Director Mendes Departs Donmar & Kidman ReturnsDate: 23 November 2001
Sam Mendes is set to leave the Donmar Warehouse at the end of next year after a decade long stint at its helm, and will form an independent film and theatre production company with his Donmar Executive Producer, Caro Newling.
Mendes is currently in the headlines, too, for the revelation that he is now dating British movie star Kate Winslet. For his parting shot from the theatre, he has signed Nicole Kidman to return to the theatre, where three years ago she starred in his production of The Blue Room, and from where it subsequently transferred to Broadway. This time, the plan is for Mendes to direct a double-bill of Twelfth Night and Uncle Vanya, performed in repertoire, with Kidman as Vioa and Yelena respectively. Mendes has also lured Simon Russell Beale, who starred as Iago in his National Theatre staging of Othello, to star as Malovolio in Twelfth Night and the title role in Uncle Vanya. The plays will run in repertoire from 5 September to November 30.
Prior to this, an American Imports season will see another hotshot American movie star, Philip Seymour Hoffman - seen in Happiness, Magnolia and The Talented Mr Ripley -- make his London directorial debut in March, recreating his acclaimed Off-Broadway staging of Stephen Adly Guirgis's Jesus Hopped the 'A' Train. The prison drama was also seen at this year's Edinburgh Fringe. It will play alongside the world premiere of Keith Reddin's Frame 312, a play about the assassination of John F Kennedy. (Mendes's opening production at the Donmar in 1992, of course, was Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman's musical Assassins, about presidential assassinations that included the Kennedy one.) The plays will run in repertoire from 6-30 March.
Also lined up are two London premieres of plays previously seen in New York: from off-Broadway, Kenneth Lonergan's Lobby Hero arrives for a run from 4 April to 4 May; and from Broadway, where it is still running at the Walter Kerr Theatre, comes last year's Tony winner for Best Play, David Auburn's Proof, will run from 9 May to 15 June. Then another American writer, Richard Greenberg, will offer the world premiere of Take Me Out, about an baseball hero who comes out as gay, running from 20 June to 3 August. Greenberg's Three Days of Rain was a hit at the Donmar; the new play will be co-produced with New York's Public Theatre and will, subject to discussions with American and British Equity, feature an American cast to open the play here prior to transferring it to New York.
August will see the 5th anniversary season of the annual Divas at the Donmar cabaret series, with Philip Quast already announced to star. Quast is currently about to star in the National Theatre's staging of South Pacific and was previously seen at the Donmar Warehouse in The Fix.
Michael Grandage, whose Donmar production of Privates on Parade previews from 30 November prior to opening on December 10, is being heavily tipped to replace Mendes, though the job will be publicly advertised.
- Mark Shenton