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Spacey Pulls Forward Bridge Richard to 2011

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Dates were today (1 December 2010) confirmed for the final season of the Old Vic's Bridge Project with the theatre's artistic director Kevin Spacey taking the title role in Sam Mendes' new production of Richard III which will open on 29 June (previews from 18 June) and run until 11 September 2011.

The announcement sees the three-year transatlantic project between Mendes' Neal Street Productions, New York's Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) and the Old Vic completed on its original timeframe, having originally been pushed back to 2012 so that it coincided with the London Olympics.

Unlike the first two years of Bridge, in which two classics were performed in rep by the same cast, in 2012, Richard III will be the sole offering. This also marks the first time a Bridge Project production has debuted in London, the previous two seasons having kicked off at BAM. The company will still be a mix of leading British and American actors, with further casting to be announced closer to the time.

Dates were also announced today for the production's New York run at Brooklyn Academy of Music which will take place slightly earlier than previously announced with performances from 10 January 2012 to 4 March 2012, before a brief tour and then a season at the Old Vic from May to August 2012. Following London, the production will embark on more extensive worldwide tour which will draw to a close at the end of 2011, just before the show's New York run. Exact dates and international engagements are still to be announced.

Tickets for the London production will go on sale 31 January 2011, with tickets for the run at BAM in New York being released in autumn 2011.

Richard III reunites Kevin Spacey and Sam Mendes as actor and director for the first time since Mendes famously directed Spacey in his (Mendes') 1999 film debut American Beauty, for which they both won Oscars. Since launching his tenure as artistic director of the Old Vic in 2004, Spacey's acting credits on this stage have included National Anthems, The Philadelphia Story, Speed-the-Plow, A Moon for the Misbegotten, Inherit the Wind and another Shakespeare Dick in 2005, Richard II, directed by Trevor Nunn, for which he received the Whatsonstage.com Award for Best Actor.

Commenting on the Bridge Project's final season, Sam Mendes said in a statement: "I am absolutely delighted to be working with Kevin again for the first time since American Beauty, and I am doubly thrilled that he will be leading year three of The Bridge Project. Richard III is a play I love, and a role I think Kevin is born to play. I’m also thrilled that the partnership between our three entities has strengthened and blossomed over the course of this venture, along with a host of invaluable international partnerships that have enabled us to extend the reach of global touring year after year."

Kevin Spacey added: "Sam is one of the finest directors I have had the pleasure to work with and to gain this opportunity is beyond my wildest hopes. I love Sam’s perspective on a role, carving and shaping the actor. With such a remarkable character before me I have a feeling this one is going to be a memorable experience."

In the first year of the Bridge Project in 2009, Simon Russell Beale, Sinead Cusack, Rebecca Hall and Hollywood's Ethan Hawke featured in the company performing The Winter's Tale and Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard. This year's two Shakespeares, As You Like It and The Tempest, were led by Stephen Dillane, Juliet Rylance, Ron Cephas Jones and Christian Camargo.


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