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The Old Vic production of Alan Ayckbourn’s comedy trilogy THE NORMAN CONQUESTS, directed by Matthew Warchus, opened on April 23, 2009 at Circle in the Square Theatre (235 West 50th Street). 


The production, which received rave reviews from critics, is nominated for seven Tony Awards, including Revival of a Play, Featured Actor in a Play (Stephen Mangan, Jessica Hynes), Featured Actress in a Play (Jessica Hynes, Amanda Root), Director of a Play (Matthew Warchus) and Set Design of a Play (Rob Howell).


The production, the best reviewed play of the year, has won three Outer Critics Circle Awards, including Outstanding Revival of a Play, Outstanding Director of a Play (Matthew Warchus) and Outstanding Ensemble Performance; three Drama Desk Awards for Outstanding Revival of a Play, Outstanding Director of a Play (Matthew Warchus) and Outstanding Ensemble Performance; a New York Drama Critics Circle special citation to director Matthew Warchus and the cast and a Theater World Award for the cast, all of whom are making their Broadway debuts.


THE NORMAN CONQUESTS features Amelia Bullmore (Ruth), Jessica Hynes (Annie), Stephen Mangan (Norman), Ben Miles (Tom), Paul Ritter (Reg) and Amanda Root (Sarah).  The production plays a limited run through July 25. 


Here are some recent stories featuring the production:



A Day of Conquests

By Erik Piepenburg

Photos by Sara Krulwich


The Norman Conquests, a trilogy of plays by Alan Ayckbourn, is running on Broadway at Circle in the Square. The plays – Table Manners, Living Together and Round and Round the Garden – can be seen in an all-day marathon on select weekends.

The first play starts at 11:30 a.m., and the last one ends just after 10:30 p.m. It’s a long day for everyone involved, from the actors to the audience and the crew. What’s it like to spend a day immersed in this play? Take a behind-the-scenes look with audio and photos.


To view the multimedia slide show, click on the following link:




Wall Street Journal

Double Threat

By Ellen Gamerman


Among the formidable opponents Matthew Warchus is facing for a best-directing Tony: Matthew Warchus. The British director has been nominated twice in the same category, for the explosive 90-minute sprint God of Carnage and the 6½-hour madcap British trilogy The Norman Conquests.


“My immediate thought was, ‘Well, I can’t possibly win because I’m splitting the vote,’” says Mr. Warchus, who has had three previous Tony nominations but hasn’t yet won.


The two plays opened on Broadway a month apart. Mr. Warchus spent April trekking up and down Eighth Avenue between the two theaters, where an American cast had just opened Carnage and British actors were in previews for Norman.  Sometimes Carnage was still on his mind when he reached the Norman rehearsals: “I kept saying, ‘Why is everyone talking in these funny accents?’”


The director says he approached both comedies the same way. “It’s a very simple directing trick. Go for the pain, and the audience will laugh,” says Mr. Warchus, who directed both plays in London last year. Amanda Root, a star of “Norman,” says he urged actors to “only do things that are absolutely true to the character.”


To read the complete article, click on the following link:





Interview with Matthew Warchus

By Matt Wolf

Matthew Warchus is the first director since A.J. Antoon 36 years ago to be nominated against himself for a Tony. The 42-year-old Englishman, cited three times previously (for Art, True West and last year’s Boeing-Boeing), will go up against Bartlett Sher (Joe Turner’s Come and Gone) and Phyllida Lloyd (Mary Stuart) as well as himself. Warchus was nominated for both God of Carnage, with its starry American quartet of actors (Jeff Daniels, Hope Davis, Marcia Gay Harden, James Gandolfini), and The Norman Conquests, whose ensemble cast of six Brits are all but unknown in the States. But far from lingering in New York to soak up compliments, the director was busy back home in London the very week of the nominations with a workshop of the forthcoming stage musical version of the Bruce Joel Rubin film, Ghost, due to open on the West End next year. The amiable director has been married for eight years to the American actress/singer Lauren Ward, with whom he has three children. Broadway.com caught up with the busy helmer at the end of a day’s work to talk about delivering Alan Ayckbourn across the Atlantic, bringing God of Carnage to the boil, and what it means to move from directing Ayckbourn, Mamet and Chekhov to something like Ghost.

You’ve achieved a double Tony nomination in a single category for directing, not seen on Broadway since 1973.
That’s ironic, since that’s the year The Norman Conquests was written.

The success in New York of this Old Vic production of Alan Ayckbourn’s trilogy must be especially pleasing.
It is, not least because I was the person pushing to get it to New York. I was the person who got Sonia [producer Sonia Friedman] in and said to her, ‘Surely there might be a way of doing this on Broadway; give me two weeks to make some phone calls and see if anyone bites.’ I am often told when I bring things to New York that they probably won’t work—that they’re very French or very British or very dated. I’m always being warned. I was warned on Boeing-Boeing, Art and God of Carnage, as well.

So what made you hopeful about the Ayckbourn plays?
I was convinced that if a production can tap into the almost Chekhovian depth of his writing, that it then becomes universal. When humor is based on human truth, that becomes universal humor, with none of the shrillness of the British stereotypes [of Ayckbourn] as performed by Americans. I really believe you can do all his plays in the way that we did The Norman Conquests.

To read the complete article, click on the following link:





Fresh Face: Stephen Mangan

By Beth Stevens

Age: 37

Hometown: London, England

Currently: Playing the appalling yet appealing womanizer Norman in Alan Ayckbourn’s trilogy The Norman Conquests. Each of the three plays is set in a different location of a country house (the dining room in Table Manners, the living room in Living Together and the garden in Round and Round the Garden) over the course of a single weekend.

What I Did for Love: Mangan didn’t set out to be an actor. Though he performed in school plays, he says acting didn’t feel like a career option. “My dad was a builder, my mom worked at a pub—I might as well have said I wanted to be an astronaut or the Pope or a high-jumper or something,” he exclaims. Mangan studied law at Cambridge, but soon after he graduated, his mother was diagnosed with colon cancer. “She died some six months later, and there I was at a crossroads in my life. I didn’t really want to be a lawyer, and I started thinking that my grandmother died at 47, my mother at 45, so I haven’t got the best genes in the world. I thought, ‘God, if I’ve only got 20 years, why don’t I do something I really love?’” He auditioned for the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and got in. “That was it: I was suddenly an actor; I’m an actor now. It’s possible.”

Electricity: Mangan is widely recognized in the U.K. for his television work, most notably the series Green Wing, but he started out as an animal of the theater. “For the first five or six years of my career, I refused to do any television or any film. My agent kept e-mailing me saying, ‘Why don’t you want to make some money?’ I just wanted to do the great classical parts.” He trooped around the country doing Shakespeare, Shaw and Moliere. Eventually, he made his agent happy and landed his first film: Billy Elliot. “I had a very small part,” the actor says of his blink-and-you-miss-it appearance in the 2000 hit as the doctor who examines Billy at the Royal School of Ballet. “I had very big sideburns on.” Now he and Billy Elliot director Stephen Daldry are part of the same Broadway season. “In fact, I bumped into Stephen Daldry at something last week,” Mangan laughs. “I asked him if there was a Dr. Crane in the musical, and he said they wouldn’t be able to find anyone to give the part the weight and the dignity that I had in the film, so they cut it. And I understood. It was hard for him.”

Being Norman: The title character of The Norman Conquests is a 1970s-era assistant librarian with a lusty heart, a wild mop of curls and a tiny pair of tennis shorts. (“The shorts are my Liz Hurley Versace dress,” the actor deadpans. “They could catch on, I’m telling you.”) Norman is incredibly pleased with himself and yet remains lovable even when he’s behaving horribly. “What is it about Norman that appeals to these women?” Mangan marvels. “He’s a liar, and he’s not particularly attractive.” And yet he’s seductive. (“Put it this way,” Mangan says of kissing many of his co-stars, “if there are any colds going around the cast, I get them.”) “He’s the kind of guy that’s all fun—boundless energy, effervescent, nonstop—like a randy tiger, running around totally without ego. He’s a complex character, and it took me a long time to get my head around him. I suppose Norman today would be in a clinic for sex addiction or on medication. He’s just desperate to connect with people.”

To read the complete article, click on the following link:





“Norman” Tony Nominee Mangan Says Conquests Is a Sign of the Times —

Then and Now

By Kenneth Jones


Norman, the untamed, unkempt, sexually voracious Brit who seeks the pleasure of three women in the three rueful comedies that make up Broadway’s Tony Award-nominated Best Revival of a Play, The Norman Conquests, just wants to be loved. Or maybe he just wants “free love,” the kind they sing about in Hair.


Stephen Mangan, a 2009 Tony nominee in the category of Featured Actor in a Play for the triptych by Alan Ayckbourn, agrees that Norman is a man batting his wings up against the cage of society’s norms in the time of the play, circa 1974, when the sexual revolution threatened to engulf people — or pass them by.


“He would really love to be a hippie,” Mangan says of Norman, whose shaggy beard and crazy mane suggest as much. “England was not a sexually adventurous — not openly, anyway — place in the early ’70s, it was very repressed. We’re known for our repression.


So Norman is there openly telling women that he loves them. In many ways that’s the secret to being a womanizer, just letting people know! Norman is so desperate for contact. I don’t think he’s a bad man. I think he believes when he’s with each woman that he really does love them.”


To read the complete article, click on the following link:





Brief Encounter with Matthew Warchus

By Robert Simonson

Just at present, Matthew Warchus is that rare thing, a director who pleases both his producers and the critics.

Over the past 12 months, the British Warchus has brought over from London three plays: a revival of the 1960s sex farce Boeing Boeing, Yasmina Reza’s latest comedy of bad manners God of Carnage, and a new production of Alan Ayckbourn’s comic trilogy of a weekend in the country and the three upended relationships that result. All three plays have been praised by reviewers, both here and in England. But we all know that the laurel “critical hit” doesn’t necessarily mean anything at the box office. (Witness Desire Under the Elms.) Not so with Warchus. Boeing-Boeing became the first Broadway farce in long, looooong memory to make a profit. And if the hugely popular God of Carnage (with its four marquee stars) and Norman Conquests (with its “collect-them-all” novelty) aren’t on the way to recoupment, I’ll eat my Fedora. Warchus was recently nominated twice for the Best Director of a Play Tony Award, for the Reza and the Ayckbourn. He’s enjoyed the honor of being nominated three times before (for Art, True West and Boeing), but has yet to win. This, however, may be his year. Warchus talked to Playbill.com from England.

Playbill.com: Being nominated twice in the same Tony category presents a kind of special problem for you. Do you find yourself wanting to win for one play rather than the other? Or, does it not really matter, as long as you win for one of them?
Matthew Warchus: Yes. Well, I said to someone the other day, I’m intrigued to find out what it’s like to lose twice in one sentence.

Playbill.com: I don’t actually think that’s going to happen this time.

MW: Of course, there is the possibility that, as I bound up onto the stage, I’m slightly pissed off!

Playbill.com: It’s nice to have such problems.
MW: Yes, exactly.

To read the complete article, click on the following link:





Cue & A with Jessica Hynes

By Ernio Hernandez


Jessica Hynes — a 2009 Tony Award nominee for her work in The Norman Conquests — fills out Playbill.com’s questionnaire with random facts, backstage trivia and pop culture tidbits.

Full given name:
Tallulah Jessica Elina Stevenson (That’s my given maiden name) Jessica Hynes is my married name and the one I use now.


Hometown: Brighton


Audition monologue: Hermione from A Winter’s Tale “Sir, spare your threats….”


Special skills: Roller blading


How you got the nomination news: I called back a missed call and someone said, “Congratulations…”


Nominee you’re most excited for: My fellow actors in the Normans; we’re all rooting for each other.


Who you are taking Tony night: Amelia Bullmore, who plays Ruth my sister in the show.


To read the complete article, click on the following link:




Playbill Radio

The Norman Conquests – podcast


The three-part Broadway comedy “The Norman Conquests” tied for the most Tony Award nominations of any non-musical show of the 2008-09 season, seven, with nods for director Matthew Warchus and stars Stephen Mangan, Paul Ritter and Amanda Root. Along with Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey, who serves as co-producer of “The Norman Conquests,” all of them join host Robert Viagas to describe the inner workings of their play, which is performed in three parts on three different nights. Written by prolific British author Alan Ayckbourn, the play originated at the Old Vic in London, and came over with its English cast intact.


To listen to the interview, click on the following link:



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