UK Roundup - Ewan McGregor, the National + Michael Grandage

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In the role that Marlon Brando epitomised on screen, Ewan McGregor will star as Sky Masterson in next year's red hot production of Guys and Dolls, according to reports in the Daily Mail. Directed by acclaimed director Michael Grandage – who succeeded Sam Mendes as artistic director of the Donmar Warehouse – the revival is a co-production between the Donmar and the Ambassador's Theatre Group. With other names yet to sign up – including Will and Grace's Megan Mullally – the musical, written by Frank Loesser and Abe Burrows, is about the love affairs of two New York gamblers. Its co-producer, Ambassador Theatre Group own 11 West End theatres, the largest of which is the Piccadilly Theatre, and are expected to announce a venue in the near future.

In addition to Guys and Dolls, Michael Grandage will also be represented in the West End with a transfer of his Sheffield production of Don Carlos. Starring Richard Coyle in the title role and with Derek Jacobi as King Philip II of Spain, the play received great critical acclaim at the Sheffield Crucible with many five star reviews. It will transfer to the Gielgud Theatre in January following the departure of current smash hit One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. The production marks Grandage's last directorial effort during his five-year reign, although he doesn't officially finish until summer '05. The last time Jacobi and Grandage worked together was in 2002 when their production of The Tempest transferred to the Old Vic.

The National Theatre have unveiled details of their new season leading up to April 2005. The offerings include A Dream Play by Strindberg, in a new version by CarylChurchill, The House of Bernada Alba by Lorca, in a new version by David Hare, and A Minute Too Late devised by experimental company Complicite. Fix Up, by actor-playwright Kwame Kwei-Armah, was announced previously but begins performances December 7th. Whilst there is plenty on offer here, it seems like a bit of a disappointment on the last season's efforts. Not only is David Hare returning with his third play in two years, but Complicite and Kwame Kwei-Armah are also returning two years on the trot at the three-theatre venue on the South Bank. Seems like a bit of a safe move to me..

This week in Rob's Blog he brought the news of a British reality TV show in which the prize is to appear in Chicago. The programme's called Musicality and shows weekly on Channel 4, a channel devoted to American imports such as Nip/Tuck, The Simpsons, Six Feet Under and Friends. To reassure those of you who think that musical theatre has finally fallen foul to the standards of American Idol – don't worry. The show is professionally handled and there's certainly no bitching from the trio on the panel. Although it's on a commercial channel, so far there's no signs of them cashing in on it either – no premium rate voting lines. In fact, actually, the show is a bit dull. So rest assured, this is not the end of trained musical theatre actors.. and I'm sure Equity are keeping a very close eye on things.

Kevin Spacey revealed on British talk show Parkinson this weekend that in his student days he dabbled in musical theatre, but has never had 'the opportunity' to do it professionally. With an apparent passion for starring in shows at his own venue, The Old Vic Theatre, could Spacey have something up his sleeve? If not, Beyond the Sea, his musical film on Bobby Darin is all we have to show for his hidden talent. He also admitted in the interview that he's not expecting to turn around the Old Vic's reputation in a season, and that the theatre is for the people, not the critics. Also taking questions was Mel Brooks? though he revealed nothing of interest about the London production. "I think I'm the only Jew who's ever profited from him!" Mel said about Hitler.

 

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Jake is currently studying at Bristol University and hopes to eventually pursue a career in the theatre industry as a writer/director. His favourite writers include American playwright Rebecca Gilman and he's a big supporter of new writing in Britain. In addition to BroadwayWorld, Jake also writes for BBC.co.uk, Whatsonstage.com and Theatremonkey.com.


 

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