Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones will reunite on the Old Vic stage this September as the sparring lovers in Much Ado About Nothing, giving a well-seasoned caste to Shakespeare’s comedy.
Redgrave, 75, and Jones, 81, were last seen on a West End stage together in Driving Miss Daisy at Wyndham's Theatre in 2011.
As Beatrice and Benedick, the quarreling couple who spurn love, they provide comic relief to another set of lovers, Claudio and Hero, but are usually portrayed as much younger.
Much Ado About Nothing is part of a 2013 season at the Old Vic Theatre that also includes Tennessee Williams' Sweet Bird of Youth starring Canadian actress Kim Cattrall.
The Sex in the City star, who graced the Toronto stage in Private Lives, is to play a fading Hollywood legend ravaged by bitterness in the production to open on the Old Vic stage in June.
Artistic director Kevin Spacey also plans to produce:
- The Winslow Boy by Terence Rattigan, directed by Lindsay Posner.
- A British tour of Noises Off, a Michael Frayne farce.
Spacey said it was "extraordinary" to have brought Redgrave to the Old Vic, adding that putting her on stage with Earl Jones, "is like two titans coming together but they are company people at heart."
Redgrave’s birth was actually announced from the Old Vic stage in 1937 by Laurence Olivier, who was playing Hamlet to her father Michael’s Laertes.
Spacey said he didn’t hesitate to put Earl Jones, best known as the voice of Darth Vader, and Redgrave in the comedy, to be directed by Mark Rylance.
"I think Shakespeare is extraordinarily elastic. For me it’s about interpretation, seeing how a certain actor performs a certain kind of role," he said.
Spacey has led the Old Vic since 2003 and his term lasts until 2015. He has said he wants to secure the financial future of the London theatre and renovate the building.