Further star casting has been confirmed for The Exonerated, the hit Off-Broadway drama about living on death row now receiving its London premiere in a 16-week run (to 11 June 2006) at Hammersmith’s Riverside Studios (See News, 3 Feb 2006).

Newly announced guests stars include: multiple Olivier Award winner Henry Goodman (most recently seen on stage in The Hypochondriac and The Birthday Party) from 18 to 23 April, Mackenzie Crook (pictured - The Office, Pirates of the Caribbean on screen, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest on stage) from 9 to 14 May, and American Peri Gilpin (Roz from TV’s Fraier from 30 May to 3 June. Meanwhile, Sex and the City’s Kristin Davis has confirmed her appearance in the production, from 2 to 14 May (See News, 3 Feb 2006).

Others already confirmed to appear in the coming weeks include (See News, 23 Mar 2006): Martin Freeman, Michael McShane, Danny Glover, Kate Mulgrew and, for a one-night only charity event in aid of Reprieve, Vanessa Redgrave (4 May). The London season at Riverside Studios opened on 24 February 2006 (previews from 21 February) with American screen stars Aidan Quinn, Stockard Channing and Delroy Lindo in the cast.

The Exonerated was written in 2001 by husband-and-wife team Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen, based on interviews with 40 former death row prisoners. It explores the experiences of those wrongfully imprisoned for between two and 22 years. The play was first performed in April 2002 by the Los Angeles-based Actors’ Gang, under the artistic directorship of Hollywood’s Tim Robbins, before transferring to New York. In January 2005, the stage drama was adapted for television and aired on the US’ Court TV channel, starring Quinn, Brian Dennehy, Danny Glover, Delroy Lindo, Susan Sarandon and David Brown Jr.

Meanwhile, at south London’s Menier Chocolate Factory, comedian Norman Pace (Hale and Pace) leads the cast of Breakfast with Jonny Wilkinson, which opens on 27 April 2006 (previews from 19 April) for a limited season to 2 July (See News, 24 Mar 2006).

The new comedy is written by Chris England, who, with Arthur Smith, co-wrote the similarly sport-focussed An Evening with Gary Lineker, which was a hit at the West End’s Duchess Theatre in 1991. The new piece follows the elation over England’s victory at the 2003 rugby World Cup, in which flyhalf - and pin-up – Wilkinson played a pivotal role with a drop goal just 26 seconds from the end of extra-time in the championship match.

England also appears in the production, which also features by Tony Bell (A Man for All Seasons, Propeller’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Winter’s Tale and Rose Rage), Beth Cordingly, Abi Tucker, Michael Beckley and Kevin Wathen. Jonathan Lewis directs.

And in other casting updates:

  • At the National (See News, 15 Feb 2006), Matthew Marsh stars in The Overwhelming, JT Rogers’ new play about the Rwandan genocide, which also features Tanya Moodie and Danny Sapani as well as Andrew Garfield, William Armstrong, Nick Fletcher, Jude Akuwudike, Chipo Chung, Babou Ceesay, Adura Onashile and Lucian Msamati. Co-produced with Out of Joint, the premiere production is directed by Out of Joint artistic director Max Stafford-Clark and opens in the NT Cottesloe rep on 17 May 2006 (previews from 9 May).

  • In the NT Olivier, the second production of the £10 Travelex Season, Market Boy, will feature Claire Rushbrook (Festen), Jonathan Cullen, Callum Dixon, Paul Moriarty and Freddy Boy with Danny Worters as the title character. The production reunites playwright David Eldridge and director Rufus Norris - who garnered multiple awards for their stage version of Festen, including last year’s Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers’ Choice Award for Best New Play. In 1985 in Romford Market, a young boy learns the lessons of Thatcherite economics. Market Boy opens on 6 June 2006 (previews from 26 May).

  • In the NT Lyttelton, Juliet Stevenson and Ben Whishaw will be joined in the cast of The Seagull by Hattie Morahan, Angus Wright, Mark Bazeley, Sandy McDade and Justin Salinger as well as Michael Gould, Sean Jackson, Liz Kettle. Martin Crimp’s new version of Chekhov’s classic is directed by Katie Mitchell. It starts previews on 6 June 2006 (press night tbc).

  • And finally, outside of London at Chichester Festival Theatre (See News, 20 Feb 2006), Penelope Keith is joined in the premiere of Richard Everett’s Entertaining Angels by Benjamin Witrow, Polly Adams, Caroline Harker, Michael Lumsden and Abigail Thaw. Keith plays a vicar’s widow who, after many years of being on her best behaviour - and personally baking two tons of light crust pastry – finally has the freedom to do and say exactly what she pleases. The season runs from 5 to 27 May 2006.

    - by Caroline Ansdell & Terri Paddock