January 14, 1940
Suffolk, England, GB
Artistic director, Director, Play adapter, Producer, Screenwriter, Lyricist
Judy Kuhn, Imogen Stubbs, Janet Suzman, Sharon Lee-Hill
A heralded stage director of such London and Broadway hits as "The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby", "Cats" and "Les Miserables", Trevor Nunn is the former artistic director of the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) and current head of The National Theatre. After attending Cambridge, he began his career producing and directing plays at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry. Within two years, he joined the RSC as associate director, a position he held until 1968 when he was named chief executive and artistic director. Administrative duties aside, Nunn first directed an actual production for the RSC in 1965, handing the children's play, "The Thwarting of Baron Bolligrew" but it was his 1969 staging of "The Revenger's Tragedy" that established his reputation. During his tenure, he oversaw a number of acclaimed productions including "The Taming of the Shrew" (1967), "King Lear" (1968), "Coriolanus", "Antony and Cleopatra" and "Titus Andronicus" (all 1972). His first American foray was overseeing the RSC's 1974 production of "Richard II". In 1976, Nunn branched out into musicals with an adaptation of "The Comedy of Errors". But it was David Edgar's two-part version of "The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby" that solidified his reputation. Co-directed with John Caird, the production opened to raves in London and on Broadway, where it won four Tony Awards including Best Play and Best Director. Nunn teamed with Andrew Lloyd Webber on "Cats", drawn from the poetry of T S Eliot, staging the musical and contributing additional lyrics (most notably to the show's signature tune "Memory"). The Broadway production earned seven Tony Awards (including one for Nunn's direction) and went on to become the longest-running musical in Broadway history in 1997.
Once established as a musical director, Nunn went on to work on several of Lloyd Webber's spectacles. He staged the roller-skating musical "Starlight Express" (1984), the more intimate but less successful "Aspects of Love" (1989) and more recently "Sunset Boulevard" (1994). In between, Nunn reteamed with John Caird to stage an English-language adaptation of the French musical "Les Miserables" (1985). The 1987 New York production was the success of the season and earned eight Tony Awards including Best Musical and Best Director.
Nunn has ventured into films and television, generally recreating stage productions. In 1974, he produced a British TV adaptation of "Antony and Cleopatra" that starred his then-wife Janet Suzman which aired on ABC in the USA in 1975. His musicalized "The Comedy of Errors" aired on A&E in 1990 and he adapted and directed "Porgy & Bess" for PBS three years later. More recently, Nunn oversaw the 10th anniversary concert version of "Les Miserables" (1995). On the big screen, he debuted as writer and director of "Hedda" (1975), a version of Ibsen's "Hedda Gabler" that offered a tour de force lead performance by Glenda Jackson. Nunn stumbled somewhat with his second film, "Lady Jane" (1985), a period film about the Tudor monarch who ruled England for only nine days. Written by David Edgar and introducing Helena Bonham Carter, "Lady Jane" was more pageant than drama. After more than a decade, Nunn returned to films with "Twelfth Night" (1996), a middling adaptation of the Shakespeare comedy that starred Bonham Carter and Nunn's third wife, Imogen Stubbs.