Adrien Brody’s UK stage debut and cult musical ‘Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812’ feature in the Donmar’s new season

New Donmar artistic director Tim Sheader has delivered one almighty-looking first season as he announces his first set of plans for the bijou Seven Dials powerhouse.

Sheader is best know for running the Open Air Theatre in Regent’s Park for a massive 18 years, and if there’s one thing we could reasonably expect from him, it’s a big musical.

He has truly delivered with a show many have been waiting over a decade for: Dave Malloy’s ‘Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812’ (Dec 7-Feb 8 2025), a folk opera adaptation of a chunk of Tolstoy’s ‘War & Peace’ that became a huge cult hit on and off-Broadway, with its original Rachel Chavkin-directed US production staged in a tent, with the audience liberally doused in vodka shots. This is not that production, but a fresh one directed by Sheader himself, but however he goes about it, it’s just a tremendous thrill that we’ll be able to see it at last.

Before that, though, and proof that there’s more to Sheader than musicals, he’s scored a seriously heavyweight casting coup with the season opener and UK theatre debut of Oscar-winning US actor Adrien Brody. He’ll play the protagonist of ‘The Fear of 13’ (Oct 4-Nov 30), US playwright Lindsey Ferrentino’s adaptation of David Sington’s 2015 film about Nick Yarris, a man who spent 22 years on death row in Pennsylvania for a murder he didn’t commit.

Next year comes Anna Mackmin’s new play ‘Backstroke’ (Feb 14-Apr 12 2025), which stars Celia Imrie and Tamsin Greig as a mother and daughter whose lives are changed forever when force-of-nature mum Beth is admitted to hospital with a stroke.

Finally, in a neat piece of continuity, Sheader will follow his predecessors Josie Rourke and Michael Longhurst in staging a play by the great Black US playwright Lynn Nottage directed by Bush boss Lynnette Linton. US actress Samira Wiley – best known for Netflix smash ‘Orange is the New Black’ – will star as Esther, a Black lingerie-maker in early twentieth century New York in a revival of Nottage’s classic ‘Intimate Apparel’ (Jun 20-Aug 9 2025).

The new Donmar season will go on general sale Wednesday July 3. If you’re aged 16-35, sign up here for £20 tickets.

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