Brown Parades into Donmar Premiere, New BetrayalDate: 23 February 2007
Parade, the two-time Tony Award-winning 1998 musical by American composer and lyricist Jason Robert Brown, will at last receive its London premiere with a major new production this autumn at the Donmar Warehouse.
Brown has long been a cult favourite with musical aficionados in the UK, but to date has only had small-scale London stagings of two of his musicals: 1995’s Songs for a New World (which won a Whatsonstage.com Award after its 2001 UK premiere at the Bridewell) and 2001 two-hander song cycle The Last Five Years (seen last summer at the Menier Chocolate Factory), in addition to occasional concert performances.
Based on a true story, Parade is set in 1913 Atlanta, where a Jewish man from Brooklyn stands accused of the murder of a young factory worker. It has a book by Alfredy Urhy, music and lyrics by Brown and was co-conceived by Harold Prince, who directed its premiere at New York’s Lincoln Center in 1998. The Donmar production, running from 14 September to 24 November 2007 (previews from 14 September), will also mark the directorial debut for American choreographer Rob Ashford (Guys and Dolls and Evita for which he won this year’s Whatsonstage.com Award for Best Choreographer). It’s designed by Christopher Oram.
The new Donmar season kicks off, as previously reported (See News, 8 Jan 2007), with a revival of Kiss of the Spider Woman - Argentine Manuel Puig’s play about inmates in a Latin American jail, adapted from his own 1976 novel of the same name – which runs from 25 April to 26 May 2007 (previews from 19 April). Rupert Evans (Romeo and Juliet, Breathing Corpses, Sweet Panic) will play young Marxist rebel Valentin in Charlotte Westenra’s production, designed by Ben Stones. After its dates at the Donmar, Kiss of the Spider Woman will tour to Liverpool, Bristol and Salford, where it concludes on 16 June 2007.
Back in London, it’s followed, from 5 June to 21 July 2007 (previews from 31 May) by a new production of Nobel Prize-winning playwright Harold Pinter’s drama about love and deceit Betrayal, which is famously played in reverse, tracing a seven-year affair from its poignant end to its first illicit kiss. The three-hander was last seen in the West End in a 2003 production directed by Peter Hall, who also helmed the 1978 premiere at the National, where Penelope Wilton, Michael Gambon and Daniel Massey starred. The Donmar revival of Betrayal will be directed by Roger Michell, who directed Pinter’s Old Times at the same address three years ago, and designed by William Dudley.
The Donmar’s newly appointed associate, actor-turned-director Douglas Hodge – who made his West End directing debut last year with See How They Run - will direct Absurdia, a celebration of British absurdist playwrights in which NF Simpson’s A Resounding Tinkle and Gladly Otherwise will be paired with the world premiere of The Crimson Hotel, written by Michael Frayn (Noises Off, Donkeys’ Years, Copenhagen, Democracy). Designed by Vicki Mortimer, it runs from 31 July to 8 September 2007 (previews from 26 July).
Following Parade’s autumn season, artistic director Michael Grandage – whose production of Ibsen's John Gabriel Borkman has just opened and continues until 14 April - will return to direct the theatre’s not-yet-announced Christmas production. In the meantime, Grandage will be busy with the Broadway production of Peter Morgan’s Frost/Nixon, the first transatlantic transfer for the Donmar Warehouse under his reign. Michael Sheen and Frank Langella, who starred at the Donmar and in the just-finished West End season, will recreate their title performances in New York, where the play opens for a 20-week limited run at the Bernard B Jacobs Theatre on 22 April 2007 (previews from 31 March).
- by Terri Paddock