Vanessa Redgrave (pictured) and James Earl Jones are two of the leading lights of the 2013 season at the Old Vic, it's been announced. The acting legends will play Beatrice and Benedick in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. Other season high spots include Sex & The City's Kim Cattrall in Tennessee Williams' Sweet Bird Of Youth, and a new production of Terrence Rattigan's The Winslow Boy.
Lindsay Posner, fresh from the resounding success of the West End transfer of his Old Vic production of Noises Off, will direct The Winslow Boy. Marianne Elliott is assuming directorial duties for Sweet Bird Of Youth, and Mark Rylance is taking the reins for Much Ado.
The Old Vic's Artistic Director Kevin Spacey said in a statement: "The Old Vic has always been first and foremost an actors' theatre, a home for great talent and memorable performances. What an exciting prospect to see the wonderful Mark Rylance direct supreme actors Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones in Much Ado about Nothing. We are honored that Mark is bringing his unique talent to The Old Vic."
"I am delighted to welcome Lindsay Posner back to our theatre with The Winslow Boy," Spacey continued, "and I know that audiences will be thrilled at the prospect of Kim Cattrall taking on Sweet Bird of Youth directed by Marianne Elliott, whom we are so excited to welcome for the first time."
The Winslow Boy begins performances on 8 March, opens officially on 19 March and runs through 25 May. Rattigan's 1946 play recounts the true story of a father's fight to clear his son's name when he is convicted of theft and expelled from Naval College. Casting is yet to be announced.
Sweet Bird of Youth begins performances on 1 June and commences its official run from 12 June through 31 August. Cattrall plays embittered Hollywood has-been Alexandra Del Lago - aka Princess Kosmonopolis - who seeks refuge in alcohol, drugs and the arms of ambitious young gigolo Chance Wayne after her planned movie comeback turns out to be an embarrassing failure.
Best known for her role as Samantha Jones in Sex & The City, Cattrall has won wide acclaim for her work on the stage. Her most recent UK theatre appearances include Antony and Cleopatra at Liverpool Playhouse and Chichester Festival Theatre, and a West End production of Private Lives that subsequently transferred to Broadway.
Director Marianne Elliott's most recent credits include The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and War Horse at the National Theatre, of which she is an associate. The Curious Incident... transfers to the West End's Apollo Theatre on 12 March.
Much Ado About Nothing begins performances on 7 September and commences its official run from 19 September through 16 November. Redgrave and Jones recently went head-to-head in a successful Broadway and West End run of Driving Miss Daisy. Here they reunite to play reluctant lovers Beatrice and Benedick - a noteworthy casting choice on the part of director Rylance, in that the roles were written for much younger people, by whom they are usually played.
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