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Oh, You Kidman!

Nicole Kidman and Sam Mendes may be doing Chekhov and Shakespeare at the Donmar Warehouse in London next fall. logo

Nicole Kidman in The Blue Room
Nicole Kidman is evidently letting no grass grow under her feet following her divorce from Tom Cruise. It seems that, in the wake of her two recent movie hits, Moulin Rouge and The Others, Kidman is going to be spending a lot of time on stage--in London.

I'm told that, about a year from now, Kidman will be doing two shows in repertory at the Donmar Warehouse: Chekhov's Uncle Vanya and Shakespeare's Measure for Measure. (Kidman has spoken of the project but without naming the plays). Both of these will be directed by Sam Mendes, apparently to mark the end of his tenure as artistic director there. In related news, Kidman and Trevor Nunn have said that they will be respectively starring in and directing a production of Ibsen's The Lady from the Sea at the Royal National Theatre next season, but no dates have been set and the theater itself will not confirm the booking.

Mendes and Kidman previously worked together when he directed her and Iain Glen in David Hare's The Blue Room on Broadway in 1998 following an engagement at the Donmar. Though the production received mixed reviews here, it nevertheless created a sensation for its explicit sexual content--and for the fact that Kidman appeared nude on stage, albeit very briefly and discretely. Word was that then-hubby Cruise was present for many or all performances, watching the show from the lighting booth. (Perhaps he had a premonition of marital discord?)

To say that Nicole Kidman's appearance in two shows in rep directed by Sam Mendes will create box-office mania would be the understatement of the new millennium. Already a famous film actress, Kidman proved that she had real stage chops in The Blue Room, aside from the failings of the play itself. And though I personally am not an admirer of Mendes' work, I am apparently in the minority: He received largely rave reviews for his reimagining of Kander & Ebb's Cabaret (still running on Broadway!) and achieved Oscar glory with his film directing debut, American Beauty. So if the idea of his renewed collaboration with Kidman on two stage classics appeals to you, make sure your passport is up to date.

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