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Casting Announced for Donmar Bee & Moonlight

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Outgoing artistic director Michael Grandage has announced casting for the first half of the Donmar Warehouse’s 2011 season, which includes the UK premiere of Tony Award-winning musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and a revival of Harold Pinter’s Moonlight.

In Spelling Bee, which runs from 21 February to 2 April 2011 (previews from 11 February), associate director Jamie Lloyd will helm a cast featuring Steve Pemberton, Katherine Kingsley, Chris Carswell, David Fynn, Hayley Gallivan, Harry Hepple, Maria Lawson, Ako Mitchell and Iris Roberts.

Katherine Kingsley returns to the Donmar to play Rona Lisa Perretti/Olive’s Mum. She previously appeared in Piaf both at the Donmar and Vaudeville Theatre, and in the concert performance of Company as part of the Sondheim at 80 Season.

League of Gentlemen member Steve Pemberton plays Vice Principal Douglas Panch. His theatre work includes The Drowsy Chaperone (Novello Theatre), The Rocky Horror Show (The Playhouse, Richmond Theatre), The Exonerated (Riverside Studios) and Art (Wyndham’s Theatre), while on film he’s appeared in The League of Gentleman’s Apocolapyse, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Match Point and The Life and Death of Peter Sellers among others.

The musical comedy - in which tensions and emotions are running high in a contest with a place in the national finals at stake - is conceived by Rebecca Feldmann, has music and lyrics by William Finn and a book by Rachel Sheinkin and additional material by Jay Reiss. After opening Off-Broadway, it transferred in 2005 to Broadway, where it ran for three years and won the Tony for Best Book of a Musical.

Director Jamie Lloyd told the Daily Mail’s Baz Bamigboye that “it will be a different show every time”, due largely to the fact that four members of the audience will join the show each night to have their spelling ability tested.

Bradley, Findlay & Mays in Moonlight

Spelling Bee is followed by Moonlight, which runs from 12 April to 28 May 2011 (previews from 7 April). Directed by Bijan Sheibani (making his Donmar debut), the stellar cast will be headed by David Bradley, Deborah Findlay and Daniel Mays.

In Pinter’s tragicomedy of family dysfunction, premiered at the Almeida in 1993, Bel attempts to reconcile her dying husband Andy with his estranged sons.

David Bradley returns to the Donmar to play Andy, having previously appeared in Twelfth Night/Uncle Vanya. His extensive other theatre work includes the Gate Theatre Dublin productions of Pinter’s Endgame and No Man’s Land (which transferred to the Duke of York’s Theatre), as well as Henry IV Parts I & II, The Night Season, The Mysteries, The Homecoming, Mother Courage (National Theatre), Phèdre/Britannicus (Almeida at the Albery & BAM), and King Lear (Olivier Award for Best Supporting Actor), The Tempest, Julius Caesar and Hamlet (Royal Shakespeare Company).

Deborah Findlay - whose association with the Donmar includes roles in The Vortex, The Cut, John Gabriel Borkman and Madame de Sade - plays Bel. She is currently in the Young Vic’s revival of The Glass Menagerie, while previous stage credits include the NT productions of The House of Bernarda Alba, The Mandate, Mother Clap’s Molly House, The Winter’s Tale and Stanley - for which she won an Olivier Award.

Daniel Mays, who plays Jake, is probably best known for his film and television work, which includes Made in Dagenham, Atonement, Vera Drake and Red Riding, but he also has an impressive theatre CV including Scarborough, Motortown, The Winterling and Ladybird at the Royal Court and M.A.D. at the Bush.

The season is completed by Luise Miller, which runs from 13 June to 30 July 2011 (previews from 8 June). One of Schiller’s early plays, written in 1784, Kabale und Liebe translates from the German as Intrigue and Love, but the Donmar has opted for a version of the title from Verdi’s 1852 opera based on the play. The new version is written by Mike Poulton.

Michael Grandage will direct a cast led by Felicity Jones, who starred in television series The Worst Witch and on film recently in Cemetery Junction. Her stage credits include the premiere production of Polly Stenham’s That Face at the Royal Court in 2007.


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