Donmar Warehouse announces Private Lives & new Jack Thorne play; Michael Longhurst to step down

Stephen Mangan, Rachael Stirling, Laura Carmichael and Sargon Yelda to star in Noel Coward’s Private Lives

A new play by Jack Thorne – When Winston Went to War with the Wireless

Next To Normal casting announced: Caissie Levy and Trevor Dion Nicholas

The Donmar Warehouse in London has announced that its Artistic Director Michael Longhurst is to step down.

After five years at the Donmar, Longhurst is leaving the venue when his contract ends in February 2024. There is no news on who will replace him.

The Donmar has also announced more shows in its 30th anniversary season – kicking off with a revival of Noel Coward’s Private Lives from 7 April to 27 May 2023.

Directed by Michael Longhurst, Private Lives will star Stephen Mangan as Elyot, Rachael Stirling as Amanda, Laura Carmichael as Sibyl and Sargon Yelda as Victor (main photo).

Design will be by Hildegard Bechtler, with lighting design by Jack Knowles and casting by Anna Cooper CDG.

This will then be followed by the world première of a new play by Jack Thorne (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child), titled When Winston Went to War with the Wireless.

Directed by Katy Rudd, the play promises to be a gripping and timely examination of the BBC’s independence during the 1926 General Strike, and will play at the Donmar from 2 June to 29 July 2023.

Today, casting has also been announced for the Donmar’s Summer musical – Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey’s Next To Normal.

Caissie Levy is set to play Diana in the show, alongside Trevor Dion Nicholas as Dr. Madden/Dr. Fine, with further casting to be announced. 

Next To Normal at the Donmar – Caissie Levy and Trevor Dion Nicholas

Michael Longhurst will direct Next To Normal, with a creative team that also includes: Musical Supervisor Nigel Lilley; Designer Chloe Lamford; Lighting Designer Lee Curran; Sound Designer Tony Gayle; Movement Director Ann Yee; Musical Director Nick Barstow; and Casting Director Anna Cooper CDG.

Currently playing at the Donmar is Lillian Hellman’s Watch on the Rhine starring Patricia Hodge – which has received some great reviews.

Up next at the Donmar is the world premiere of Diana Nneka Atuona’s new play Trouble in Butetown, starring Sarah Parish.

Donmar artistic director Michael Longhurst said in a press statement:

​​“I could not be prouder of the Donmar team and all that we’ve achieved across my tenure – the impact of the pandemic on our industry was devastating, but in the face of this, I am so grateful that the team rose to the challenge, not only to fundraise for and deliver an essential capital project, but to simultaneously help reopen theatres with our globally-transferring sound installation Blindness and our multi-cast Olivier Award-winning revival of Constellations in the West End. Thank you to all the artists and theatre makers who have been part of the journey so far. I am proud that in a time so challenging for freelancers to have enabled so many Donmar debuts, and to have continued to improve the diversity of those making work here. I am enormously grateful to my Co-Chief Executive Henny Finch for her unwavering support and great skill throughout my tenure.  

“As I approach the end of my contract, it feels like the right moment to hand over this incredible theatre – now celebrating its 30th anniversary. When I leave next year, I will do so with the company in robust financial health, in part due to the Donmar’s many loyal supporters, with whose help we feel confident we can fill the gap left by the recent withdrawal of our Arts Council funding. I know that the Donmar will not simply survive, but thrive and continue to forge forward as an industry leader and innovator – this next chapter is a new moment and an incredible opportunity for the company’s next Artistic Director.

“Before then, I am beyond thrilled to be honouring the 50th anniversary of Coward’s death by reviving his most famous work Private Lives in the fierce intimacy of the Donmar; producing Jack Thorne’s astonishingly timely play about BBC independence, and directing the long-awaited UK premiere of Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical Next to Normal, with Broadway star Caissie Levy, whose vocals are currently Grammy-nominated on the cast album of my last Broadway productionCaroline, or Change.  I look forward to announcing my final season later in the year, before pursuing new artistic challenges for myself in 2024”.

Donmar Warehouse Artistic Director Michael Longhurst. Photo by Helen Maybanks

Adam Kenwright, Chair of the Donmar Warehouse, said:

“On behalf of the Donmar’s Board, I would like to thank Michael for his inspired artistic leadership since the start of 2019. Not only has he directed and produced some of the standout work of the past few years, he also ably steered the theatre through a very challenging time, putting the Donmar at the forefront of innovation. Working closely with Executive Director Henny Finch and the brilliant Donmar team, Michael spearheaded the essential renovations of our theatre during our enforced Covid closure, ensuring when we reopened it was improved and welcoming for future audiences and artists. His are big shoes to fill, but I have no doubt there are fantastic candidates out there, who can continue the Donmar’s commitment to staging work that thrills, engages and excites our audiences. Together with my board colleagues we will begin the recruitment process for Michael’s successor in mid-February”

Book tickets to Trouble in Butetown at the Donmar Warehouse

More about Private Lives tickets at the Donmar Warehouse

More about When Winston Went to War with the Wireless tickets at the Donmar Warehouse

More about Next To Normal tickets at the Donmar Warehouse

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📷 Main photo: Private Lives at the Donmar - Casting

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