Entertainment & Arts

Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones to reunite at Old Vic

Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones
Image caption Stage and screen veterans Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones will play Beatrice and Benedick for the first time

Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones will reunite on stage next year in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing at London's Old Vic.

The actors will star as reluctant lovers Beatrice and Benedick for the first time in their long careers.

The play is being directed by Mark Rylance, actor and former artistic director of Shakespeare's Globe.

Redgrave and Jones were last seen in the West End together in Driving Miss Daisy at Wyndham's Theatre in 2011.

Driving Miss Daisy had previously run on Broadway, with Redgrave earning a Tony Award nomination.

Jones, whose film credits include Patriot Games and The Hunt for Red October, remains best known as the voice of Darth Vader in the Star Wars films.

Much Ado has been much seen in London in recent years, with Meera Syal and Paul Bhattacharjee playing Beatrice and Benedick in this year's Indian-themed RSC production.

In 2011, former Doctor Who stars Catherine Tate and David Tennant took on the roles at Wyndham's Theatre at the same time as an acclaimed production at Shakespeare's Globe, starring Eve Best and Charles Edwards.

Rylance will direct the new Old Vic production after appearing in the West End transfer of the Globe's all-male productions of Richard III and Twelfth Night.

His most acclaimed role in recent years was as Johnny "Rooster" Byron in Jerusalem, which he played at the Royal Court in the West End and on Broadway.

"The Old Vic has always been first and foremost an actors' theatre, a home for great talent and memorable performances," said Kevin Spacey, artistic director of the Old Vic.

"We're so proud of where we have gotten to in nine seasons, and for me this new season of work shows just how far The Old Vic has come."

He added: "What an exciting prospect to see the wonderful Mark Rylance direct supreme actors Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones in Much Ado about Nothing. We are honoured that Mark is bringing his unique talent to The Old Vic."

Also announced for the Old Vic's 2013 season is Lindsay Posner directing Terence Rattigan's play The Winslow Boy and Kim Cattrall starring in Tennessee Williams's Sweet Bird of Youth, directed by Marianne Elliott.

The Winslow Boy, which Rattigan based on the true story of a father's fight to clear his son's name when he is expelled from a naval college for theft, will begin previews on 8 March.

Sweet Bird of Youth, in which Cattrall will play fading Hollywood legend Alexandra Del Lago, previews from 1 June.

In addition, Michael Frayn's farce Noises Off - which opened at the Old Vic in December 2011, before transferring to the West End - will tour the UK from March 2013.

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