The Michael Grandage Season begins at the Noel Coward Theatre from 1st December 2012, with Privates on Parade starring Simon Russell Beale opening this fine run of productions. The season ends with the Henry V running from November 2013 until February 2014 starring Jude Law. In between are Peter and Alice, The Cripple of Inishmaan and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. As previously mentioned the cast for these productions is simply stunning: in addition to the above are Dame Judi Dench, Ben Whishaw, Daniel Radcliffe, Sheridan Smith and David Walliams.
Over the next few weeks we shall be casting a spotlight on the above mentioned esteemed set of actors but first what about Michael Grandage?
Born in Yorkshire in 1962, Grandage was then brought up in Penzance, Cornwall where his parents had a family business. He was educated at the Humphry Davy Grammar School (it gained Music college status in 2005) in Penzance before training as an actor at Central School of Speech and Drama. He worked for twelve years as an actor for companies such as the Royal Exchange and the Royal Shakespeare Company before turning to directing, making his debut in 1998 with The Last Yankee at the Mercury Theatre, Colchester. He then went to Sheffield and directed Twelfth Night, his first Shakespeare production.
From 1999 to 2005 Grandage was Artistic Director of Sheffield Theatres where his productions included Edward II with Joseph Fiennes, Richard III with Kenneth Branagh, Suddenly Last Summer with Diana Rigg and Victoria Hamilton, The Tempest and Don Carlos with Derek Jacobi. He produced more than forty plays with predominantly young directors and designers.
From 2002 to 2012 he was Artistic Director of the Donmar Warehouse, where he expanded the theatre’s repertoire to include European work, touring productions and an extensive education programme as well as taking the new Donmar brand to international audiences in America, Australia, Argentina and Europe.
In September 2008 the company extended its repertory to Wyndham’s Theatre. Grandage directed all four productions: Kenneth Branagh in Ivanov, Derek Jacobi in Twelfth Night, Judi Dench in Madame de Sade and Jude Law in Hamlet.
In 2010 he launched a season at Trafalgar Studios to highlight the work of young directors who have emerged from the Donmar’s training scheme. During his ten years at the Donmar he produced sixty six productions and directed twenty five of them. Many of his productions transferred to the West End and Broadway.
Grandage is the recipient of Tony, Drama Desk, Olivier, Evening Standard, Critics’ Circle and South Bank Awards. He has been awarded Honorary Doctorates by both Sheffield University and Sheffield Hallam University and is also President of Central School of Speech and Drama. He was appointed CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2011. His book A Decade At The Donmar, is published by Constable & Robins.
He also continues to develop his work within the world of Opera. In 2010 he made his debut with Billy Budd at Glyndebourne and he has returned there this summer to direct Le Nozze Di Figaro. In North America, he has directed Don Giovanni at the Met and Madame Butterfly at Houston. During 2011 he made his National Theatre debut with Danton’s Death and in 2012 on Broadway directed a new production of Evita starring Ricky Martin, Elena Roger and Michael Cerveris.
It is obvious that Michael Grandage is immensely talented and at the top of his profession and it is no wonder that the crème de la crème of British actors wish to be a part of his productions. Not surprising therefore that the cast of his forthcoming plays is of such a high calibre.
Our next article in this series will be on the star of Private Lives: Spotlight on Simon Russell Beale
By Neil Cheesman
Credit: Michael Grandage image – photographer Bronwen Sharpe
Michael Grandage has recently launched a new company to produce all his post-Donmar work and to develop theatre and film work in the UK and abroad. His official website is at www.michaelgrandagecompany.com