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NT Confirms Dates for Mirren Phedre, More Cast

Dates and further casting have now been announced for productions opening in the National Theatre’s next booking period, from May to July 2009, including NT artistic director Nicholas Hytner’s highly anticipated staging of Greek tragedy Phedre, starring Helen Mirren, which will launch the NT Live programme of one-off television broadcasts See News, 14 Jan 2009).

In the NT Olivier

In the largest auditorium as part of the £10 Travelex Season (See News, 14 Jan 2009), the National’s first-ever production of Shakespeare’s All's Well That Ends Well, directed by associate Marianne Elliott, will open in rep on 28 May 2009 (previews from 19 May), starring multiple Olivier Award winners Clare Higgins (most recently seen at the National opposite Ralph Fiennes in Oedipus) and Conleth Hill (Stones in His Pockets, The Producers and, at the NT, The Seafarer, Philistines and Democracy), as the Countess of Rossillion and Parolles.

In the battle between the generations, the feisty but lowly Helena falls in love with Bertram, a haughty count. To gain his hand she’s set a string of impossible tasks. Even if accomplished, they can hardly guarantee his love. Michelle Terry and George Rainsford play the lovers, in a cast that also includes Janet Henfrey, Sioned Jones, Elliot Levey, Brendan O’Hea and Michael Thomas.

Ahead of the Shakespeare, Rufus Norris’ revival of Wole Soyinka’s 1976 play Death and the King's Horseman, which runs from 8 April to 13 June 2009 (previews from 1 April), stars Nonso Anozie as Elesin, the horseman of the title. He’s joined by: David Ajala, Medina Ajikawo, Sarah Amankwah, Claire Benedict, Robert Eugene, Derek Ezenagu, Karlina Grace, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, Hazel Holder, Gbemisola Ikumelo, Tony James-Andersson, Jenny Jules, Gemma McFarlane-Edmond, Coral Messam, Lucian Msamati, Rex Obano, Anthony Ofoegbu, Demi Oyediran, Daniel Poyser, Jason Rowe, Seun Shote, Giles Terera and David Webber.

In the NT Lyttelton

In the NT Lyttelton, Phedre will open on 11 June 2009 (previews from 4 June), with as previously announced, Dominic Cooper and Margaret Tyzack co-starring with Mirren as Hippolytus and Oenone. The NT Live broadcast performance - which will be shown on the same day to more than 100 venues around the world, including 50 cinema screens across the UK – will take place on 25 June and, beyond London, Hytner’s production will visit Epidaurus, Greece on 10 and 11 July. Bob Crowley designs.

Ahead of Phedre, there’s further casting for Burnt by the Sun, Peter Flannery’s new stage adaptation of the 1994 Oscar-winning Russian film, and the revival of JB Priestley’s 1937 drama Time and the Conways, which marks director Rupert Goold’s NT debut (See News, 10 Nov 2008).

In the former, which opens next week on 3 March 2009 (previews from 24 February), Rory Kinnear, Ciaran Hinds and Michelle Dockery are joined by: Duncan Bell, Skye Bennett, Anna Burnett, Anna Carteret, Rowena Cooper, Marcus Cunningham, Holly Gibbs, Michael Grady-Hall, Colin Haigh, Harry Hepple, Floss Hoffmann, Stephanie Jacob, Anne Kavanagh, Victoria Lennox, Tim McMullan, Stuart Martin, Pamela Merrick, Charlotte Pyke, Roger Ringrose, Tony Turner and Hattie Webb. Howard Davies directs.

In addition to Francesca Annis (as Mrs Conway), the cast for the latter includes: Mark Dexter, Lisa Jackson, Lydia Leonard, Hattie Morahan, Alistair Petrie, Paul Ready, Adrian Scarborough and Fenella Woolgar.

In the NT Cottesloe

The world premiere of The Observer, the latest play by former Whatsonstage.com staffer Matt Charman, opens on 20 May 2009 (previews from 13 May), directed by former NT artistic director Richard Eyre. The cast is: Leo Bill, Daon Broni, Anna Chancellor, James Fleet, Peter Forbes, Lloyd Hutchinson, Chuk Iwuji, Aïcha Kossoko, Louis Mahoney, Cyril Nri, Isabel Pollen and Joy Richardson. Rob Howell designs.

An international group of observers arrives in a West African country to oversee and rubber stamp its first democratic election. New voters queue in their thousands, but a senior member of the observation team find herself both horrified by the president’s suppressive tactics and, for once, in a position to do something about it. Yet as violence on the streets escalates and the country enters free fall, an increasingly angry young translator forces this well-meaning outsider to confront the impact of her intervention.

Next month in the Cottesloe, the full cast of James Macdonald’s production of Marlowe’s 16th-century classic Dido, Queen of Carthage, which runs from 4 March 2009 (previews from 17 March), is: Obi Abili, Jake Arditti, Mark Bonnar (as Aeneas), Sian Brooke, Gary Carr, Alan David, Susan Engel, Freddie Hill, Stephen Kennedy, Kyle McPhail, Thomas Patten, Siobhan Redmond (as Venus), Ryan Sampson, Ceallach Spellman and Theo Stevenson, in addition to Anastasia Hille in the title role.

NT Connections & Pitmen tour

This year’s New Connections showcase festival will run from 1 to 7 July 2009 in both the NT Olivier and Cottesloe auditoria, and will feature plays by writers including David Mamet, Anthony Horowitz, Anthony Neilson, William Boyd, Ben Power and Georgia Fitch. New Connections, supported for a second year by Bank of America, commissions new plays for and about teenagers for performance by schools and youth theatres from all over the UK and Ireland, both in their home venues and at 15 regional partnership theatres. The week at the NT showcases an example of each play.

Meanwhile, Lee Hall’s award-winning play The Pitmen Painters, currently returned for a second season on the South Bank, running in rep in the NT Lyttelton until 14 April 2009, has confirmed its UK tour dates. It will launch a nine-week tour from Newcastle on 29 September, then visiting Cardiff, Milton Keynes, Salford, Sheffield, Norwich and Plymouth, where the tour concludes on 28 November.

- by Terri Paddock


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