London's Donmar Warehouse Season to Feature Weisz, West, Molina

By Mark Shenton
April 17, 2009

The previously announced production of A Streetcar Named Desire, starring Rachel Weisz as Blanche DuBois under the direction of Rob Ashford, will launch the Donmar Warehouse's new season, beginning performances July 23.

This production will be accompanied by two rehearsed readings of other Willliams work. The season will also include a revival of Spanish playwright Pedro Calderon de la Barca's Life is a Dream, with Dominic West making his Donmar debut in Jonathan Munby's production, and Donmar artistic director Michael Grandage directing Alfred Molina as artist Mark Rothko in the world premiere of John Logan's Red.

The announcement concides with the Broadway opening of the Donmar's production of Mary Stuart (at the Broadhurst Theatre on April 19), while Frost/Nixon continues to tour the U.S. with Alan Cox and Stacy Keach in the title roles respectively (to May 10), the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles premieres Rob Ashford's Donmar-originated production of Jason Robert Brown's Parade (from Sept. 24), and the Donmar production of Piaf, starring Elena Roger, goes to Roger's native Argentina to premiere at the Liceo Theatre, Buenos Aires, from July 11. In addition, Grandage's Donmar production of Guys and Dolls is currently playing at Sydney's Capitol Theatre, and his final production in the Donmar's residency at Wyndham's of Hamlet, starring Jude Law in the title role, has been invited to appear at Kronborg Castle in Elsinore, Denmark, Aug. 25-30, following its London run.

In a press statement, Grandage commented, "The announcement of this new season is part of the ongoing development of the Donmar's brand at home and abroad. It demonstrates our continued commitment to the European repertoire, the American repertoire, to musicals and to new writing… It's exciting for us to collaborate with so many writers, actors, directors and designers and to reach out to new audiences on four continents with such an eclectic mix of work. This is everything I want the Donmar to stand for."

A Streetcar Named Desire, which begins performances July 23 prior to an official opening July 28 for a run to Oct. 3, marks the return of director Rob Ashford to the Donmar, where he previously made his directorial debut with the now L.A.-bound production of Parade in 2007. The cast will be led by Rachel Weisz as Blanche DuBois, returning to the Donmar where she previously appeared in Noel Coward's Design for Living in 1994, and also include Jack Ashton, Elliot Cowan (as Stanley), Barnaby Kay and Ruth Wilson (as Stella), with Jack Ashton (as the Young Collector) and Barnaby Kay (as Mitch). The production will be designed by Christopher Oram, with lighting by Neil Austin, and music and sound design by Adam Cork.

Williams' Pultizer Prize-winning play premiered at Broadways' Barrymore Theatre in 1947, and won Vivien Leigh a Best Actress Oscar for the film adaptation in 1951. It was last seen on the London stage when Trevor Nunn directed Glenn Close as Blanche DuBois at the National's Lyttelton Theatre in 2002. The play revolves around fading southern belle Blanche DuBois (Weisz), who unexpectedly appears at the home of her sister Stella (Wilson) in the stifling world of downtown New Orleans. With delusions of grandeur, Blanche stands in stark contrast to her new surroundings and her brother-in-law Stanley (Cowan). His determination to reveal her secrets lead her to withdraw ever further away from reality, into a world of illusions.

To complement the run of Streetcar, there will be two rehearsed readings of other Williams work: his final play, A House Not Meant to Stand (1982) on Sept. 14, and Fugitive Kind (1937), on Sept. 15.

Pedro Calderon de la Barca's best-known play, Life is a Dream, will be presented in a new version by Helen Edmundson, beginning performances Oct. 8, prior to an official opening Oct. 13, for a run to Nov. 28. Jonathan Munby will direct a cast that includes Dominic West. Design is by Angela Davies, with lighting by Neil Austin, and Dominic Haslam as composer and sound designer.

The play is described in press materials as a richly poetic, epic masterpiece that explores illusion, reality, fate and destiny set against the backdrop of a mythical kingdom. To protect the country from the horrors prophesied, Segismundo is condemned for all eternity. Banished to a secret world high in the mountains and cut off from the sun, he can only dream of a life reversed; of palaces, empires, freedom and revenge.

The world premiere of John Logan's Red will begin performances Dec. 3, prior to an official opening on Dec. 8, for a run to Feb. 6, 2010. Alfred Molina will play artist Mark Rothko, with Eddie Redmayne as his assistant, in Michael Grandage's production. Design is by Christopher Oram, with lighting by Neil Austin and Adam Cork as composer and sound designer.

The play is described in press materials as a moving and compelling account of one of the greatest artists of the 20th century, whose struggle to accept his growing riches and praise became his ultimate undoing. Under the watchful gaze of his young assistant and the threatening presence of a new generation of artists, Rothko takes on his greatest challenge yet: to create a definitive work for an extraordinary setting.

Priority booking for the new season opens on May 11, with public booking from June 8. To book tickets, contact the box office at 0870 060 6624 or visit www.donmarwarehouse.com.