Nunn to take over at National Theatre

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The Independent Online
JOHN McKIE

and REBECCA FOWLER

Trevor Nunn, the millionaire director of Cats and Les Miserables, will be announced as the new director of the National Theatre today, giving him the most prestigious position in British theatre.

Nunn, 56, who has only been put forward as a contender to take on the National in recent weeks, will take over the pounds 80,000 directorship from Richard Eyre after months of speculation.

Yesterday, Nunn was unavailable for comment. He was editing his film version of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night; the latest venture in an illustrious career which thrust him into the spotlight in 1968 when, at the age of only 28, he became the Royal Shakespeare Company's youngest artistic director.

Although he is best known for his Shakespearian productions, including Macbeth with Judi Dench and Sir Ian McKellen, Nunn also won popular success when he directed Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats, the world's longest-running musical. Nunn was chosen, from more than 50 British directors, by a specially appointed committee from the National Theatre board which included Tom Stoppard, the playwright, Michael Codron, the producer, and Sir Michael Palliser.

Among the other front runners for the directorship was Sam Mendes, the bright young star of the Donmar warehouse who directed Judi Dench in the Cherry Orchard and more recently took on Cameron Mackintosh's revival of Oliver!

Steven Daldry, currently at the Royal Court, who shot to fame with his revival of An Inspector Calls, and Jude Kelly, director of the West Yorkshire Playhouse, and the most popular woman contender, were also favourites.

Until a few weeks ago the National Theatre board had been expected to hire a younger leader. Three weeks ago, however, the National decided it wanted Nunn. Since then there have been protracted discussions about future artistic policy and negotiations over the terms of Nunn's contract.

Nunn will take the post for five years. He is the second of four directors in the National's 34-year history to come from the RSC. Previous holders are its founder Lord Olivier, Sir Peter Hall, and most recently Mr Eyre.

Nunn's reported decision to throw his hat into the ring to follow Eyre appeared to have paid off last night.

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