Sydney Theatre Company has announced that Yael Stone has been cast in its upcoming production of The Beauty Queen of Leenane, the critically acclaimed 1996 black comedy by Martin McDonagh. She replaces Rebel Wilson in the role of Maureen Folan, who dropped out of the play earlier this year due to an “unforeseen scheduling conflict”.
Yael Stone and Noni Hazlehurst for Sydney Theatre Company’s The Beauty Queen of Leenane. Photo © Rene Vaile
The Beauty Queen of Leenane represents Stone’s return to the Australian stage after accusing actor Geoffrey Rush of inappropriate behaviour during Belvoir’s 2010/11 production of The Diary of a Madman. Rush has denied the allegations, which were initially published in The New York Times and detailed in an interview with the ABC in December.
Stone had been scheduled to star in STC’s production of Saint Joan in January last year but withdrew due to pregnancy. The actor is best known for playing Lorna Morello in the hit Netflix series Orange Is the New Black.
STC has also announced that Noni Hazlehurst has been cast as Mag, mother to Stone’s character. Incidentally, the actor was among a number of board members and executives who offered Rush an apology after he stepped down as AACTA president after The Daily Telegraph alleged he had exhibited “inappropriate behaviour” towards fellow actor Eryn Jean Norvill during STC’s 2015/16 production of King Lear. The allegations were later found to be defamatory by the Federal Court, a decision which is being appealed by the newspaper. It was later revealed that Stone was the mystery “Witness X” whose evidence was refused in the defamation trial.
Stone and Hazlehurst join a cast which includes Shiv Palekar and Toby Schmitz.
“Our two central characters, Mag and her daughter Maureen are brilliant roles for women,” said director Paige Rattray. “They are both incredibly flawed beings, playing domestic roles that have been thrust onto them by society and circumstance. Their psychology is complex and you see-saw between feeling anger, sympathy, understanding and outrage at their actions. I can’t wait to see what actors of Yael and Noni’s calibre will bring to these roles. If our photo shoot is anything to go by our audiences are in for a very funny and surprising ride!”
Sydney Theatre Company’s The Beauty Queen of Leenane is at the Roslyn Packer Theatre, November 18 – December 21