Evans Leads Sunday, Harris Leaves Menier BoomDate: 29 June 2005
Daniel Evans (pictured), who won Olivier and Whatsonstage.com Awards for his performance in the 2000 Donmar Warehouse production of Merrily We Roll Along, will return to the work of Stephen Sondheim this winter to star in a revival of his Pultizer Prize-winning 1984 musical Sunday in the Park with George. As previously tipped (See The Goss, 17 Jul 2005), the production will have a limited season at London’s Menier Chocolate Factory from 17 November 2005 to 18 February 2006.
Exploring the creative process of French impressionist Georges Seurat, Sondheim’s 1984 musical begins in 19th-century France, where the impoverished painter battles with his art and his personal life. His engrossment in his work drives his pregnant girlfriend to leave him. The action then shifts to modern America where George’s great-grandson is facing similar problems.
On Broadway, Sunday in the Park with George starred Mandy Patinkin as George with Bernadette Peters as his girlfriend. The musical’s London premiere production, at the National Theatre in 1990, starred Maria Friedman and Philip Quast, who won an Olivier for Best Actor in a Musical.
In addition to Merrily We Roll Along, Evans’ musical credits include the title role in Candide at the National and, earlier this year, Grand Hotel back at the Donmar. Amongst his many non-musical stage credits are The Tempest (opposite Derek Jacobi at Sheffield and in the West End), Cleansed, 4.48 Psychosis, Other People, Where Do We Live (Royal Court), Peter Pan, The Merchant of Venice, Troilus and Cressida, Cardiff East (National), A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Cymbeline and Measure for Measure (RSC).
The actor’s film and television roles include Daniel Deronda, Tomorrow La Scala, Being Dom Joly, Dead Air, Deep Sleep, Love in a Cold Climate, Great Expectations, To the Ends of the Earth and The Barber of Siberia. He’s currently filming Elizabeth The Virgin with Anne-Marie Duff.
Although Evans has sung Sondheim in concert on occasion, most recently at the Cardiff Millennium Stadium in his native Wales, Merrily We Roll Along is the only Sondheim musical he’s previously appeared in. Speaking to Whatsonstage.com, Evans said that his two favourite Sondheims are Assassins and Sunday in the Park with George. Though he acknowledged the latter presents directorial challenges, “I’ve always loved listening to it,” he said, adding “you can imagine how much it means to me to be able to play it.”
The Menier production will be directed by Sam Buntrock who, in 1997, directed Assassins at the New End Theatre in Hampstead, north London. No further casting has yet been confirmed. Sunday in the Park with George has music by and lyrics by Sondheim and a book by James Lapine.
Currently at the Menier, the European premiere production of Tick Tick Boom, the posthumously produced autobiographical musical by Pulitzer Prize-winning Rent creator Jonathan Larson, is currently booking until 3 September 2005 but may extend. Its star, Neil Patrick Harris (of TV’s Doogie Howser MD fame), must leave the production in July to return to the US for filming on a new TV series, How I Met Your Mother co-starring Alyson Hannigan.
Harris’ final performance will be on 10 July 2005, after which he’ll be replaced by fellow American Christian Campbell, who has previously performed the role in New York. In between the two musicals, the Menier will premiere a new British play. Written by Ryan Craig, What We Did to Weinstein concerns personal consequences of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
- by Terri Paddock