Sydney Theatre Company suffered a pretty significant blow in late 2017 when Yael Stone was forced to pull out of her starring role in the company's production of Saint Joan due to pregnancy. Thankfully, Sarah Snook was available and the production was an enormous success. Then earlier this year, STC suffered another blow when comedy queen Rebel Wilson pulled out of her starring role in the company's production of Martin McDonagh's The Beauty Queen of Leenane. But the stars seem to have a way of aligning for our city's biggest theatre company, with Stone now available to take on a leading role in an STC production.
Stone is best known for playing Lorna Morello in Netflix's Orange is the New Black, but it's really on stage where she shines. While this will be her first stage role in Sydney since 2016, she's previously acted for Sydney Theatre Company and Belvoir and is the winner of two Sydney Theatre Awards.
She's taking on Maureen, a 40-year-old woman who gets her first chance at love, but whose cruel and manipulative mother sets about destroying it. Playing that cruel and manipulative mother? The brilliant Noni Hazlehurst, who played the role in an intimate Melbourne production to great acclaim in 2014. The STC production is being directed by Paige Rattray and also stars Toby Schmitz and Shiv Palekar.
The play is set in the Irish village of Leenane, where McDonagh set a trilogy of pitch black comedies. While McDonagh might now be best known for his work in films – his 2017 film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri was nominated for seven Oscars, including Best Picture – it's his plays that really kickstarted his career.
The Beauty Queen of Leenane is at the Roslyn Packer Theatre November 18 to December 21.