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Donmar Marks Curious Debut & Sondheim 80th

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Mark Haddon, author of the multi award-winning novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, will make his playwriting debut next spring with a new play about a man who falls in love with a psychologically disturbed woman. Polar Bears will receive its world premiere in April at the Donmar Warehouse as part of the theatre’s newly announced spring 2010 season.

The season will also feature a new production of American Lanford Wilson’s 1970 play Serenading Louie, which will follow its Donmar dates with a regional tour, and will conclude with a revival of Stephen Sondheim’s 1994 musical Passion, as part of the composer’s 80th birthday celebrations. The latter will be directed by Donmar associate director Jamie Lloyd and is expected to star Argentine Elena Roger, who starred in Lloyd’s Donmar revival of Piaf (which will be mounted in her native Buenos Aires in February).

Serenading Louie opens the new schedule, running from 16 February to 27 March 2010 (previews from 11 February). 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.

Pulitzer Prize winner Lanford Wilson’s other plays include Home Free!, Balm in Gilead, The Rimers of Eldritch, Lemon Sky, The Hot L Baltimore, Fifth of July, Angels Fall, Burn This, Redwood Curtain, Sympathetic Magic, Book of Days, Rain Dance and Talley’s Folly. Simon Curtis directs the new production, which is designed by Peter McKintosh. After London, Serenading Louie will tour for three weeks to Salford, Leicester and Truro.

At the Donmar, it’s followed, from 6 April to 22 May 2010 (previews from 1 April), by Mark Haddon’s Polar Bears, which explores one man’s struggle to love, support and live with a woman suffering from a psychological condition. John has never met anyone like Kay. When the moon is in the right phase, she is magnetic and amazingly alive. But when the darkness closes in, she is lost to another world, a world in which John does not belong.

Amongst other awards, Haddon’s 2003 novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time won the Whitbread Prize. His other books include A Spot of Bother and The Real Porky Phillips and he’s also written TV screenplays including Fungus the Bogeyman and Microsoap. His first play is directed by Jamie Lloyd.

Exact dates have not yet been confirmed for Lloyd’s production of Passion. Based on the Italian film Passione d’Amore, which was adapted from a 19th-century novella, Passion is set amongst a battalion of soldiers in a bleak frontier town, where lonely Fosca’s obsessive passion threatens the happiness of Giorgio and his beautiful mistress Clara.

The musical, with music and lyrics by Sondheim and a book by James Lapine, premiered on Broadway in 1994, when it won three Tony Awards, for Best Musical, Best Score and Best Book. A revised version of the show had its West End premiere in 1996, starring Maria Friedman, Michael Ball and Helen Hobson. Stephen Sondheim turns 80 on 22 March 2010. The Donmar has had a long association with the composer’s work since 1992, including acclaimed productions of Assassins, Company, Into the Woods and Pacific Overtures.

Beyond London, the Donmar continues its success on Broadway with Michael Grandage’s Jude Law-headed production of Hamlet. Also in New York, in the new year, Alan Rickman will remount his Donmar production of Strindberg’s Creditors at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and Four Quartets, a reading from the Donmar’s recent TS Eliot Festival, will run at the city’s Baryshnikov Arts Center. Also in the US, the Donmar’s production of Jason Robert Brown’s musical Parade recently opened in Los Angeles. It’s American director and choreographer Rob Ashford has now been appointed as a Donmar associate director, alongside Jamie Lloyd.


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