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The Amen Corner - National Theatre (Olivier)

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

RUFUS Norris will direct James Baldwin’s The Amen Corner with a cast led by Marianne Jean-Baptiste and Sharon D Clarke. Part of the Travelex £12 Tickets season, it opens in the National’s Olivier Theatre on June 11 (previews from June 4) before continuing in repertoire until August 14, 2013.

As the gospel singing soars, Sister Margaret, uncompromising pastor of her Harlem church, has a congregation already in revolt against her hardline leadership. Their resentment escalates with the return of her absentee husband, a trombone-playing sinner, and the wayward conduct of her formerly paragon, musical son.

Charges of hypocrisy hang in the air and Margaret’s devout world looks perilously close to falling apart.

Beautifully expressed through the rousing beat of the gospel choir, the community’s sense of love, grief and spiritual survival will be given full voice in this production of James Baldwin’s 1965 play.

Marianne Jean-Baptiste returns to work in the UK for the first time since Mike Leigh’s 1996 film Secrets and Lies, for which she received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. She appeared in the long-running American television series Without a Trace and most recently in Takers, Secrets in the Walls and Harry’s Law.

Sharon D Clarke was last seen at the National Theatre in Guys and Dolls. Her many lead roles in West End musicals include We Will Rock You, Hairspray, Chicago and Ghost the Musical. She has also appeared on television in several series of Holby City (as Lola Griffin).

Joining them in the cast of The Amen Corner are Eric Kofi Abrefa and Lucian Msamati.

Rufus Norris is an Associate Director at the National Theatre, where his recent productions include London Road and Death and the King’s Horseman. His credits elsewhere include Cabaret (West End), Feast (Young Vic), Dr Dee (Manchester Festival and ENO), and Les Liaisons Dangereuses (Broadway). His production of Table by Tanya Ronder will open in The Shed in April. His debut feature film, Broken, won Best Film at the British Independent Film Awards.

The Amen Corner has set designs by Ian MacNeil, costumes by Joan Wadge, lighting by Paul Anderson, music arranged and supervised by The Rev Bazil Meade, movement by Javier De Frutos and sound by Simon Baker.

NB: Almost half the seats in the Olivier will be Travelex £12 Tickets, with the rest at £24 and £34.