Helen Mirren to star in ‘Phaedra’

National Theater adds to 2008-09 slate

Helen Mirren will return to the National Theater in June to play the title role in Racine’s tragedy “Phaedra,” one of several new additions to the National’s 2008-09 slate announced alongside the publication of the org’s annual report.

The production, also starring Margaret Tyzack, will be helmed by National a.d. Nicholas Hytner, who also announced further classic revivals, none with casting or dates yet fixed.

Making their National Theater debuts, Michael Grandage will direct Georg Buchner’s 1834 historical epic “Danton’s Death,” and Rupert Goold will direct J.B. Priestley’s time-slip drama “Time and the Conways.”

In addition, Marianne Elliot will direct a new production of Shakespeare’s “All’s Well That Ends Well,” Rufus Norris will helm Wole Soyinka’s “Death and the King’s Horseman,” James Macdonald will direct Marlowe’s “Dido, Queen of Carthage” and Deborah Warner will helm Fiona Shaw in “Mother Courage.”

A new Matt Charman play, “The Observer,” is also skedded, and Hytner will direct Richard Bean’s new comic drama “English People Very Nice,” about immigration to Britain.

Hytner announced an operating surplus of £93,000 (about $167,000 ) in the 2007-08 financial year from revenue of $88 million. The surplus figure is especially healthy considering that two shows were added to the original budget.

Twenty-six shows were produced, 19 of them new. Box office was 87% capacity with 730,000 tickets sold. The biggest single earner, “War Horse,” achieved 99% occupancy and took in $4.1 million.

Hytner argued that the National was primed to survive the credit crunch.

“We’re well placed to ride out a recession,” he said. “Travelex continues to sponsor our £10 ($18) ticket season, and overall, our ticket prices are held below the Government’s Retail Price Index.”

Top ticket price is $74, one-third lower than in the West End.

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