William Shakespeare
Directed by Mark Rylance
Starring James Earl Jones and Vanessa Redgrave
Previews from 7 September 2013
Press night: 19 September 2013

Mark Rylance directs James Earl Jones and Vanessa Redgrave in Shakespeare’s timeless comedy Much Ado About Nothing opening on 19 September 2013 with previews from 7 September. Further cast includes Tim Barlow, Penelope Beaumont, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Katherine Carlton, Beth Cooke, Alan David, Michael Elwyn, Lloyd Everitt, James Garnon, Melody Grove, Trevor Laird, Leroy Osei-Bonsu, Mark Ross, Peter Wight and Danny Lee Wynter.

While young lovers Claudio and Hero threaten to have their imminent nuptials thwarted by the resentful scheming of a Prince, marriage seems inconceivable for reluctant lovers Beatrice (Vanessa Redgrave) and Benedick (James Earl Jones). Redgrave and Earl Jones take on these roles for the first time.

James Earl Jones and Vanessa Redgrave recently starred in Alfred Uhry’s Driving Miss Daisy both in the West End and on Broadway.

James Earl Jones plays Benedick. His voice is known by people of all ages and walks of life from the Star Wars fans who know him as the voice of ‘Darth Vader’ to children who know him as ‘Mufasa’ from Disney’s The Lion King. Jones made his Broadway debut in 1957 and had his first breakthrough role in 1960 when Joseph Papp cast him in Shakespeare’s Henry V, marking the beginning of Jones’s long affiliation with the New York Shakespeare Festival, eventually counting the title roles of Othello, Macbeth, and King Lear among his many distinguished performances for the company. Jones has won Tony Awards for the Broadway productions of The Great White Hope and Fences; a Tony nomination for On Golden Pond; Drama Desk Awards for Othello, Les Blancs, Hamlet, The Cherry Orchard and Fences; Obie Awards for Clandestine on the Morning Line, The Apple, Moon on a Rainbow Shawl and Baal; a Theatre World Award for Moon on a Rainbow Shawl; and the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for

Fences. Additional theatre credits include Paul Robeson, The Iceman Cometh, Of Mice and Men and the Broadway and London productions of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Olivier Award nomination for Best Actor), the Broadway and London productions of Driving Miss Daisy, the Broadway production of The Best Man and has just finished a six month tour of Australia, again with Driving Miss Daisy. Films include: The Great White Hope (Academy Award nomination), Dr. Strangelove, Claudine, The Comedians, The River Niger, The Greatest, A Piece of the Action, Gardens of Stone, Coming to America, The Sandlot, The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger, Matewan, Cry the Beloved Country and Field of Dreams. His wide ranging TV career includes two primetime Emmy Awards (for Gabriel’s Fire and Heat Wave) and six other nominations. Other highlights include: Roots: The Next Generation and a great number of guest roles in series ranging from The Defenders and Dr. Kildare to more recently, Two and a Half Men and House. Jones was awarded the National Medal of Arts, is a Kennedy Center honoree and an Honorary Oscar recipient. His memoir, last published by Limelight Editions in 2002, is called Voices and Silences.

Vanessa Redgrave plays Beatrice. Vanessa was most recently seen in the comedic-drama Song for Marion, written and directed by Paul Andrew Williams for which she has been nominated for a 2012 BIFA award for Best Supporting Actress. In 2011 she starred in Ralph Fiennes’ directorial debut Coriolanus, for which she received the BIFA Best Supporting Actress Award. She recently completed filming Foxcatcher directed by Bennett Miller; The Butler directed by Lee Daniels and The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh. Her many film credits include Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment; A Man For All Seasons; Blow-Up; Camelot; Isadora; Mary, Queen of Scots; Julia; The Bostonians; Wetherby; Prick Up Your Ears; Howard’s End; A Month By The Lake; Mrs. Dalloway; Cradle Will Rock; Atonement; Evening; Cars 2; Miral; Letters to Juliet; The Whistleblower and Anonymous. Her television credits include If These Walls Could Talk 2; The Fever; The Day of the Triffids; Playing for Time, Nip/Tuck, Call The Midwife, Political Animals and The Call Out.

Vanessa recently starred in The Revisionist alongside the author Jesse Eisenberg at the Cherry Lane Theatre, New York. In 2012 she was Guest Artistic Director at the Brighton Festival. Previously, Vanessa starred opposite James Earl Jones and Boyd Gaines in Driving Miss Daisy at the Wyndham’s Theatre. For her performance she won Best Actress at the 2012 Whats On Stage Awards. The play previously enjoyed a record breaking sell-out run on Broadway and Vanessa received a Tony Award nomination.

Vanessa’s Broadway credits include the landmark 2003 production of Long Day’s Journey Into Night and acclaimed revivals of Tennessee Williams’ Orpheus Descending and Ibsen’s The Lady From the Sea. In her native England, her scores of major roles on the stage most recently include recreating The Year of Magical Thinking at the National Theatre; Lady Windermere’s Fan at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket; The Tempest for the RSC at Shakespeare’s Globe and The Cherry Orchard at the National Theatre.

Redgrave has worked with UNICEF-UK as a Special Representative from 1993-1995, and has been a UNICEF Goodwill ambassador since 1995. Her continued work with UNICEF led to her involvement with UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees) in many countries, and with UNRWA (United Nations Relief Works Agency). She is a member and supporter of Memorial and Za Prava Cheloveka, the two principal Russian human rights foundations, and is also a supporter of Amnesty International and Liberty, which together comprise the leading human rights organisations in Britain.
Mark Rylance most recently appeared on stage in Nice Fish at the Guthrie Theatre, Minneapolis, which he co-authored with Louis Jenkins and which he also co-directed with Claire van Kampen, and in Richard III and Twelfth Night (Shakespeare’s Globe and West End). Prior to that he appeared as Johnny ‘Rooster’ Byron in the critically-acclaimed production of Jerusalem, a role he played at the Royal Court, in the West End and on Broadway. In 2007, he wrote his first play, I Am Shakespeare, which premiered at the Chichester Festival Theatre, directed by Matthew Warchus, published in 2012 by Nick Hern Books.

His other theatre credits include Valere in La Bête, Hamm in Samuel Beckett’s Endgame, Robert in Boeing-Boeing and many productions for the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre and the Glasgow Citizens. During his time as Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s Globe his work as an actor included the title roles in Henry V and Hamlet as well as Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra and Olivia in Twelfth Night. His film and television work includes Anonymous, Intimacy, The Other Boleyn Girl, Prospero’s Books, Angels and Insects, Leonardo and David Kelly in C4’s The Government Inspector for which he won the BAFTA Best Actor Award.

Full casting includes: Tim Barlow as Verges (King Lear at the Sheffield Crucible, Death of a Salesman at Leeds Playhouse, Hot Fuzz); Penelope Beaumont as Ursula (The Only True History Of Lizzie Finn at the Southwark Playhouse, Alphabetical Order at the Hampstead Theatre); Kingsley Ben-Adir as Borachio (God’s Property at the Soho Theatre, A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, Vera for ITV); Katherine Carlton as Beryl (Much Ado About Nothing and numerous other productions at LAMDA); Beth Cooke as Hero (King Lear at The Abbey Theatre, Scorched Earth at the Southwark Playhouse/Soho Theatre); Alan David as Antonio (The Captain of Kopenick at the National, Jerusalem at the Royal Court and on Broadway); Michael Elwyn as Leonato (The Audience at The Gielgud, Rope at the Almeida Theatre, The Iron Lady); Lloyd Everitt as Claudio (Chariots of Fire at the Hampstead Theatre and in the West End; King Lear at the West Yorkshire Playhouse); James Garnon as Don Pedro (The Tempest, Gabriel and Richard III at the Globe and for film, The Real American: Joe McCarthy); Melody Grove as Margaret (The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart at the Royal Court and National Theatre of Scotland World Tour, The Importance of Being Earnest at the Lyric, Belfast); Trevor Laird as Conrade (Waking the Dead for the BBC, One Man, Two Guvnors and England People Very Nice both at the National); Leroy Osei-Bonsu as Messenger (Moby Dick at the Arcola, World War Z); Mark Ross as Sexton (Michael’s Story for the Circles Theatre Company, Henry V at the Inner Room Theatre); Peter Wight as Dogberry and Friar Francis (Trelawny of The Wells at the Donmar Warehouse, In Basildon at the Royal Court and in the West End and The Paradise for the BBC) and Danny Lee Wynter as Don John (Henry IV Parts 1 and 2 at the Globe, Luther for the BBC, Hot Fuzz).

Much Ado About Nothing is produced in association with Shakespeare Road & Nicolas Kent.
Director Mark Rylance
Designer Ultz
Lighting Mimi Jordan Sherin
Music Claire van Kampen
Sound Emma Laxton
Movement Siân Williams
Casting Siobhan Bracke


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📷 Main photo: Mark Rylance directs James Earl Jones and Vanessa Redgrave in Shakespeare’s timeless comedy Much Ado About Nothing opening on 19 September 2013 with previews from 7 September. Further cast includes Tim Barlow, Penelope Beaumont, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Katherine Carlton, Beth Cooke, Alan David, Michael Elwyn, Lloyd Everitt, James Garnon, Melody Grove, Trevor Laird, Leroy Osei-Bonsu, Mark Ross, Peter Wight and Danny Lee Wynter.

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