Channing back in London

Published April 17, 2008

Stockard Channing returns to the London stage in Awake And Sing! at the Almeida from 31 August (press night 6 September), directed by Almeida Artistic Director Michael Attenborough.

American playwright Clifford Odets’s 1935 play Awake And Sing! tells the story of the Bergers, a lower-middle-class, three-generation Jewish family living in a Bronx apartment during the 1930s. The family, ruled over by strong-willed matriarch Bessie, long for a better world for themselves. A depiction of the extreme economic hardships confronted by working-class immigrant families during the 1930s, Odets’s play documents their travails, their hopes and their frenetic, pressured existence in this crowded home.

The playwright’s other credits include Paradise Lost, Golden Boy and Rocket Man To The Moon. Awake And Sing! was recently revived on Broadway and was nominated for eight Tony Awards in the 2006 ceremony, including a nomination for British actress Zoë Wannamaker; it won the award for Best Revival of a Play.

Channing returns to the London stage after her appearance in The Exonerated at the Riverside Studios last year. Further back, she starred in Six Degrees Of Separation at the Royal Court and the Comedy, a role she had also played on Broadway and in a 1993 film version, which won her an Oscar nomination. Her other Broadway credits include The Little Foxes, The Lion In Winter, Hapgood, The House Of Blue Leaves, Love Letters, Woman In Mind and Joe Egg, for which she won a Tony Award in 1985. However, it is for her screen roles that she is most widely recognised; she played First Lady Abigail Bartlet in US political drama The West Wing from 1999-2006 and has many film credits including Up Close And Personal, Moll Flanders, Bright Young Things and 1978 film Grease, in which she famously played Rizzo.

Attenborough has directed many productions at the Almeida in his time as Artistic Director, including The Mercy Seat, Five Gold Rings, Brighton Rock, The Late Henry Moss, There Came A Gypsy Riding and Big White Fog, which is currently running at the theatre.

No further casting has yet been announced for Awake And Sing!, which runs at the Almeida until 20 October.

CB