London Revival of La Bête Confirmed for June; Broadway in September

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16 Feb 2010

David Hyde Pierce
David Hyde Pierce
Photo by Joan Marcus
A new production of David Hirson's 1991 play La Bête will begin performances at the West End's Comedy Theatre June 26, prior to an official opening July 7, for a season through Aug. 28. The production will open at a Shubert theatre to be announced in September.

As previously announced, the production will star Mark Rylance, David Hyde Pierce and Joanna Lumley, under the direction of Matthew Warchus. It will be produced in London and New York by Sonia Friedman Productions & Scott Landis, Roger Berlind, Robert Bartner and Roy Furman. The production will be designed by Mark Thompson, with lighting by Hugh Vanstone, music by Claire van Kampen and sound by Simon Baker. Further casting will be announced shortly.

The play, which originally premiered on Broadway in a short-lived run in 1991 and was subsequently seen in a different production at London's Lyric Hammersmith in 1992 where it won the Olivier Award for Best Comedy, is set in 17th-century France. It is described in press materials as a comic tour de force about Elomire (Pierce), a high-minded classical dramatist who loves only the theatre, and Valere (Rylance), a low-brow street clown who loves only himself. When the fickle princess (Lumley) decides she’s grown weary of Elomire’s royal theatre troupe, he and Valere are left fighting for survival as art squares off with ego in a literary showdown for the ages.

Hyde Pierce, best known for his long-running role as Dr. Niles Crane in the TV sitcom "Frasier," was last seen on the Broadway stage in Manhattan Theatre Club's production of Accent on Youth in 2009. Other Broadway credits include starring roles in the musicals Curtains (for which he won the 2007 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical) and Monty Python's Spamalot, as well as the plays The Heidi Chronicles and Beyond Therapy.

Lumley, who is best known for starring in the British TV series "Absolutely Fabulous," was last seen onstage in a regional U.K. production of The Cherry Orchard at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre. Other stage appearances include Somerset Maugham's The Letter at the Lyric Hammersmith and a production of Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit in the West End.



Rylance, who is currently starring in the West End in the transfer of Jez Butterworth's Jerusalem (for which he has won both the Critics' Circle and Evening Standard Theatre Awards for Best Actor), was previously artistic director of Shakespeare’s Globe from 1995 to 2005, where his roles included the title role in Richard II and Olivia in an all-male production of Twelfth Night (winning the Olivier for Best Actor). He has also won a BAFTA for "The Government Inspector" and an Olivier for playing Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing at the Queen’s Theatre. He has appeared in the films "The Other Boleyn Girl," "Intimacy," "Prospero’s Books" and "The Grass Arena" (Radio Times Award for Best newcomer).

Warchus is currently represented on Broadway by his production of Yasmina Reza's God of Carnage, for which he won the 2009 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play. He was also nominated in the same category in 2009 for the trilogy of productions that comprised The Norman Conquests, and was previously nominated in the same category for his productions of Reza's Art in 1998, Sam Shepard's True West in 2000 and Boeing-Boeing in 2008. Other Broadway directing credits include productions of Follies in 2001 and Reza's Life x3 in 2003. He has previously worked extensively for the RSC and the National Theatre, where his productions of Henry V, Hamlet and Volpone have each earned him Olivier Award nominations for Best Director. Hamlet subsequently played at Brooklyn Academy of Music in 1998. He has also directed the musicals Tell Me on a Sunday and Our House in the West End, and a stage version of The Lord of the Rings in Toronto and the West End's Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. He has also directed for opera companies including English National Opera, Opera North and Welsh National Opera.

Hirson, born in New York City and educated at Yale and Oxford, has written two plays for the theatre. In addition to La Bête, Wrong Mountain was also produced on Broadway. A collected edition of his plays is published by Grove Press. He is currently working on a new version of Die Fledermaus for the Metropolitan Opera.

To book tickets for the London production, contact the box office at 0844 871 7622 or visit www.labetetheplay.com for more details.