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Annis & Sheen Sign Up to Grandage Donmar Debuts

By • West End
Francesca Annis and Michael Sheen are amongst the names now confirmed to star in Michael Grandage's debut productions as artistic director of the Donmar Warehouse, a role he takes over from Sam Mendes in December 2002 (See News and Goss, 22 Aug 02). Annis will lead the season opener, a revival of Noel Coward's rarely performed The Vortex while, in spring 2003, Sheen will take the title role in Albert Camus' Caligula, both productions directed by Grandage himself.

Annis was last seen in the West End in the 2001 production of Ibsen's Ghosts. Her previous stage credits include playing opposite her now-partner Ralph Fiennes in Hamlet at the Hackney Empire and later on Broadway. She is also well known for her television appearances in Wives and Daughters and Reckless, for which she was nominated for a BAFTA for three years running.

In The Vortex, which runs from 5 December 2002 to 15 February 2003, Annis is joined by Evening Standard Best Newcomer 2000 winner Chiwetel Ejiofor (Blue/Orange) and Indira Varma (One for the Road, Remembrance of Things Past, The Country, Three Sisters and, about to open at the National, Ivanov).

Michael Sheen (pictured) was last seen on the London stage in the 1999 National Theatre revival of John Osborne's Look Back in Anger. Since then, he has concentrated on his burgeoning Hollywood career, with major releases of Shekar Kapur's The Four Feathers and Richard Donner's Timeline imminent. His previous stage credits include The Homecoming, The Ends of the Earth, Henry V, Peer Gynt and, in the West End and on Broadway, playing Mozart in Peter Hall's production of Amadeus.

In Caligula, newly translated from the French by David Greig and running at the Donmar from 24 April to 14 June 2003, Sheen plays the eponymous Roman emperor, an insane and incestuous tyrant who, following the death of his sister/lover dies, passes absurd laws and unleashes a killing spree.

Further casting for Grandage's inaugural Donmar season, which also comprises Dario Fo's Accidental Death of an Anarchist and Stephen Sondheim's Pacific Overtures has not yet been announced.

- by Terri Paddock


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