Michael Grandage has been appointed Artistic Director of the Donmar Warehouse.
Grandage, already an Associate Director of the Covent Garden theatre, was the theatre industry's hot tip for the post. Given his long connection with the Donmar —and the huge success of his current production there, Privates on Parade—his appointment is some sense mirrors that of Nicholas Hytner at the National.
Like Hytner on the South Bank, Grandage is a popular choice with those he will be leading over the next few years. This is just as well as Sam Mendes, who leaves later this year to develop his film career, is going to be a hard act to follow.
Prior to Privates on Parade Grandage had a hit at the Donmar with Passion Play, which transferred to the Comedy Theatre, and great critical acclaim for his productions of Sondheim's Merrily We Role Along and Good, a powerful drama about the rise of the Nazis.
Grandage is unusal in also having a working existence outside central London - he regularly directs at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield - one of the North's most exciting theatres - and he will be directing Kenneth Branagh in Richard III there in the Spring.
His ability in both straight drama and musical theatre is an ideal recommendation for the Donmar, which has an extraordinary reputation for both. His appointment has, naturally, been welcomed by the Donmar's representatives, but more important is the high regard in which he is held by the industry - only a director of his calibre would have been able to tempt Branagh back to the stage after a decade acting and directing in cinema.
There will now be a hand-over period until Grandage actually takes over the reins in December, but the process of creating his first season will be begin immediately. Whether his programming continues Mendes' format or makes a radical departure from it, he will not be short of actors wanting to perform at his theatre.
—by Paul Webb Theatrenow