Rehearsals are well underway for Sydney Theatre Company’s final production of 2019 – The Beauty Queen of Leenane. The play opens at the Roslyn Packer Theatre on Friday 22 November. 

The ink-black Martin McDonagh comedy is directed by STC Associate Director Paige Rattray and boasts the stellar cast of Yael Stone, Noni Hazlehurst, Shiv Palekar and Hamish Michael. 

In a small town in the Irish hills of Connemara, Maureen Folan (Yael Stone) lives a lonely existence with Mag (Noni Hazlehurst), her aged mother. Their relationship is more arm wrestle than warm embrace. Right now, when Maureen stands the chance of having her first romantic relationship, Mag’s cantankerous presence is simply unbearable. 

Paige Rattray said: “Working with Noni and Yael is a dream, and a masterclass. They inhabit their characters in a way I haven’t seen before. Their exquisite detail comes from a place of truth that is so very real the actors disappear completely and I am swept into the world of Maureen and Mag. It’s thrilling.” 

The Beauty Queen of Leenane was the first big hit for McDonagh who went on to pen the Broadway and West End hits The Pillowman and The Lieutenant of Inishmore, as well as acclaimed films such as In Bruges and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. On both stage and screen he combines a devilishly satisfying sense of humour with a cruel underbelly. 

Yael Stone has worked extensively in the Australian film, television and theatre industry; the NIDA graduate began acting professionally at thirteen years old. Theatre credits include Stephen Sewell’s The Blind Giant Dancing, directed by Eamon Flack for Belvoir Street Theatre. Other Belvoir credits include: As You Like It, Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, The Diary of a Madman, The Book of Everything and Scorched. For Sydney Theatre Company she has appeared in Honour directed by Lee Lewis, Elling directed by Pamela Rabe and Frankenstein directed by Ralph Myers.

Yael is best known for her portrayal of Lorna Morello in Orange is the New Black (Netflix), a global phenomenon which has been honoured with the SAG Award for Outstanding Comedy Ensemble in 2015, 2016 & 2017, and nominated for the 2014 and 2015 Emmy Awards for Outstanding Comedy and Outstanding Drama. Yael’s performance as Lorna throughout the show’s seven seasons earned her critical acclaim worldwide. Other US television credits include High Maintenance (HBO) and Childhood’s End (SyFy). Most recently in Australia, Yael played Tori Lustigman in Deep Water (Blackfella Films and SBS) and Dora Lumley in Picnic At Hanging Rock (Foxtel and Fremantle Media). 

Noni Hazlehurst is one of Australia’s most loved and respected entertainment figures, as a celebrated film, theatre and television actor, beloved Playschool presenter and Better Homes and Gardens host. In 2019 Noni stars in the soon-to-be-released feature film, June Again. Other recent film credits include Ladies in Black, Truth, The Mule and The Broken Shore. Her recent TV credits include A Place to Call Home (Foxtel), The End (Foxtel and Sky UK), The Letdown (Giant Dwarf and the ABC) and Redfern Now.

In 2016 Noni completed sell-out tours of the one-woman stage production, Mother, which was nominated for a Helpmann Award, and in 2018 reprised the show at Belvoir Theatre followed later that year by a sell-out season at QPAC for which she received the Matilda Award for Best Performance by an Actress. The play returns to QPAC in 2020. 

Noni is the 2016 inductee into the Logies Hall of Fame. She is the winner of two Best Actress Awards for the film Bitter and Twisted, four AFIs for Little Fish, Waiting at the Royal, Fran and Monkey Grip, and two Logies for the mini-series’ Waterfront and Ride on Stranger. She has also received an Order of Australia and an Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy from Flinders University. 

During her time on Playschool Noni recorded albums and appeared in many children’s concerts together with state orchestras MSO, SSO and QSO. She has been an advocate for children’s welfare and literacy programs, and is currently a patron of the Australian Children’s Laureate. Noni has served on numerous boards, including Film Australia and Belvoir Street Theatre and currently sits on the board of ACCTA. 

Photo credit: Brett Boardman

THE BEAUTY QUEEN OF LEENANE – SEASON DETAILS

Venue: Roslyn Packer Theatre, Walsh Bay
Dates: 18 November – 21 December 2019
Tickets: Phone or the box office on (02) 9250 1777 or visit sydneytheatre.com.au

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