimate theatre from Aug. 19 to Aug. 24. 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, the final diva of the season — Aug. 26-31 — 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 acclaimed series at the famed Donmar Warehouse, which presents a selection of "divas" in concert each summer, runs Aug. 5-31. Janie Dee, who made her New York stage debut in Alan Ayckbourn's Comic Potential, will open the series on Aug. 5. A two-time winner of London's prestigious Olivier Award — for her work in Comic Potential and Carousel — Dee has also starred on the London stage in My One and Only, 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, Enter the Guardsman and They're Playing Our Song.
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 "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