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Cast: Stage Backbeat, Jason O’Mara Serenades

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Irishman Jason O'Mara, now a familiar American TV face as detective Sam Tyler in the US version of Life on Mars, will return to the London stage to star in Simon Curtis’ revival of Lanford Wilson’s 1970 play Serenading Louie, which runs at the Donmar Warehouse from 16 February to 27 March 2010 (previews from 11 February) ahead of a brief regional tour (See News, 30 Oct 2009).

In Wilson’s portrait of two suburban American couples, friends since college, Carl and Alex, are struggling to deal with the harsh realities of adulthood as they enter their thirties. Disillusioned by work and fighting to keep their marriages alive, they’re desperately trying to make sense of it all.

O’Mara plays Carl opposite American Jason Butler Harner, making his UK stage debut as Alex. O’Mara’s previous UK stage credits include Popcorn, The Jew of Malta and School for Scandal. On US television, he’s also been seen in Grey’s Anatomy, The Agency, In Justice, Men in Trees, Criminal Minds and Band of Brothers. Butler Harner’s New York stage credits include The Coast of Utopia, The Invention of Love, Hedda Gabbler, The Paris Letter and The Glass Menagerie.

The men are joined in the four-hander by Britons Charlotte Emmerson (On the Rocks, Therese Raquin, The Coast of Utopia, Baby Doll) and Geraldine Somerville (Power, Remember This, I Am Yours, A Doll’s House.

Serenading Louie is designed by Whatsonstage.com Award nominee Peter McKintosh, with lighting by Guy Hoare and sound and music by Adam Cork. Following the Donmar, it visits Salford, Leicester and Truro.

In other play casting news, the leads have been found for the world premiere of Backbeat, the award-winning 1994 British film about the early years of the Beatles. The new play, written and co-directed by the film’s creator Iain Softley, opens at Glasgow Citizens Theatre, where it will run from 12 February to 6 March 2010 (previews from 9 February), ahead of an anticipated transfer (See News, 20 Oct 2009).

Set during ‘the Hamburg Years’ in the early 1960s before the band became successful and world famous, Backbeat centres on the triangular relationship between Stuart Sutcliffe, the band’s original bassist and an accomplished painter, his best friend John Lennon, and Astrid Kirchherr, the beatnik German photographer who Sutcliffe fell in love with. Struggling with his various loyalties, Sutcliffe eventually chose Astrid and art over the Beatles and music.

Sutcliffe handed over his guitar to Paul McCartney just before Beatlemania took off. Shortly after leaving the band, he died in Hamburg, at the age of just 22, of a brain haemorrhage. His portrait featured on the Beatles’ album cover for Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

The film of Backbeat, also co-written and directed by Softley, starred Stephen Dorff as Sutcliffe, Sheryl Lee as Astrid Kirchherr and Ian Hart. On stage, Alex Robertson and Isabella Calthorpe will star as Sutcliffe and Kirchherr, with Andrew Knott as Lennon.

The company will also feature: Daniel Healy (as Paul McCartney), Jamie Blackley (George Harrison) and Oliver Bennett (Pete Best), as well as Kate Hodgson and Patrick Lannigan. The stage play is co-written by Stephen Jeffreys and produced by Karl Sydow.


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