Michael Grandage to Launch New West End Company with Five Plays: Casts Include Daniel Radcliffe, Jude Law, Judi Dench
By Mark Shenton
Director Michael Grandage, former artistic director of the Donmar Warehouse and currently represented on Broadway by his production of Evita, is to debut his new West End company with a season of five plays that will run at the Noel Coward Theatre, for a 15-month season from December 2012 to February 2014. Casting will include Daniel Radcliffe, Judi Dench, Jude Law, Simon Russell Beale, Sheridan Smith, David Walliams and Ben Whishaw.
The slate of productions embrace new and old work, including a world premiere and two Shakespeare productions, all of them under the direction of Michael Grandage. Over 200 tickets will be available for every performance at just £10, with over 100,000 tickets at this price across the entire season.
The company, set up with producer James Bierman (who previously worked alongside Grandage at the Donmar as its executive director) as a purely commercial enterprise with no subsidized funding, also plans to establish a full education program including schools' performances.
In a press statement, Grandage and Bierman commented, "We are delighted to announce the inaugural season of work for the Michael Grandage Company – a programme comprised of new writing alongside the classical and twentieth century repertoire." With their price and schools program, they added, "We aim to appeal to new theatregoers and help build audiences for the future. This unique West End season brings together writers, actors and other artists in a single venture over fifteen months dedicated to presenting work of the highest quality at affordable prices."
The season commences with a new production of Peter Nichols' Privates on Parade, with music by Denis King, that Grandage previously staged at the Donmar during Sam Mendes' tenure as artistic director there. The cast will include Simon Russell Beale as the cross-dressing Captain Terri Dennis. It will begin performances Dec. 1, prior to an official opening Dec. 10, for a run through March 2. In the play, Private Steven Flowers is posted to the Song and Dance Unit in South East Asia where serving under the flamboyant Captain Terri Dennis he discovers it takes more than just a uniform to become a man. Russell Beale is currently appearing at the National in Collaborators and is soon to star in the title role of Timon of Athens.
It will be followed by the world premiere of John Logan's Peter and Alice, whose award-winning play Red Grandage previously premiered at the Donmar Warehouse and which subsequently transferred to Broadway. The cast will include Judi Dench and Ben Whishaw. It will begin performances March 9, prior to an official opening March 25, for a run through June 1. When Alice Liddell Hargreaves met Peter Llewelyn Davies at the opening of a Lewis Carroll exhibition in 1932, the original Alice in Wonderland came face to face with the original Peter Pan. In John Logan's new play, this brief encounter lays bare the lives of these two extraordinary characters. Dench, who plays Alice Liddell Hargreaves, previously worked with Grandage on Madame de Sade as part of the Donmar's West End season at Wyndham's Theatre. She has also worked extensively in the theatre for the National and RSC. Whishaw, who plays Peter Llewelyn Davies, has starred Off-Broadway in The Pride (Lucille Lortel Theatre), and in London in the original Royal Court production of Mike Bartlett's Cock that is currently running in New York.
Martin McDonagh's The Cripple of Inishmann is to receive it first major London revival since its 1996 premiere at the National Theatre. Daniel Radcliffe will return to the London stage, where he has previously starred in Equus, to play the title role of Cripple Billy. It begins performances June 8, prior to an official opening June 18, for a run through Aug. 31. In the play, set on the remote island of Inishmaan off the west coast of Ireland, word arrives that a Hollywood film is being made on the neighbouring island of Inishmore. The one person who wants to be in the film more than anybody is young Cripple Billy, if only to break away from the bitter tedium of his daily life. Radcliffe, who is best known for playing the title role in all eight films in the "Harry Potter" series, last appeared onstage headlining the Broadway revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.
A Midsummer Night's Dream, which begins performances Sept. 7 prior to an oficial opening Sept. 17, for a run through Nov. 16, will feature Sheridan Smith as Titania and David Walliams as Bottom. Smith, who has recently also been announced to star in the Old Vic's forthcoming production of Hedda Gabler, has won the Laurence Olivier Award for both Best Supporting Actress in a Play for Flare Path (Theatre Royal, Haymarket) and Best Actress in a Musical for Legally Blonde - the Musical (Savoy Theatre). Walliams, who is best known for his TV credits that include "Little Britain," "Come Fly With Me" and a judge on "Britain's Got Talent," has previously appeared in the West End in Pinter's No Man's Land at the Duke of York's Theatre.
Jude Law will play the title role in Shakespeare's Henry V, which begins performances Nov. 23 prior to an official opening Dec. 3, for a run through Feb. 15. Grandage and Law previously worked together on Hamlet in the Donmar Warehouse production at Wyndham's that subsequently transferred to Broadway, and more recently in the Donmar production of Anna Christie directed by Rob Ashford.
Public booking for the season will open from June 15. To book tickets, contact the box office on 0844 482 5141, or visit www.michaelgrandagecompany.com for more details.
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